80-year-old Hessy Taft spoke of how she, at six months old, was chosen by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels himself as the ‘perfect Aryan baby’ with her photos used in Nazi propaganda; the catch was, she was a Jew.
The chemistry professor from New York, recounted how someone of a Jewish descent as she was able to make it to the cover page of one of the Nazi’s magazines as a six-month-old baby hailed as the ideal Aryan baby by the notorious party.
Jacob and Pauline Levinsons, Professor Taft’s parents, were from Latvia. Both extraordinary singers, they moved to Berlin in 1928 to pursue careers in classical music. However, as the Aryan obsessed Nazis were rising in power by that time, both of them found themselves at their luck’s end as they were from the race the party and their notorious leader, Adolf Hitler, abhors.
Mr. Levinsons was kicked out of the opera company he belonged to because he was a Jew. He had to shift jobs and became a door-to-door salesman.
It was in 1935, when antisemitic attacks were prevalent within Germany’s capital, that Paula took her then six-month-old daughter Hessy to a well-known German photographer, Hans Ballin, to be photographed.
Unknown to her, the photographer entered Hessy’s photo in a competition spearheaded by the Nazi’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels — the search for the perfect Aryan baby. Surprisingly, the picture of the daughter of the two Jews from Latvia bested the other babies and won!
Hessy became the Nazis’ poster girl for the ideal Aryan tot. It was even reported that the Nazi propaganda minister handpicked her himself.
Pauline discovered the choosing of her daughter a few months later when she saw Hessy’s baby photo gracing the cover page of one major Nazi family magazine, the Sonne in Hause.
She got terrified that the identity of her family would be discovered she rushed to Ballin to confront him. The photographer told her that he knew the family was Jewish and knowingly submitted the photo to the party’s search for the most beautiful Aryan baby to make fun of their obsession at everything Aryan.
And he did succeed as the little Jewish baby with the round face and the chubby cheeks got chosen as the model Aryan baby.
As the Nazis not only used Hessy’s photo in that magazine but she was also featured in several Nazi postcards as the perfect Aryan baby, the Levinsons kept her hidden in their home for fear that people would recognize her if they take her out into the streets. An aunt in Memel, Lithuana recognized the little girl. Other than that, Hessy’s identity remained a secret. The Nazis were never able to discover who their perfect little Aryan was.
In 1938, her father got arrested by the Gestapo on a tax charge. Fortunately, his accountant, who was also a Nazi party member, came up to his defense and had him released. After that close brush with the law, Jacob and Pauline took their “perfect Aryan” baby and fled the country. They went to Latvia then to Paris.
When the city fell into the hands of the Nazis, they again escaped with the help of the French resistance. They eventually went to Cuba and then moved to America after WWII ended – in 1949.
The once ideal Aryan poster baby of the Nazis recently handed the magazine which had her six-month-old photo in its cover page to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel. According to her, that part of her life was something she could laugh about now. But she also is thankful the Nazis never found out her identity because if they did, she and her whole family would have been killed.
As for Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi member was responsible for promoting the party and their fascination with making everything Aryan.
He was the one to organize the attacks against the Jewish population. He banned them from the field of arts and media. he also censored the news and went on to support only the films that showcase Nazism.
Goebbels killed his wife, six children and himself through cyanide in 1945 a day after Hitler committed suicide.