The Lebensborn maternity homes in Nazi Germany, and Nazi occupied Europe, were something I’d heard of but never really read about so when I accidentally stumbled onto Sara Young’s fictional tell set in a Lebensborn home in Bavaria, I bought it.
I’m very glad I did.
My Enemy’s Cradle is the story of Cyrla, a Polish Jew sent to live with her Dutch relatives as soon as Hitler made a move again Poland. Cyrla quickly becomes the best of friends with her cousin Anneke, who has a German soldier for a boyfriend. When Karl, said German soldier, leaves Anneke pregnant, her father signs her up for a Lebensborn home to avoid the shame her condition will bring on his family. But Anneke won’t ever go to the home.
Cyrla will go in her place, deliberately getting pregnant so she can hide from the German inside of Germany.
When Karl is notified that he’s been listed as the father of a baby soon to be born at a Lebensborn home, he’s shocked to discover that it isn’t Anneke at the home.
Torn between who he loves and the duty he’s been given by the Third Reich, the survival of Cyrla and her baby depend on her determination to survive and his willingness to help her do just that.
The only problem I had with My Enemy’s Cradle was that Cyrla decided to get pregnant and did. It was never really a question of whether or not she would because, if she’d hadn’t been, there would have been no book. So it’s sort of a necessary evil in the story.
Other than that, it was a story that kept me completely hooked through the four or five days it took me to read it. An appearance by Heinrich Himmler even manages to lend the story a gravitas that it needs rather than seeming contrived.
You can’t help but hope that everything turns out alright for Cyrla and her baby but you can’t help but wonder, either, how it possibly can turn out alright given the world that she exists in.