“The Borghild-project – a discreet matter of the III. Reich”

by Norbert Lenz



The world’s first sexdoll – or ”gynoid” – was built in 1941 by a team of craftsmen from Germanys Hygiene Museum Dresden. The project  was supervised by the famous preparator and technician  Franz Tschakert. The ”Father of the woman of glass”, which happened to be the sensation in 1930’s II. International Hygiene-Exhibit, used his skills  and experience in order to create a kind of doll the world had never seen before.

The ”field-hygienic project” was an initiative of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, who regarded the doll as an ” counterbalance” (or regulating effect )for the sexual drive of his stormtropers.  In one his letters, dated 20.11.1940 he mentions the ”unnessessary  losses”, the Wehrmacht had suffered in France inflicted by street prostitutes.
”The greatest danger in Paris are the wide-spread and uncontrolled whores, picking by clients in bars, dancehalls and other places . It is our duty to prevent soldiers from risking their health, just for the sake of a quick adventure.”

The project – called Burghild in the first place – was considered ”Geheime Reichssache” , which was ”more secret than top secret” at the time.  Himmler put his commander-in-chief SS-Dr. Joachim Mrurgowsky in charge, the highest ranking officer of Berlins notorious SS-institute.

All members of the team – also Tschakert – ware bound to keep the secret.

In July 1941, when Hitler’s army attacked russia, an unknown but ambitious danish SS-Doctor Named  Olen Hannussen took over from Mrurgowsky. Perhaps he was the one who changed  Burghild to Borghild, which is nothing more than the danish equivalent.

Hannussen pushed everybody forward to make the project a success. The ”galvonoplastical dolls” – manufactured in a bronzemold – were meant to follow the Stormtroopers in ” desinfections-trailers” into the enemy`s land, in order to stop them visiting ”infection herds”  - linke front-brothels and ”loose women”. At least, this was Himmler ‘s plan. A psychiatrist Dr. Rudolf Chargeheimer , befriended with Hannussen and also involved in the project, wrote him a letter to clearify the difficulties.

”Sure thing, purpose and goal of the dolls is to relieve our soldiers. They have to fight and not be on the browl or mingle with ”foreign womenfolk”. However:  no real men will prefer a doll to a real woman, until our technicians meet the following quality standards-

1.      The synthetic flesh has to feel the same like real flesh

2.      The doll’ s body should be as agile and moveable as the real body

3.      The doll’s organ should feel absolutely realistic.”

Between June 1940 – 1941  IG Farben had already developed a number of ”skin-friendly polymers” for the SS. Special characteristics : high tensile strength and elasticity. The cast of a suitable model proved to be more difficult.

Borghild was meant to reflect the beauty-ideal of the Nazis , i. e. white skin, fair hair and blue eyes. Although the team considered a doll with brown hair , the SS- Hygiene-Institute insisted on manufacturing a ”nordish doll”. Tschakert  hoped to plastercast from a living model  and a number of famous female athletes were invited to come to his studios, among them Wilhelmina von Bremen and Annette Walter. In the process Tschakert realized it was the wrong way.  In a letter to Mrurgowsky he came to the conclusion: ”Sometimes the legs are too short and look deformed, or the lady has a hollow back and arms  like a wrestler. The overall appearance is always dreadful and I fear there is no other way than to combine.” While Mrurgowsky still favoured a ”whole imprint” of NS- diva Kristina Söderbaum, the Borghild-designer decided to build the doll’s mold in a ”modular way”. In Tschakerts view the doll should be nothing more than a” female bestform”, a ”perfect automaton of lust”, that would combine ”the best of all possible bodies”. The team agreed on a cheeky and naughty face , a look-a-like of Käthe von Nagy, but the actress politely declined to borrow her face to Tschakert’s doll.  After Mrurgowsky’ s exit , Dr. Hannussen rejected the idea to cast a face from a living person. He believed in an ”artifial face of lust”, which would be more attractive to soldiers.

In his logbook he wrote:

”The doll has only one purpose and she should never become a substitute for the honourable mother at home... When the soldier makes love to Borghild, it has nothing to do with love. Therefore the face of our anthropomorphic sexmachine should be exactly how Weininger described the common  wanton’s face.”

Today Arthur Rink, born 1919, a master of art and student of Hitler’s favourite sculptor Arno Breker, is the only living eye-witness of the most discreet kept project of the III. Reich.

After a short practical training at ”Puppenwerk Käthe Kruse” he worked since 1937 in Tschakerts studio at the German Hygiene-Museum in Dresden. He joined the Borghild-team as early as 1940: There was on sculptor (rink), a varnisher, a specialist for synthetic materials (Tschakert), a hair-dresser , a lathe operator and  - in the beginning-  a mechanic from ”Würtemberg’s Metallfabrik” in Friedrichshafen. The first construction-document  showed that Tschakert had planned to use” a simple aluminium-skelleton”. But soon he changed his mind and decided to use Elastolin. The synthetic flesh was another problem. Rink: ” The material was not easy to find. Mr. Tschakert, an expert on plastics, had tried several materials based on rubber or butyl-rubber: All came from IG Farben or from the Rheinischen Gummi- und Celluloid Fabrik. One material was called Ipolex, it was extremly tearproof, but it developed yellow spots when cleaned with certain detergents.” At this stage Rink gave the doll‘ s torso  the finishing touch, working with plaster and a mixture of ”Schwarzmehl (?) and glue” Under Hannussens strict directions  ”ten wanton-faces” (Rink) were modelled, and used by Dr. Chargeheimer in  psychological tests. Chargeheimer and Hannussen were convinced, Borghild’s success would depend in a major way on her ”facial expression”. Contrary to common believe , that men get only aroused through female sexual characteristics they thought it all would ”depend on the right face”. Rinks plasters were used to produce some model-heads in a showroom-factory in Königsberg. Varnished and hair-dressed they looked a bit like wigholders.

Purpose of this costly exercise was to find out what type of woman the soldiers would really fancy.  Or like Chargeheimer wrote to Hannussen – ”the idea of beauty harboured by the SS might not be shared by the majority of our soldiers.”  He even considered ”the vulgar could appeal to most ordinary men”. The results of  Dr. Chargeheimers tests at the barracks of Soldatenheim St. Helier  are not known.  Fact is, that at this time, Rink and Tschakert had already finished a complete model of the doll. Arthur Rink made a solemn declaration about what happened next.

”Three types of dolls were planned : Typ A :168, Typ B : 176, Typ C : 182 cm.

Typ B would be the first to go into serial production. The members of the project were divided about Borghild’s breasts. The SS favoured them round and full, Dr. Hannussen insisted on “a rose hip form, that would grip well” and he won the dispute. The first model of Borghild was finsihed in september 1941. She was exactely the “nordish type”.

The idea of our hairdresser to give the doll a “Schneckenfrisur”(earphones of hair) was rejected by Hannussen. He wanted her to have “a boyish hair-do” to underline that Borghild was “part of the fighting forces”– a field-whore and not an honourable Mother.

Borghild’s presentation in Berlin was a great success.  Himmler was there  and Dr. Chargeheimer. While the gentlemen examined her artificial orfices , Franz Tschakert was very nervous, but Himmler was so enthusiast that he ordered 50 Borghilds on the spot. It was considered to move to a special production facility , because Tschakert’s studio was too small to cope with the production of 50 dolls. In the face of more and more unpleasant  developments in the east Himmler dropped his plans one week later and cut instead our budget.

In the beginning of 1942, some weeks after Stalingrad, the whole project was put on hold. All construction-documents had to be returned to the SS-Hygiene-Institute. The bronze-mold  for Type B was never finished. I have no clue of whereabouts of the doll, but I presume, that she  - like all my plasters and studies  - was send to Berlin. If she was kept in Tschakerts studio in Dresden, it is most likely that she was destroyed in Februray 1945, when  allied bombers destroyed the city.”


Fact is: the bombs devastated the Hygiene-Museum . Two models of the woman of glass – Taschkert masterpiece were destroyed.


Photo subtitles:

Arthur Rink was kind enough to contribute the only photos left from the Borghild-doll.


“They are small contact-sheets: Facial study no2. Dominant and  Body Total, sideways. I found both photos in the bin of the museum‘s laboratory. I have no other pictures, because it was forbidden to take photos.”


Body Total,sideways shows the first Borghild-doll as presented in 1941 to Himmler at the SS-Hygiene-Institute in Berlin. The influence of Rinks teacher Arno Breker is evident. Breker‘s work is a hypertrophy of the natural bodys expression. The doll is aesthetical refined and  reduced to a max of sexual appeal. According to Rink the torso was meant to stay “without artifial hair”. It is possible that the reason for that, was a simple  consideration of the hygienic risks .


About the author:

Norbert Lenz, born 1966 in Hamburg, is a freelance-journalist contributing regulary to magazines like Stern, Max and  Focus.


The translation was provided by his wife Susanne Lenz.