In Brief

How One Photographer Made the Nazis Look Ridiculous

by Jillian Steinhauer on July 2, 2014

Hessy Taft as an adult and as a baby on the cover of a Nazi magazine (screenshots via YouTube: 1, 2)

Hessy Taft as an adult and as a baby on the cover of a Nazi magazine (screenshots via YouTube: 1, 2)

The Nazis were obsessed with purity and perfection, especially of the Aryan race; they didn’t want the Jews, gypsies, and Slavs around in part because they didn’t want those “inferior races” contaminating the gene pool. But it turns out that the baby the Nazis chose as the ultimate representation of the Aryan race was Jewish.

The poster child was a woman named Hessy Taft, born to Jewish parents in Berlin in 1934. As the Telegraph reported, her mother took her to have her picture taken at six months old by a photographer named Hans Ballin; not long after, Taft’s picture showed up on the cover of Sonne ins Hause, a major Nazi family magazine. When Taft’s mother asked Ballins what had happened, he said he’d purposefully submitted the photo to a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby. “I wanted to allow myself the pleasure of this joke,” Taft recounts him saying in a video testimony on YouTube.

He succeeded: the Nazis plastered Taft’s face all over propaganda posters, postcards, and magazines, never realizing that she wasn’t their ideal Aryan. “I feel a little revenge,” Taft said in a recent ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial — although that revenge would be even sweeter if we could tell it to Joseph Goebbels himself.

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  • Gretchen Spitsfire

    Ahhhh sweet sighs of satisfaction, it’s the little things that mean a lot. :)

  • bunnyday

    Werner Goldberg was a half Jewish Nazi Wehrmacht soldier (briefly) whose image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as the “Ideal German Soldier” and whose image was used in recruitment posters.

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