Beyond the Book: Background information when reading My Enemy's Cradle

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My Enemy's Cradle

by Sara Young (Pennypacker)

My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young (Pennypacker)
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2008, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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Beyond the Book

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Sara Young previously has published seven children's book under the pen name Sara Pennypacker, including the Stuart series and the Clementine series. Before becoming an author, she was a painter. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. For more about her, please see the interview at BookBrowse.


Lebensborn (Fount of Life), founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1935, was originally set up to provide maternity homes and financial assistance to wives of the SS and unmarried mothers of biologically fit and racially pure German stock. As German occupation of Europe expanded, the Lebensborn program expanded with it providing support and housing to biologically fit and racially pure Aryans, including many thousands of women who, pregnant by German soldiers and ostracized by their communities, had little choice but to seek help from Lebensborn.

There are numerous newspaper and magazine articles covering the Lebensborn program and its aftermath.

  • A Newsweek International article offers an in-depth exploration.
  • A BBC story discusses the pain of Norwegian Lebensborn children, who, like many Lebensborn children, have suffered discrimination and ill treatment throughout their lives.
  • The German publication Spiegel has an especially helpful article.
  • The website, Shoah Education Project, features a page dedicated to the Lebensborn program.
  • The A&E network produced a documentary in 2001 via the History Channel on the Lebensborn program.

For further non-fiction reading about the Lebensborn program, check an academic library or bookstore for Master Race : The Lebensborn Experiment in Nazi Germany by Catrine Clay (Hodder & Stoughton; ISBN: 0340589787)


Aryans
In one of histories greater ironies, the word Aryan (which many in Northern Europe by the middle of the 20th century thought of as referring to the blond-haired, blue-eyed physical ideal of humanity) originally referred to a people who would have been anything but blond-haired and blue-eyed. The word arya was the term used by the ancient people of the area that is now Iran, Afghanistan and India to describe themselves (from which comes Iranian). The shift in meaning began around 1830 when a German scholar theorized that arya was linked to the German word ehre, meaning honor - from this, and a few other rather dubious leaps of logic, he concluded that rather than being a designation of the Indo-Iranian people, the word arya meant something like honorable people. Shortly after, someone else came up with the idea that the original homeland of the Indo-Iranians/Europeans was not Asia but northern Europe - thus was born the idea that Aryans were blond and blue eyed.


More Interesting Links
For a fascinating look at Dutch comics and propaganda in Holland during World War II, visit the site of the Lambiek comic shop in Amsterdam for a collection of images of the comics and accompanying narrative.

German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is quoted in the novel. Twelve of his poems, presented in German along with their English translations, are posted online here. More about him at BookBrowse.

Article by Stacey Brownlie

This article was originally published in January 2008, and has been updated for the October 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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