Kari Rosvall, Irish Woman Discovers Her Nazi Past

Kari Rosvall never felt she fit in. She lived in Malexander, Sweden with an adopted family and knew nothing about her real parents. Her classmates were kind but her teachers and other adults treated her differently. She left school at age fourteen, trained as a nurse and eventually got married and had a son. Although it seemed like her personal and professional life were coming together, she wasn’t happy. She suffered from depression and anxiety and felt something was missing in her life; she had questions about her past that she needed answered. In her 20’s, Kari wrote to the Red Cross hoping to find information about her biological parents. The Red Cross revealed that her father was German and her mother was from Norway. They also gave Kari her mother’s address.

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Kari Rosvall as a child

Kari Rosvall was nervous about meeting her real mother. She had so many questions: Who was her father? Why had she been given away? Could she find love from her mother? When they met, Kari found her mother cold and hostile. She didn’t share much history except that her Norwegian husband had been killed and she went to work for the German Government in Norway as a secretary for high ranking SS men. Her mother introduced Kari to her relatives but only as a “friend” not as a daughter. After their meeting, Kari tried to keep in contact with her mother but eventually received a letter from her saying that they had met, and that was enough. After her mother’s death, Kari would learn from a half-brother that her mother had been tortured by the Germans, and then ostracized as a collaborator by her family and community.

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Photo of a Lebesborn breeding facility

Kari’s first marriage failed but she was able to meet another man. Her new husband was offered a job in Ireland and the couple decided to move there. In Ireland, Kari found acceptance and simple acts of kindness she had never known in Scandinavia. She became active in the local church and was quickly befriended by the ladies there. At a dinner party one night, a member of the Irish-Scandinavian club asked her about her name, which didn’t sound Swedish. Kari told the man that her father was German and her mother Norwegian. The man agreed and said “That sounds about right”. What Kari did not know was that the man, a local historian would look into her past. A few days later, the man sent her a picture of herself as a baby, the first baby picture Kari had ever seen of herself. The photograph revealed more, Kari was a child of Lebensborn, a Nazi breeding program for SS Men and single women to create new “Aryan” babies, usually out of wedlock. Kari Rosvall was baby number I/5341, one of perhaps 12,000 Lebensborn babies born in Norway.

Lebensborn, meaning “Spring of Life” was started by the Nazi’s to breed children of proper pedigree for the “Master Race”. Under Lebensborn, Wives of SS men and pregnant single women could receive care and support for their babies, or could leave their children to be adopted by acceptable homes. Sixty percent of the women at Lebensborn were single with a large number coming from the League of German Girls. During the War, Lebensborn also abducted children from occupied countries who were found to have “Aryan” features.

Discovering her past helped Kari put her life in a new light. She met other Lebensborn children in Norway when they came together to seek a settlement for their treatment as outcasts after the war. They shared their stories with each other and Kari found that many of them were in worse mental shape than she had been in. Many of them had grown up in orphanages and were discriminated against as reminders of the Nazi Regime. There was depression, alcoholism and suicides among them. After the settlement was paid, the group split up, not caring to keep in touch with each other.

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Kari Rosvall today

With her money from the settlement, Kari bought a new kitchen, and more importantly, used it to become a citizen of Ireland, a country she felt welcome and happy in. She wrote a book about her childhood which for her was a dream come true. With her book, Kari hopes to give a voice to the suffering that all the Lebensborn children of Norway felt. Writing the book gave her new found strength and helped her put her past behind her.

Kari still wonders how the Nazi’s could use children as animals, something she could never understand as a mother. Today, Kari Rosvall still doesn’t understand, but she forgives.


For More Information about Kari Rosvall, Check Out:

Nowhere’s Child

2 thoughts on “Kari Rosvall, Irish Woman Discovers Her Nazi Past

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