The kidnapping campaign of Nazi Germany | DW Documentary

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Published 2 years ago

On orders from Heinrich Himmler, the Nazis abducted children from Poland for forced Germanization. Hermann Lüdeking, Jozef Sowa and Alodia Witaszek have never met, but they shared the same fate.

Tears still come to Jozef Sowa’s eyes when he talks about his life. His parents were murdered by Wehrmacht soldiers in Poland in 1943, and he and his four siblings were taken to Germany. Four of them managed to return to Poland. But his younger sister Janina was given up for adoption - as a supposedly German child. She still lives in Germany today. This kidnapping was planned. In 1941, Himmler, who headed the Nazi SS, gave the order to "gather young children who are especially racially suitable from Polish families and for us to raise them in special modestly-sized kindergartens and children’s homes."

Professor Isabel Heinemann explains, "By so doing, he aimed to build up the German race." For years, the historian has been researching the fates of the estimated 50 thousand children in Europe who were snatched. The largest group comes from Poland. Without their biological parents to protect them, the children were given to German families by the "SS Race and Resettlement Main Office." Their names and dates of birth were changed to obscure their true identity.

After the war ended, those whose origins could be traced returned to their homelands. But their native countries had often become foreign to them and being singled out as a German "Hitler child" made reintegration difficult. Those responsible for the kidnapping were never brought to justice.

DW Documentary gives you knowledge beyond the headlines. Watch high-class documentaries from German broadcasters and international production companies. Meet intriguing people, travel to distant lands, get a look behind the complexities of daily life and build a deeper understanding of current affairs and global events. Subscribe and explore the world around you with DW Documentary.

Subscribe to:

For more visit:

💬 Comments

History is filled with untold stories. Thanks for shining a light on this story.

Author — Chinoodin 47


My father was one of those kids. He told me how he was taken from his family when he was 9 years old. He had no idea where he was taken. I can't imagine what he went through. My dad is gone but I remember every story he told about his life in time of war. I love you and miss you dad so much. ❤

Author — Utka s


This is why history is important. I don't know why US children are being 'sheltered' from these truths. These things need to be remembered.

Author — Writing_Monkey


So sad. It breaks me seeing him crying when he talked about his mother getting stabbed with a pitchfork.

Author — Yaneiza Perez


I feel bad for that man, his sister that beyond brainwashed and in willing naiveness and denial about being really Polish and not at all in blood or born German, to the point where she refuses to acknowledge their real Polish parents/family is truly heartbreaking.

Author — Cass


Makes me realize the childhood I had wasn’t so traumatic. This is a terrorizing childhood one could not imagine.

Author — Keep it all the Way Funky


My heart bleeds for the world must never be allowed to forget...

Author — Paula Downing


So very tragic what happened to these families, but hearing that some of the children thought dead did survive. So many lost to starvation, disease, cold-blooded murder. I just will never be able to wrap my head around how so many Germans, and Nazi cronies, actively participated in the Holocaust. It’s unimaginable thinking that so many were capable of having such stone cold hearts.

Author — CyberRasputen


The people of Poland are so strong and brave. They remember history and fight for their freedom.

Author — Grandma Nancy


As sad as all of this is isn’t Alice’s story of having two mothers just such a happy outcome to her story. And I am so happy her mother was able to find her and have her daughter back in her life after serving a concentration camp

Author — jessica romanoff


This is an excellent doc. The last part when the gentleman remembers his friend playing at a recital for the Nazis is so moving. And it really serves to sum up the story, to humanize the inhumanity of the social position of these people. I only want to add that it is a mistake to think the stupid pseudo-scientific racism of the Nazis was specific to the Nazis. Yes Nazi policy was incredibly thorough, but such ideas circulated in Europe and the US, as is shown at the beginning. The Nazis looked to Brits and Americans for legitimation of their racist BS, and they found it. Very thought provoking doc. Thanks DW.

Author — geinikan1kan


Hearing that part of the boys mother being stabbed in the stomach 3 whole times with a pitchfork while she was 6-7 months pregnant made me so sad 😞

Author — Nickyy _


Feel so sad for Hermann, not knowing where you come from and not knowing who your family were must be very painful, he may have a large family who could give him all the information he needs plus a lot of family love 🥰

Author — Lorraine Drake


So sad for this old man who has so missed the love of his real and very brave parents.

Author — susie lankey


What a horrible ordeal for the man at the beginning of the documentary. To see his parents being slaughtered like that. Horrible traumatic experience. Very very sad.

Author — Peter Enola


i just can't imagine how much pain and grief in Josef's heart. if he's still alive today, he's probably on his 90s yet still crying and missing the warmth of his mother and father's care like how it shows in this video. the atrocity far beyond evil. heart wrenching to hear such horrific testimony. may the souls of these innocent victims now rest in peace, blessed the hearts of those who are left in mourn and grief.

Author — morosso


The fact that this actually happened and recently and is still happening in other places around the world is heart wrenching

Author — amaia ig


She was pregnant. When he said that.. can’t stop crying. Killing innocence like that. So horribly wrong, I hope history never repeats this. I pray their souls remained untouched; despite their body being so wrongly battered.
It makes you wonder if you were in their position, would you try and protect Jewish people? Risk everything? I hope I would.

Author — Blinkie11


As I continue to watch these documentaries, I see a pattern of history repeating over and over. The next ten years will be even more horrific -everywhere in the world.

Author — Janet jubilee Busener


So heartbreaking to listen to the real human stories of the horrors of war. This is the history we all needed to learn in schools, and maybe, just maybe, our world today would be a happier place to live in, especially for children. 💚🙏

Author — Roisin Mangan