HESSY Taft was six months old when her mother brought her to Berlin photographer Hans Ballin to have her picture taken. World War II had yet to begin, but anti-Semitism and the marginalization of Jews was in full swing in Germany.
When little Hessy’s photo turned up on the cover of a prominent Nazi magazine, her mother feared the family would be exposed as Jewish and targeted.
Taft’s mother reportedly went back to the Ballin to ask how the image had ended up in the Nazi contest for “most beautiful Aryan baby,” to which he responded, “I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous.”
The Tafts kept their young daughter hidden after the incident as her photograph was by now widely circulated on Nazi postcards, and they feared she would be recognized. The Nazis never learned her true Jewish identity.
Now almost 80 years later the little girl, Hessy Taft, is…
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