Nazi "Perfect Aryan" Poster Child Was Jewish

(Photo: Ohad)

Hessy Taft was born to Latvian Jewish parents who moved to Germany in 1928 to pursue musical careers. In 1935, her mother took her to a photographer to get pictures. A few months later, the mother was shocked to see Hessy's picture on the cover of a major Nazi magazine.

Hessy's mother confronted the photographer and demanded an explanation. The photographer, Hans Ballin, explained that he had deliberately submitted a photo of a Jewish baby to a Nazi photography contest that searched for the most beautiful Aryan baby. The Telegraph explains:

“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.

Frightened she would be recognised on the streets and questions asked about her identity, Prof Taft’s parents kept her at home.

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.

The family fled Germany in 1938. They went to Latvia, then France, then Cuba, and then the United States, where they settled. Taft, now 80, is a professor of chemistry in New York City.

-via I Own the World

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