Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Nazis’ Poster Aryan Child Was Actually Jewish

Hessy Taft’s baby photograph was selected as the perfect Aryan baby by Joseph Goebbels himself

By: Daniel Koren

Published: July 2nd, 2014 in News » World

Nazis' Poster Aryan Child Was Actually Jewish

By 1935, Berlin was at the height of a fierce anti-Semitic propaganda machine perpetrated by the Nazis and the Third Reich.

Musicians Pauline and Jacob Levinsons had moved to the city from Latvia to pursue careers in the classical genre in 1928, but found out that, due to their religion and the Nazis despicable agenda, they could not obtain any work. Jacob would find a job as a door-to-door salesman to make ends meet.

At that time, Pauline, his wife, decided to take their six-month-old daughter, Hessy, to a renowned Berlin photographer, Hans Ballin, to have her photograph taken.

She was shocked to see, a few months later, that the picture ended up on the front cover of Sonne ins Hause, a well-known Nazi family magazine.

Levinsons confronted Ballin immediately, who assured her that he knew the family was Jewish, and that he had purposefully submitted the photo for a contest looking for the “most beautiful Aryan baby.”

“I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous,” the photographer had said to her.

It appears that he succeeded.

The photo of Hessy won the contest and was even handpicked by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

Such is the story of how Hessy Taft, nee Levinsons, became the unlikely poster child for the Third Reich, a Jewish infant hailed as the most beautiful Aryan baby.

Taft revealed the story in a recent interview with German newspaper Bild, just after she had presented her Nazi magazine cover to Israel’s Yad Vashem museum. “I can laugh about it now,” the 80-year-old Professor said, “But if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”

She also recalled that her parents were frightened that Hessy would be recognized on the streets, so they kept her at home, after her photo became heavily used in Nazi propaganda materials.

In 1938, Jacob Levinsons was arrested by the Gestapo, but was released after his accountant – a Nazi – defended him. The Levinsons fled Germany shortly after, moving back to Latvia, before settling in Paris. With France soon under the occupation of the Nazis as well, they fled once again, this time for Cuba.

Now a professor of chemistry in New York, Hessy Taft said “I feel a little revenge” when presenting the magazine cover to Yad Vashem. “Something like satisfaction.”

Indeed. It must be nice to know you’ve made a fool of the entire Nazi party, particularly of Joseph Goebbels.

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