World Evolutionary Humanism, Eugenics and UNESCO

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UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy Part 1

Brent JessopKnowledge Driven
May 19, 2008

“That [fundamental] task [of UNESCO] is to help the emergence of a single world culture, with its own philosophy and background of ideas, and with its own broad purpose. This is opportune, since this is the first time in history that the scaffolding and the mechanisms for world unification have become available, and also the first time that man has had the means (in the shape of scientific discovery and its applications) of laying a world-wide foundation for the minimum physical welfare of the entire human species. And it is necessary, for at the moment two opposing philosophies of life confront each other from the West and from the East, and not only impede the achievement of unity but threaten to become the foci of actual conflict.

You may categorise the two philosophies as two super-nationalisms; or as individualism versus collectivism; or as the American versus the Russian way of life; or as capitalism versus communism; or as Christianity versus Marxism; or in half a dozen other ways. The fact of their opposition remains and the further fact that round each of them are crystallising the lives and thoughts and political aspirations of hundreds of millions of human beings. Can this conflict be avoided, these opposites be reconciled, this antitheses be resolved in a higher syntheses? I believe not only that this can happen, but that, through the inexorable dialectic of evolution, it must happen – only I do not know whether it will happen before or after another war.” – 61

As the first Director of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (1887-1975) wrote a paper entitled UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy (1946) [1] in which he outlined his vision for the newly created international organisation (which grew out of the League of Nations’ Institute of Intellectual Co-operation). According to Huxley, the guiding philosophy of UNESCO should be what he termed, World Evolutionary Humanism. The following article describes this philosophy and its relation to eugenics.

Julian Huxley, an evolutionary biologist, humanist, and ardent internationalist held many titles including: Secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935-42), first president of the British Humanist Association (1963), Vice-President (1937-44) and President (1959-62) of the British Eugenics Society. He was also a founding member of the World Wild Life Fund, coined the term “transhumanism” (as a means of disguising eugenics) and gave two Galton memorial lectures (1936, 1962). Huxley also received many awards including the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society (1956), UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize (1953) and the Special Award of the Lasker Foundation in the category Planned Parenthood – World Population (1959) to name but a few. He is also the Grandson of Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) and brother of author Aldous Huxley.

UNESCO Philosophy of World Evolutionary Humanism

From UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy:

[Italicised text is original emphasis and bolded text is added by author.]

“But in order to carry out its work, an organisation such as Unesco needs not only a set of general aims and objects for itself, but also a working philosophy, a working hypothesis concerning human existence and its aims and objects, which will dictate, or at least indicate, a definite line of approach to its problems.” – 6

“Its [UNESCO’s] main concern is with peace and security and with human welfare, in so far as they can be subserved by the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world. Accordingly its outlook must, it seems, be based on some form of humanism. Further, that humanism must clearly be a world humanism, both in the sense of seeking to bring in all the peoples of the world, and of treating all peoples and all individuals within each people as equals in terms of human dignity, mutual respect, and educational opportunity. It must also be a scientific humanism, in the sense that the application of science provides most of the material basis for human culture, and also that the practice and the understanding of science need to be integrated with that of other human activities. It cannot, however, be materialistic, but must embrace the spiritual and mental as well as the material aspects of existence, and must attempt to do so on a truly monistic, unitary philosophic basis.

Finally it must be an evolutionary as opposed to a static or ideal humanism. It is essential for Unesco to adopt an evolutionary approach. If it does not do so, its philosophy will be a false one, its humanism at best partial, at worst misleading. We will justify this assertion in detail later. Here it is only necessary to recall that in the last few decades it has been possible to develop an extended or general theory of evolution which can provide the necessary intellectual scaffolding for modern humanism. It not only shows us man’s place in nature and his relations to the rest of the phenomenal universe, not only gives us a description of the various types of evolution and the various trends and directions within them, but allows us to distinguish desirable and undesirable trends, and to demonstrate the existence of progress in the cosmos. And finally it shows us man as now the sole trustee of further evolutionary progress, and gives us important guidance as to the courses he should avoid and those he should pursue if he is to achieve that progress.

An evolutionary approach provides the link between natural science and human history; it teaches us the need to think in the dynamic terms of speed and direction rather than in the static ones of momentary position or quantitative achievement; it not only shows us the origin and biological roots of our human values, but gives us some basis and external standards for them among the apparently neutral mass of natural phenomena; and it is indispensable in enabling us to pick out, among the chaotic welter of conflicting tendencies to-day, those trends and activities and methods which Unesco should emphasise and facilitate.

Thus the general philosophy of Unesco should, it seems, be a scientific world humanism, global in extent and evolutionary in background. What are the further implications, practical as well as theoretical, of such an outlook? We must examine these in some detail before coming down to a consideration of Unesco’s activity section by section.” – 7

“Our first task must be to clarify the notion of desirable and undesirable directions of evolution, for on this will depend our attitude to human progress – to the possibility of progress in the first place, and then to its definition.” – 8

“But once more a new and more efficient method of [evolutionary] change is available. It becomes available to man through his distinctively human properties of speech and conceptual thought, just as Natural Selection became available to life as a result of its distinctive properties of reproduction and variation. Objectively speaking, the new method consists of cumulative tradition, which forms the basis of that social heredity by means of which human societies change and develop. But the new method also has a subjective aspect of great importance. Cumulative tradition, like all other distinctively human activities, is largely based on conscious processes – on knowledge, on purpose, on conscious feeling, and on conscious choice. Thus the struggle for existence that underlies natural selection is increasingly replaced by conscious selection, a struggle between ideas and values in consciousness. […]

Evolution in the human sector consists mainly of changes in the form of society; in tools and machines, in new ways of utilising the old innate potentialities, instead of in the nature of these potentialities, as in the biological sector. […] Nor does it mean that man’s innate mental powers could not be improved. They certainly were improved (presumably be [sic] natural selection) in the earliest stages of his career, […] and they could certainly be improved further by deliberate eugenic measures, if we consciously set ourselves to improve them. Meanwhile, however, it is in social organisation, in machines, and in ideas that human evolution is mostly made manifest.” – 9


In the philosophy outlined above, there is a lot of high sounding idealistic language about equality. For example the quote below.

“Further, that humanism must clearly be a world humanism, both in the sense of seeking to bring in all the peoples of the world, and of treating all peoples and all individuals within each people as equals in terms of human dignity, mutual respect, and educational opportunity.” – 7

Of course, for eugenicists like Huxley, some are more equal than others.

“There are instances of biological inequality which are so gross that they cannot be reconciled at all with the principle of equal opportunity. Thus low-grade mental defectives cannot be offered equality of educational opportunity, nor are the insane equal with the sane before the law or in respect of most freedoms. However, the full implications of the fact of human inequality have not often been drawn and certainly need to be brought out here, as they are very relevant to Unesco’s task. […]

Still more important, any such generalisations will give us a deeper understanding of the variations of human nature, and in doing so will enable us correctly to discount the ideas of men of this or that type. […]

There remains the second type of inequality. This has quite other implications; for, whereas variety is in itself desirable, the existence of weaklings, fools, and moral deficients cannot but be bad. It is also much harder to reconcile politically with the current democratic doctrine of equality. In face of it, indeed, the principle of equality of opportunity must be amended to read “equality of opportunity within the limits of aptitude.” ” – 18

“Biological inequality is, of course, the bedrock fact on which all of eugenics is predicated. But it is not usually realised that the two types of inequality have quite different and indeed contrary eugenic implications. The inequality of mere difference is desirable, and the preservation of human variety should be one of the two primary aims of eugenics. But the inequality of level or standard is undesirable, and the other primary aim of eugenics should be the raising of the mean level of all desirable qualities. While there may be dispute over certain qualities, there can be none over a number of the most important, such as a healthy constitution, a high innate general intelligence, or a special aptitude such as that for mathematics or music.

At the moment, it is probable that the indirect effect of civilisation is dysgenic instead of eugenic; and in any case it seems likely that the dead weight of genetic stupidity, physical weakness, mental instability, and disease-proneness, which already exist in the human species, will prove too great a burden for real progress to be achieved. Thus even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for Unesco to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” – 21

“To adjust the principle of democratic equality to the fact of biological inequality is a major task for the world, and one which will grow increasingly more urgent as we make progress towards realising equality of opportunity. To promote this adjustment, a great deal of education of the general public will be needed as well as much new research; and in both these tasks Unesco can and should co-operate.”

“It is, however, essential that eugenics should be brought entirely within the borders of science, for, as already indicated, in the not very remote future the problem of improving the average quality of human beings is likely to become urgent; and this can only be accomplished by applying the findings of a truly scientific eugenics.” – 37

“The Age of the Common Man: the Voice of the People: majority rule: the importance of a large population: – ideas and slogans such as these form the background of much of our thinking, and tend, unless we are careful, towards the promotion of mediocrity, even if mediocrity in abundance, and at the same time, towards the discouragement of high and unusual quality.” – 15

Evolutionary Values and the Quest for a Restatement of Morality

“Of special importance in man’s evaluation of his own position in the cosmic scheme and of his further destiny is the fact that he is the heir, and indeed the sole heir, of evolutionary progress to date. When he asserts that he is the highest type of organism, he is not being guilty of anthropocentric vanity, but is enunciating a biological fact. Furthermore, he is not merely the sole heir of past evolutionary progress, but the sole trustee for any that may be achieved in the future. From the evolutionary point of view, the destiny of man may be summed up very simply: it is to realise the maximum progress in the minimum time. That is why the philosophy of Unesco must have an evolutionary background, and why the concept of progress cannot but occupy a central position in that philosophy.

The analysis of evolutionary progress gives us certain criteria for judging the rightness or wrongness of our aims and activities, and the desirability or otherwise of the tendencies to be noted in contemporary history – tendencies of which Unesco must take account.” – 12

“Thus Unesco’s activities, while concerned primarily with providing richer development and fuller satisfactions for the individual, must always be undertaken in a social context; and many of its specific tasks will be concerned with the social means towards this general end – the improvement of social mechanisms or agencies, such as educational systems, research organisations, art centres, the press, and so forth. In particular, Unesco must clearly pay special attention to the social mechanism of cumulative tradition in all its aspects, with the aim of ensuring that it is both efficient and rightly directed in regard to its essential function of promoting human evolution.” – 17

“Unesco cannot be neutral in the face of competing values. Even if it were to refuse to make a conscious choice between them, it would find that the necessity for action involved such a choice, so that it would be driven eventually to the unconscious assumption of a system of values. And any such system which is unconsciously assumed is less likely to be true than one which is consciously sought after and studied.” – 39

“Unesco must accordingly promote the study of philosophy as an aid in the clarification of values, for the benefit of mankind in general. It must also do so in order to have its own clearly thought-out scale of values to guide it in its own operations, both positively in what it should undertake or assist, and negatively in what it should avoid or discourage.

Here it will be guided by the philosophy of evolutionary humanism which I adumbrated in my first chapter. Such a philosophy is scientific in that it constantly refers back to the facts of existence. It is the extension and reformulation of Paley’s Natural Theology and those other philosophies which endeavour to deduce the attributes of the Creator from the properties of his creation. […]

It will accordingly relate its ethical values to the discernible direction of evolution, using the fact of biological progress as their foundation, and shaping the superstructure to fit the principles of social advance. On this basis, there is nothing immutable and eternal about ethics, yet there are still ethical values which are general and lasting – namely those which promote a social organisation which will allow individuals the fullest opportunity for development and self-expression consonant with the persistence and the progress of society.

The social aspect of this dual function imposes itself because social mechanisms provide the chief basis for rapid human evolution, and it is only through improvement in social organisation that progress can be secured. […]

Further, even if there are broad ethical principles which are general and lasting, yet their detailed formulation will and must change from age to age. The ethics of tribal life differ inevitably from those of feudalism or of industrial civilisation. Our ethical systems to-day are still largely predicated on a pre-scientific and nationally fragmented world. We have to relate them to our new knowledge and our new closeness to each other. […] In general, we may say, it is becoming necessary to extend our personal ethical judgements and responsibilities to many collective and apparently impersonal actions – in other words to undertake a considerable socialisation of ethics.

It will be one of the major tasks of the Philosophy division of Unesco to stimulate, in conjunction with the natural and the social scientists, the quest for a restatement of morality that shall be in harmony with modern knowledge and adapted to the fresh functions imposed on ethics by the world of to-day.

Still more generally, it will have to stimulate the quest, so urgent in this time of over-rapid transition, for a world philosophy, a unified and unifying background of thought for the modern world.” – 39


The next part of this series describes the purpose of UNESCO, as outlined by Huxley, to mentally prepare the world for global political unification under a single world government. The remaining three parts of this series describe the major mechanisms used by UNESCO: education, science and the creative arts, and the mass media.

[1] Quotes from Julian Huxley, UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy (1946). Preparatory Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. pdf from UNESCO.

Related Articles

UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy Part 2: The Task of Unifying the World Mind (May 26)

UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy Part 3: Education for World Government (June 2)

UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy Part 4: Guiding Society Through Art and Science (June 9)

UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy Part 5: The Mass Media Division of UNESCO (June 16)

Source: Knowledge Driven Revolution

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

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21 January 2008 15:22

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

They were the blue-eyed blonds born into a sinister SS scheme to further the Aryan race. But the defeat of the Nazis left Norway’s ‘Lebensborn’ facing the vengeance of an entire nation. Here, five former war children talk for the first time about their ordeal – and their fight for compensation

By Rob Sharp

Published: 20 January 2008

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out Ellen Voie says she was locked in a dark room by her adoptive parents © Portraits by Lucinda Marland

other pics 1 2 3 4

They stare blankly into the lens, their lips tellingly pursed. All are the Norwegian subjects of a terrifying Nazi experiment. All were involved in one of the most shocking trials of eugenics the world has ever known. All are Lebensborn – the “spring of life”. And all are here to tell their stories for the first time.

The Lebensborn Society was born on 12 December 1935, the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s right-hand man and head of the SS. He had designed a project to promote an “Aryan future” for the Third Reich and turn around a declining birth rate in Germany. People were given incentives to have more children in the Fatherland as well as in occupied countries, most importantly in Scandinavia, where the Nordic gene – and its blond-haired, blue-eyed progeny – was considered classically Aryan.

But after the conflict had ended, many of the Norwegians born into the programme suffered. In an attempt to distance itself from the occupying forces, the Norwegian government publicly vilified the children born by Norwegian mothers and Nazi fathers. Many of those children subsequently experienced intense bullying, and in some cases, extreme mental and physical abuse. In recent years, a Lebensborn group in Norway has been fighting what it sees as the Norwegian government’s complicity in their horrific ordeal.

Now, these once-persecuted children, many of whom are in their sixties, have been brought together by British photographer Lucinda Marland, who travelled to Norway to interview them and take their portraits, with a 1940s 5×4 plate camera, reproduced exclusively here.

“The people I met described themselves as the lucky ones and maintain that hundreds of others were never able to come to terms with the prejudice and cruelty they ‘ suffered,” says Marland. “They were incredibly humble and proud people still coming to terms with their demons; many of them would be welling up when they were talking to me.”

The Lebensborn programme arrived in Norway in March 1941, six years after the scheme was started in Germany. The occupying soldiers were officially encouraged to father children with the local women. They were reassured that the Third Reich would take care of the child if they did not wish to marry the mother, or were already married. As well as paying all the costs for the birth, the Lebensborn association gave the mothers substantial child support, including money for clothes, as well as a pram or cot. It was noted at the time that only a small proportion of the German fathers wanted to marry the pregnant women and bring them back to the German Reich.

Hotels and villas were requisitioned and 10 Lebensborn homes were established from scratch. Here, more than 8,000 children were registered, and issued with a Lebensborn number and file containing their medical records.

For many of the young, impressionable Norwegian girls who had become pregnant at the hands of the invaders, it was a convenient place to give birth – well away from the disapproving eyes of their peers, with access to the best available care.

But towards the end of the war, the exiled Norwegian government – which had set up shop in London – started broadcasting ominous warnings to collaborators in Norway. One said: “We have previously issued a warning and we repeat it here of the price these women will pay for the rest of their lives: they will be held in contempt by all Norwegians for their lack of restraint.”

Soon afterwards, the war ended, Himmler committed suicide and Norway’s pre-war leaders returned. Norwegians cut off the hair of many of the “German whores” who had sired children with the Nazi soldiers, and they were paraded through the streets and spat at. Though the women hadn’t broken any law, several thousand were arrested and many interned. A large number lost their jobs, for as little as having been seen talking to a German, and many were traumatised for life. “We will never be rid of the stigma, not until we are dead and buried,” says one of the Lebensborn interviewed by Marland, Paul Hansen. “I don’t want to be buried in a grave; I want my ashes to be scattered to the winds – at least then I won’t be picked on any more.”

The condemnation escalated. The Norwegian government tried to deport the Lebensborn to Germany but the scheme was vetoed by the Allies. In July 1945, one newspaper expressed the fear that Lebensborn boys would “bear the germ of some of those typical masculine German characteristics of which the world has now seen more than enough”. A leading psychiatrist advised that a large proportion of the 8,000 (officially registered) children must be carrying bad genes and therefore would be mentally retarded; “genetically bad”, he said, they “belonged in special institutions”. As a result, hundreds of children were forcibly incarcerated in mental institutions. Here they were often abused, raped and their skin scrubbed until it bled. A member of the Norwegian ministry of social affairs said of them in July 1945: “To believe these children will become decent citizens is to believe rats in the cellar will become house pets.” ‘

Through legal action, many of the children have sought compensation from the Norwegian government for its discrimination against them. A few were offered limited financial recompense. But still officials refuse to take the blame. “The government has acknowledged that several war children have been subject to harassment in society,” says government lawyer Thomas Naalsund. “But it is highly difficult to say now, 50 years later, that the government was responsible for these events.”

Last year, 157 of the children appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but lost on the grounds that their problems happened too long ago. “There is a hypocrisy at the heart of Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize, a country that prides itself on resolving conflicts around the world but refuses to acknowledge its own victims of war,” says the Lebensborns’ lawyer, Randi Spydevold. “I’m disappointed and embarrassed on behalf of Norway. I thought Norway was a great country, the best country for human rights; I didn’t disbelieve that for one moment until I took this case.”

Now, what hope that still exists among the Lebensborn is in their desire that by sharing their stories, one day an international standard will be set that will prevent future war children from being discriminated against, and enduring the atrocities that they themselves have had to live through. Their chilling tales, some of which are reproduced here, are just one small step towards that potential resolution.

Ellen Voie: ‘I was locked in a dark room’

I was born in 1942 in a Lebensborn home, where I stayed until I was adopted aged two. My adoptive parents were incredibly cruel: they beat me and locked me in a small, dark room for hours. To this day I’m still afraid of the dark and have nightmares.

We lived in a small community where everyone seemed to know I was a German child and told me how awful I was. I was very disruptive; I couldn’t concentrate. When I was 16 the local priest refused to confirm me because I did not have a baptism certificate. I had to go to the local authority where I found out that my parents had changed my name.

Then I went to Denmark to study. While there I worked as a nursery nurse, and fell in love with a German, but my parents disapproved and I had to return to Norway to continue studying.

A year after I returned, a friend and I were walking to the cinema when a car pulled up with some boys in it. My friend said she knew them so we got in, but the car broke down. My friend went off with one of the boys to get spare parts and left me alone with the other boy, who raped and almost killed me. A taxi driver saved my life.

I later discovered I was pregnant from the attack. I was 19 years old. My parents threw me out of the house and put me in a home, where I stayed until my son was born. My parents then insisted I give up my baby; I was only allowed to hold him for a few minutes before they took him away. But I was determined that history would not repeat itself and with the help of a social worker I got my son back.

Despite all the hardships, I got an education and my work as a social worker has helped me deal with my past. I’ve dedicated my adult life to helping others, children in particular. It helps me to forget my own tormented past. I now live with my husband and dogs in Oslo.

Paul Hansen: ‘They classed me as a retard’

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

I think my mother’s family put pressure on her to give me up, so I was born in a Lebensborn home in 1942 and my mother left me there.

I later learnt that after the war a government delegation came to the home to decide what to do with the 20 war children, including me, who had been left there. We were lined up and the doctor said he would take us. It turned out that he was the head of a mental institution. There was no medical prognosis behind his decision; it was just that we were war children, and therefore must be “retarded” due to our parentage. They made no effort to trace any of our family members, they just locked us up with children so sick that some were incontinent and incapable of feeding themselves. I was four years old.

By the time I was released I had lost any chance of a proper education and for the next few years I went from one home to another.

I was eventually sent to a special school for children with learning disabilities and mental illness. This was the only formal education I received. War children were segregated from the rest of the school. We were not allowed any contact with the outside community. I was then moved to a boys’ home and then another mental institution, where I was finally old enough to sign myself out. The people there helped me get a job in a factory. My colleagues used to taunt me mercilessly until one day I stood up and told them what had happened to me. They never taunted me again and I stayed there for 17 years.

In 1975 I got married but my wife had a nervous breakdown and we divorced in 1977. Then I lived with someone for nearly 20 years but she died of cancer.

I now work as a cleaner and janitor at the University of Oslo and have a long-term girlfriend. As much as it hurts to talk about my past, I do so because it’s important that people know what happened to us. I spent the first 20 years of my life in mental institutions just because my father was a German.

Kikki Skjermo: ‘I was raped when I was 10’

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

I was born in 1945 near Trondheim. My mother was away a lot, finding work. It was my grandparents who brought me up and told me about my father. They provided for me, but never showed me any warmth. I felt like I lived behind a wall of silence; life was very empty and confusing.

At 10 years old I was raped by a local man, who had a deep hatred of the Germans. I didn’t know him but he knew I was a German child. He told me people like me were born to be used. I didn’t dare tell anyone; I stayed in bed for a week pretending I had a stomach upset.

At 15 I was granted special permission to marry my husband. It took me a couple of years to tell him about my history but he has always been a huge support and we’ve been married for 47 years.

Both he and my children encouraged me to trace my father, who I met for the first time when I was 42. We have a wonderful relationship and, when my daughter got married, she asked if my father could walk her down the aisle to show the world that the spell was broken.

It’s taken me a long time to be able to say, it’s OK, I’m a German child. It’s important to speak out to help other war children who aren’t as fortunate as me.

Bjorn Drivdal: ‘They beat me up at school’

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

Growing up in Oslo, I was told my father was sent to the Eastern Front, where he died in action. But my mother would never tell me anything more about him.

I later learnt that when my mother discovered she was pregnant she tried to get an abortion, but the German authorities wouldn’t let her.

I endured school until I was 15; I was always being beaten and couldn’t understand why. I then went to sea, working mainly on cargo ships. On shore leave, I’d often find myself on the shadier side of town – I found it easier to be around people with something to hide.

I’ve been married twice and have five children. Both marriages ended in divorce; I wasn’t easy to live with.

When I turned 57 I took early retirement because I couldn’t concentrate and was having nightmares, and it was then that I confronted my past. I started seeing a psychologist and learnt to explore who I was.

I decided to go to Germany. I knew where my father had lived, so I went to the local newspaper, which helped me with my research. I found my father’s grave and discovered he had actually died in 1974 in a car crash, not in the war as I had been led to believe. It was a devastating blow. But my trip to Germany wasn’t all bad; I met my two half-sisters, who had no idea I existed, and this summer my nephew and his children are coming to visit me.

Gerd Fleischer: ‘I was called a whore’

The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

My mother and father planned to marry, but to marry an SS officer you had to prove three generations of Aryan blood. My mother’s Lapp heritage meant she was not pure enough.

I was born in 1942. My father returned to Germany while my mother fell into poverty, not qualifying for any support from the state, my father or even the Lebensborn programme.

We lived a relatively untroubled life in Lapland until I went to school. One day a fellow pupil called me a “German whore”; I didn’t know what this meant so I ran home and asked my mother. She told me that not everyone is open-minded.

My mother then married a former resistance fighter, who hated anything German, particularly me. Abuse and beatings soon became a regular part of my home life. At 13, I ran away.

Somehow I survived, putting myself through school. I remember being lonely, hungry and cold. The authorities knew about me but did nothing to help.

When I was 18, I left Norway and didn’t return for 18 years. I worked as an au pair in England, and worked and studied in Germany. I managed to trace my father, who initially denied all knowledge of me. But when we met it was physically obvious I was his daughter. I was furious at him – even more so when he spoke ill of my mother. I successfully took him to court for the maintenance he had never paid to me.

Before returning to Norway I spent several years in Mexico, where I fostered two street children. I brought them home with me, but soon realised that Norway hadn’t progressed in its attitude towards ethnic minorities. So I founded the organisation Seif [Self Help for Immigrants and Refugees] to fight for justice for all.