Yad Vashem recently received a most-unusual artifact from the Nazi era – a Nazi family magazine featuring an image of the perfect Aryan baby on its cover, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.
The twist is that the baby was a Jew, whose picture was knowingly submitted in a contest in order to mock Aryan philosophy and whose true identity was never revealed.
That baby was Hessy Taft nee Levinsons, whose parents had moved from Latvia to Berli to pursue classical music careers and would later flee to Paris and Cuba, eventually landing in the United States.
Taft's full story has long been on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and in the "Holocaust Chronicles" book, but the occasion of her donating her yellowing copy of the Sonne ins Haus magazine sparked new interest in this incredible story.
As Taft, a professor, recalls, her mother took her to a well-known photographer in Berlin in 1935 to have her baby picture taken and was horrified to see Hessy's image on the magazine's cover months later.
She was afraid the family would be exposed as Jews, but when she told the photographer, Hans Ballin, he told her he "deliberately submitted the photograph to a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby," according to The Telegraph.
"I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous," the photographer told her.
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels allegedly chose the photograph personally.
Even though relatives in Memel, now in Lithuania, saw the photograph, the Nazis apparently never discovered the true identity of their perfect Aryan baby.
The Levinsons family fled Germany after the father was temporarily jailed – and released with the help of his Nazi accountant – in 1938, heading for Paris. After the city fell to the Nazis, the French resistance helped the family escape to Cuba. The family moved to the United States after the war.
“I feel a little revenge,” The Telegraph quoted her as saying on the occasion of presenting her photograph to Yad Vashem. “Something like satisfaction.”
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