STOCKHOLM — Kari Rosvall was 64 years old when she found out she had been bred as part of a Nazi program, with the purpose of creating a supposed Aryan elite. "I was seen as a product, like a pig bred in an animal factory," she says in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Rosvall was adopted by a couple and grew up on a farm in Malexander in southern Sweden. As a young adult, she decided to find out more about her background, and managed to track down her birth mother in Norway. Although she visited several times, her mother refused to reveal anything about her father, or how Rosvall had been brought into the world. Many years later, she found out her dad had been German, and that she had been brought to Germany from an orphanage in Oslo.
Now, in a new memoir, Barnet från Ingentans (The Kid From Nowhere), Rosvall tells the story of her life, and how she found out the truth about her background.
Speaking with the Dagens Nyheter on Thursday, she recounts how some women in Norway, which was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, voluntarily started relations with German officers, while others were systematically raped in order to give birth to children of "pure race." Young Kari was one of thousands of kids who born into the Nazi project known as "Lebensborn" (Fount of Life).
Referring to notorious top Nazi official Heinrich Himmler, she recounts that "Himmler personally visited the Lebensborn clinic where I was born, and picked the strongest of the kids, like dogs in a kennel."
In the autumn of 1944, not even a month old, and dubbed only "number 1/5431," she was shipped to Hohenhorst outside Bremen in northern Germany, and placed in an orphanage with other blond-and-blue-eyed babies to receive the best possible food and care. The "Lebensborn" project continued until the end of the war.
Later, Rosvall tells how she was brought to a Swedish orphanage by the Red Cross, unable to speak, and was nearly sent to a home for the mentally disabled. But in late 1947, she was adopted by her Swedish parents, which Rosvall describes as her first memory, her first encounter with anyone who cared for her.