Discover how hatred of our enemies continues to create victims, even after the victory.
That’s how the Norwegian developers described the theme of their app game My Child Lebensborn. Right after World War II, you adopt a child, Klaus or Karin, and must survive in a small Norwegian town. I couldn’t resist taking a look, and downloaded the app on my tablet.
Two hours later, I was still playing, and on the edge of tears.
The artwork and gameplay are simple and wonderful, and the music a perfect soundtrack to the bittersweet story that unfolds. You’re a single parent raising your adoptive child; I chose the girl Karin, because I have a daughter the same age. It’s a hard life. I had to work hard to feed her, and Karin often went hungry, or was alone at home. The basic tasks of feeding and clothing and washing Karin would’ve been overwhelming on their own, but worse things happened.
Karin turned 7 and wanted to know who her parents were. And why was she so bullied at school? Why was she called a “Nazi-kid?” Why did the others call her a German as if it was the worst thing one could be? I had to help Karin struggle with these questions, and watched how she suffered under them.
That’s the lesson of this game, the power of adult prejudices to destroy an innocent, delivered in a powerful, interactive way. As Karin’s adoptive parent, I had to set out to find the answers to her questions about who she was. There are some heartbreaking scenes and situations, and you don’t have to be a parent to be moved by them.
When the game was done, I wanted it to keep going, as painful as some of it was. I didn’t want to let go of Karin.
The game pointed me to the existence of the research group Children Born of War, which studies the effects of war on children, particularly children of foreign soldiers and local mothers. This is a crucial and heart-rending postwar issue, and not just in Germany, as I saw and lived in My Child Lebensborn.