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Implementing part of the Nazi race and biological ideology, Lebensborn, or the Well of Life Society, was founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1936. Its primary purpose was as a home for unmarried mothers of approved racial stock, whose children would either be adopted by SS men, or, if the father could be induced to marry the mother, put back in a family that met eugenic standards.

This aspect is not controversial. There were rumors, later in WWII, that they were "stud farms" where SS men could mate with willing women who wanted a child, but there is far less evidence to this claim.

The organization was founded as part of the Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA} in 1936, with its first facility Steinhoering, near Munich, in 1936. While it appears to have continued to have staff support from RuSHA and the Main Staff Office of the Reichscommissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism (RFKDA), Himmler took official control in 1938, with Max Sollman as manager and Inge Viermetz as deputy.