On July 1, the U.K. Telegraph posted the story of Hessy Taft, the baby the Nazis used in their propaganda to epitomize the perfect Aryan child. What the Nazis did not know was that Hessy was Jewish. Ms. Taft is now Professor Taft and teaches chemistry in New York.
The article explains what happened:
In 1935, with the city rife with anti-semitic attacks, Pauline Levinsons took her six-month-old daughter Hessy to a well-known Berlin photographer to have her baby photograph taken.
A few months later, she was horrified to find her daughter’s picture on the front cover of Sonne ins Hause, a major Nazi family magazine.
Terrified the family would be exposed as Jews, she rushed to the photographer, Hans Ballin. He told her he knew the family was Jewish, and had deliberately submitted the photograph to a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby.
“I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous,” the photographer told her.
He succeeded: the picture won the contest, and was believed to have been chosen personally by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
…Her photograph appeared on widely available Nazi postcards, where she was recognised by an aunt in distant Memel, now part of Lithuania. But the Nazis never discovered Prof Taft’s true identity.
Mrs. Taft recently submitted her photograph to Yad Vashem.