14. Typical Child Abduction Operation: Cilli, Yugoslavia, August 3 – 7, 1942
The Nazis adopted a variety of means to seize the sought after “racially valuable” children throughout Europe. A representative example of one of the methodologies used occurred in the town of Cilli, Yugoslavia, in today’s Slovenia, between August 3rd to 7th, 1942. It took place during a crackdown on resistance activities in the region.
It began with the rounding up and herding into a schoolyard of about 1300 people of all ages, many of them relatives of people executed by Yugoslavia’s German occupiers for partisan or suspected partisan resistance activities. After all the families were accounted for, the Germans divided them in into three groups: men, women, and children.
Crying children, including toddlers and infants, were separated from their families and placed in pens, where they were examined by Nazis. Working with clipboards and charts, the officials noted down each child’s physical and facial characteristics to assess his or her “racial value”. Based on their findings, the children were divided into four categories.
Category 1 or 2 were for those who met Himmler’s criterion of what a German child should look like, marking them as potentially useful additions to the Third Reich. Any hint of Slavic features or signs of Jewish heritage consigned a child to the lower racial Category 3 or 4 – untermensch, of no value to the Nazis except as future slave labor. Assuming they were allowed to grow up into slave laborers, of course, and not simply liquidated.
In this instance, the children of categories 3 and 4 were handed back to their parents. 430 children classified as Category 1 or 2, ranging in age from infants to twelve, were taken by their captors, placed on trains, and transported to a holding center outside Graz, Austria. There, they were subjected to a more thorough examination by “racial specialists”, who compared the children’s noses to official ideal lengths and shapes. Their teeth, lips, hips, and genitals were likewise examined and compared to Nazi ideals. Those who failed this second cut were reclassified as Category 3 or 4, and sent away. Those who made it through this second cut and maintained their classification as Category 1 or 2 were handed over to the Lebensborn program.