Winner of Nazi 1935 ‘most beautiful Aryan baby’ contest revealed to be Jewish
The winner of a contest in Nazi Germany to find the most beautiful Aryan baby was recently revealed to have been Jewish, the Telegraph reported today.
Last weekend, Hessy Taft presented the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel with copies of the Nazi family magazine Sonne ins Hause that featured an image of her as an infant on the cover.
The image was allegedly selected by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels himself, after it had been submitted by a well-known Berlin photographer, Hans Ballin.
Taft said that her parents, Jacob and Pauline Levinsons, had ordered the portrait in 1935, as anti-Semitic tensions in the city rose. Her father had been an opera singer, but had to work as a traveling salesman after the Nazis came to power.
Her mother was terrified when she discovered her daughter’s face on the cover of the Nazi family magazine. When she approached Ballin, the photographer told her that he knew the family was Jewish, and that he had submitted the photograph because of that fact.
“I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous,” the photographer told Taft’s mother.
The photograph appeared not only on the cover of Sonne ins Hause, but on postcards used throughout the Third Reich as well. The Nazis never discovered the true identity of their poster child, but they did arrest Taft’s father in 1938.
With the help of a friend, he was released shortly thereafter, then embarked on a path out of Nazi Germany that eventually landed the family in the United States in 1949.
When she presented the portrait to Yad Vashem, Taft acknowledged that “I feel a little revenge — something like satisfaction.”
Watch a video about Taft’s portrait via the USC Shoah Foundation below.