It had been raining on and off yesterday when we were driving north to Myrkdalen – but today the weather has deteriorated even more. It is raining cats and dogs this morning so our plan of getting out early and explore the area was a bit of a problem. Heading out for even short hike is cancelled with this kind of rain and the clouds are hanging pretty low so there is a limit to just how roads we want to be driving on – since we would just get into the fog on top of the hills.
Considering any major explorations for the day seems to be off the table we try to find something to do which is easily reachable in this kind of weather conditions. We decide to drive to a nearby hotel at Stalheim this is one of the many historic hotels around Norway located in the mountains. The hotel supposedly also has a decent restaurant for lunch so there is an extra reason to make this the destination for the first stop of the day.
The hotel of Stalheim is located just outside the small village of Stalheim – the hotel has an excellent location on top of a small hill overlooking the valley below. Despite the low hanging clouds there is still a great view of the area and some of the small hill tops in the area are sometimes visible under the clouds.
In addition to having an amazing location with a good view from just outside the hotel the place also has a bit of history – though it isn’t all good. On the grounds of the hotel is an old bunker from where there is a superb view of the valley below – it is pretty obvious this was a good place for a machine gunner position or similar if you wanted to protect the valley against a possible allied invasion of occupied Norway. Another reason for a bunker might be to protect the hotel against resistance attacks during the occupation.
The hotel was part of the Lebensborn program of Germany. This program was supposed to increase the population growth of children who were deemed racial pure. In the beginning it was a way for unmarried German women of Aryan decent that got children to give these children up for adoption of Aryan families in Germany. This was a way to increase the growth of the population of Germany in a way which was considered racially attractive. The children were mainly adopted by families with a SS-member as the male head of the household.
At first the Lebensborn program was only open for German women but as Germany occupied most of Europe the program was expanded to countries with racial desirable women. This was particularly the case in north Western Europe and in Norway the organization had the biggest number of offices spread across the country of any occupied country.
During the war Stalheim Hotel was transformed into an orphanage for the Lebensborn organization with a total of hundred places for children at a time and it was the second biggest institution of this sort in Norway. The woman coming to the place was mainly Norwegian woman who had gotten pregnant with a German soldier – and many of the children were adopted by German families – not always with the consent of the mother. After the war some of these children were located in Germany and reunited with the mother in Norway but most never returned to Norway.
The hotel does have a little museum with some history of the place – but this part of the history seems to be ignored by the hotel.