An 80-year-old Professor of chemistry in New York recently brought the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel a Nazi magazine featuring her photograph on the front cover, revealing how she had become the poster child for the ‘perfect Aryan’ baby.
Hessy Taft told a German newspaper: “I can laugh about it now, but if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”
When Taft was only six month old, she had been chosen by Nazi authorities as the image of what a perfect Aryan baby should look like. However, the Nazis never knew of Taft’s Jewish identity.
In 1935, Taft’s mother took her as a 6-month-old to a Berlin prominent Berlin photographer, hoping to have a nice photo of her daughter to showcase in her home. Only a few months later, her mother, Pauline Levinsons, was shocked to see her daughter’s picture on the Nazi-run Sonne ins Hause magazine. Levinson, who then became fearful for the livelihood of her family, rushed to the photographer. The photographer, Hans Ballin, explained to Taft’s family that he “wanted to make the Nazis [look] ridiculous.”
According to the UK’s The Telegraph, the photo was believed to have been personally chosen by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
Taft’s family fled Nazi Germany shortly after her father’s 1938 arrest and subsequent release by the Gestapo. They had initially moved to Latvia, but then relocated to Paris, and were again caught in Nazi territory. Her family would once again have to flee. In 1949, they became citizens of the United States.
Taft said of bringing her photo to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, “I feel a little revenge. Something like satisfaction.”