Key Terms & Concepts

Key terms & concepts relating to the stolen children phenomenon

  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

    In 1989, the leaders of 140 countries made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting this agreement. It has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform the lives of many children around the world.

  • Delegates from countries that signed the UN Genocide Convention (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

    The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

    The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 9 December 1948, and signified the international community’s commitment to “never again” after the atrocities committed during the Second World War. Its adoption marked a crucial step towards the development of international human rights and international criminal law as we know it today.

  • Front cover of a brochure for the programme

    The Lebensborn Programme

    The Lebensborn programme was launched in 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. The term “Lebensborn” means “Fountain/Spring of Life”. Its main goal was to increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany based on Nazi eugenics (also called “racial hygiene” by some eugenicists).

  • Sonnenwiese

    The Lebensborn home in Kohren-Salis, near Leipzig, Germany


    The Lebensborn homes and maternity wards were part of the Population & Race Policy of the Lebensborn programme. Their purpose was to help increase the “Aryan” population of Germany in two ways – it was a place for unmarried “racially valuable” mothers and a place where kidnapped “Aryan-looking children” from occupied territories were “Germanized”.

  • Germanization


    The terms “Germanization” (Eindeutschung) and “re-Germanization” (Wiedereindeutschung) were used by the Nazis to describe a process of “transforming non-Germans into Germans”.

  • At the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, a racial hygienist measures a woman’s features in an attempt to determine her racial ancestry. Berlin, Germany, date uncertain

    “Aryan Race”

    For years before he rose to power and became the Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler was obsessed with ideas about race which he promoted through his speeches and writings. These notions revolved around the concepts of racial “purity” and the superiority of the “Aryan master race”.

  • The Search Begins by Pauline McLeod

    Being/Feeling Uprooted – Effects and Consequences

    Being uprooted in childhood leaves a lasting effect, impeding a child’s and later an adult’s ability to feel a sense of belonging, of having roots.

  • Eugenics poster entitled “The Nuremberg Law for the Protection of Blood and German Honour”. The illustration is a stylized map of the borders of central Germany upon which is imposed a schematic of the forbidden degrees of marriage between Aryans and non-Aryans and the text of the Law for the Protection of German Blood. The German text at the bottom reads, “Maintaining the purity of blood ensures the survival of the German people”. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Hans Pauli

    Eugenics (or: Racial Hygiene)

    Eugenics, or “racial hygiene”, was a scientific movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that inspired a significant number of Nazi policies.

  • Afghan child in Fylakio Centre Near the Greek-Turkish Border, Greece, February 2020

    Unaccompanied Minor Refugees

    An “unaccompanied child” is a child separated from both their parents and other relatives who is not being cared for by any other adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so.