Nazi Germany’s ‘Perfect Aryan’ Propaganda Baby Turns Out To Be Jewish

via Bild

via Bild

As an anti-Semitic fervor swept through Germany in the 1930s, the Nazi party began distributing propaganda featuring what they considered to be the “perfect Aryan” child. The little baby was an adorable child with a tuft of dark hair poking out from her bonnet. The Nazis used the image to promote racial purity, suggesting that if only the Aryan race could be purified, then all babies could look this cute. There’s just one problem: the baby was actually Jewish.

The baby’s name was Hessy Taft. In 1935, a Berlin photographer named Hans Ballin photographed Taft in a series of family portraits. At the very same time, the Nazi party announced a contest to find the “most beautiful Aryan baby” and Ballin decided to send in a photo he had just taken of the baby Hessy. According to the Taft family, this wasn’t a mistake by Ballin. He knew the Taft’s were Jewish and did it as a sort of photographic subversion for the government he despised.

“I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous,” the photographer told the family.

Amazingly, his plan worked. The Nazis fell in love with this supposed Aryan child and began posting her face all across Germany. They never did find out that their literal poster child was, in fact, Jewish.

However, the plight of Taft’s family was both common for that time and tragic. In the coming years, the family began to be persecuted more and more by the Nazis. Hess’ father was fired from the opera house where he worked because he was Jewish. Terrified that little Hessy would be recognized in the street and attention would be paid to her family history, her mother and father decided to keep her hidden at home for years. In 1938, the father was arrested by the Gestapo on trumped up tax charges, but luckily a family friend and member of the Nazi party was able to see that he was released.

It was that moment which convinced the Taft’s that they had to flee. After running from nation to nation only to see it fall to the Nazi advance (they lived in Paris only to see France stunned by its total surrender in a matter of months), they finally crossed the sea and settled in America.

Baby Hess grew up to become a chemistry professor in New York. At 80 years old, she can look back on the experience with a very different perspective.

“I can laugh about it now,” the 80-year-old Professor Taft told Germany’s Bild newspaper in an interview. “But if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.” [source]

This week, Taft presented Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial with a copy of a Nazi magazine with her image on the cover.

Despite all the danger it put her family in, she admits that there is a bit of “satisfaction” in knowing that she duped the Nazis. “I feel a little revenge,” she told the paper.