By Susan Beckham Zurenda
On Oct. 11, Jennifer Coburn will speak at a “Books and Bites” luncheon hosted by Friends of the Mountain Branch Library at the Lake Lure Inn beginning at 11 am. Reservations can be made by calling the library at 828-287-6392 or in person at the library (150 Bills Creek Rd., Lake Lure). Also on Oct. 11 beginning at 5 p.m., Jennifer will speak at the Henderson County Public Library (301 N. Washington St., Hendersonville).
CRADLES OF THE REICH
By Jennifer Coburn
Available October 11th, 2022
For fans of The Nightingale and The Handmaid’s Tale, CRADLES OF THE
REICH by Jennifer Coburn (Sourcebooks Landmark; Hardcover; October 11th) uncovers a topic rarely explored in fiction: the Lebensborn project, a Nazi breeding initiative to raise the birth rate of “racially pure” Aryan children.
Lebensborn, which translates to Spring of Life, operated from 1935 to 1945 as a three-pronged program to produce more children of an elite race. The program targeted racially elite women with Aryan features offering a solution to inconvenient pregnancies by placing them in Nazi-run breeding homes while also arranging sexual liaisons with Nazi officers. All of its participants believed it was their patriotic honor to bear appropriate Nazi children. At its end the program had produced 20,000 children. Lebensborn was also responsible for 200,000 kidnappings of Aryan children from invaded territories throughout the war.
In Cradles of the Reich, Jennifer Coburn takes the reader inside the bucolic Heim Hochland, one of the real breeding homes, where three women’s fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she’s secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official’s child. And Irma, a 44- year-old nurse, who is desperate to build a new life for herself. All three have everything to lose as they begin to realize they are trapped within Hitler’s terrifying scheme to build a Nazi-Aryan nation.
Compelled by her Polish-Jewish family’s experience from World War II forward and the warning they carried with them: ‘We are Jewish and we must always have an escape plan’, author Jennifer Coburn has taken the utmost care in shedding light on this little-known part of WWII history. Immersing herself in historical documents and films, taking courses at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Tel Aviv University, she has done extensive research to reconstruct these shocking events with careful historical accuracy.
Throughout her writing experience she was deeply inspired by the acts of heroism that these women were capable of even as their bodies and children were being commoditized.
JENNIFER COBURN is the author of We’ll Always Have Paris (Sourcebooks, 2014) and six contemporary women’s fiction novels.