The vast majority of World War II games are focused the adrenaline and glory in warfare (whether or not warfare is truly glorious). However, a new game for mobile devices, My Child Lebensborn, is a game focused on the aftermath of the war, and one of its innocent victims.
What’s a “Lebensborn”?
Lebensborn is a German term meaning “Fount of Life”. It was a state-sponsored program initiated by the Schutzstaffel and run by Nazi Germany. That alone should tell you that the program wasn’t very wholesome.
When Norway was occupied by Germany from 1940 to 1945, there was an estimated 1/8 ratio of occupying soldiers to citizens. During this time the Norwegian economy collapsed and a few thousand children were fathered by the soldiers. The Lebensborn program, which was focused on raising the birth rate of “Aryan” children, saw them as German and sought to raise and indoctrinate them. Often times they would bring these children to Germany, including via kidnapping. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, some of these kids were returned to their parents, but the children and their mothers were ostracized.
Growing up (not) Nazi
My Child Lebensborn takes place in 1950’s Norway with a seven-year-old boy/girl named Karin and you as their guardian. The game is a budget management game. You balance your meager post-war income and time as a single parent against Karin’s needs. You’re also occasionally forced to answer Karin’s difficult questions about why people hate them.
When the game starts, Karin is excited about going to school for the first time with their best friend. However, that enthusiasm is quickly crushed when they become the target of bullying. Kids, adults, and even teachers disrespect and bully Karin due to their heritage. Karin is confused, frightened, and lonely, and their happiness is a hard-won prize.
My Child Lebensborn can be downloaded for $2.99 on the Google Play store, and runs for about five hours. A great feature on Polygon talks about the game’s development, which included interviews with Lebensborn adults about their childhoods.
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