Cradles of the Reich: A Novel
"Every historical fiction novel should strive to be this compelling, well-researched and just flat-out good." — Associated Press
For fans of The Nightingale and The Handmaid's Tale, Cradles of the Reich uncovers a topic rarely explored in fiction: the Lebensborn project, a Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race. Through thorough research and with deep empathy, this chilling historical novel goes inside one of the Lebensborn Society maternity homes that existed in several countries during World War II, where thousands of "racially fit" babies were bred and taken from their mothers to be raised as part of the new Germany.
At the Heim Hochland maternity home in Bavaria, three women's lives coverage as they find themselves there under very different circumstances. 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, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation. Despite their opposing beliefs, 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.
A cautionary tale for modern times told in stunning detail, Cradles of the Reich uncovers a little-known Nazi atrocity but also carries an uplifting reminder of the power of women to set aside differences and work together in solidarity in the face of oppression.
"Skillfully researched and told with great care and insight, here is a World War II story whose lessons should not—must not—be forgotten." — Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things
Praise for Cradles of the Reich: A Novel
"Sets high bar for historical fiction...Every historical fiction novel should strive to be this compelling, well-researched and just flat-out good." — Associated Press
"With this novel Jennifer Coburn gives compelling and necessary literary voice to those impacted the most by Adolf Hitler’s haunting and ironically dehumanizing scheme to generate racially pure infants. Skillfully researched and told with great care and insight, here is a World War II story whose lessons should not—must not—be forgotten." — Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things
"The Handmaid's Tale meets WWII in Cradles of the Reich, which explores the little-known history of Hitler's Lebensborn program and its goal of mass-breeding racially fit babies for the master race. Three German women are destined to collide at a Bavarian breeding home: a blond beauty desperately concealing her unborn child's Jewish heritage, a Nazi official's fanatical young mistress, and a nurse determined to keep her head down in the home's increasingly sinister program of forced adoptions, queasy eugenics, and racial cleansing. Jennifer Coburn's debut historical novel is adept, unforgettable, and brilliantly unsettling!" — Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
"I loved Cradles of the Reich, Jennifer Coburn's fascinating and incredibly well-researched look at this little-known Nazi breeding program and three women whose lives intersect there. Don't miss this wonderful historical fiction debut!" — Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Lilac Girls and Sunflower Sisters
"Cradles of the Reich masterfully delves into the warped underbelly of the Nazi’s Lebensborn Program for racial engineering. With grace and a deft hand, Jennifer Coburn creates indelible female characters that leave us heart torn. This book kept me breathless from chapter to chapter. I couldn’t put it down until the final heroic page." — Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of Mustique Island
"The hopes and dreams of three women collide in this shocking story about a little-known Nazi breeding home in Bavaria. Jennifer Coburn has written a brave and highly original novel; fans of historical fiction will find it compelling—and indeed essential—reading." — Kitty Zeldis, author of Not Our Kind
"A deep well of discussion topics for book-club readers." — Kirkus
"...Ample topics for discussion groups. For fans of Martha Hall Kelly's The Lilac Girls, Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women, Jennifer Worth's Call the Midwife, and World War II women’s stories." — Booklist
"The engrossing plot, richly drawn characters, and underlying horror make this a book that lingers in the reader’s mind." — New York Journal of Books