In the 1930s, the Nazi party began issuing propaganda featuring the image of a "perfect Aryan" child. If you were looking to build a master race of adorable white people, you could do a lot worse: Hessy Taft, the model, had round eyes, a charmingly surprised expression, and a perfectly tousled tuft of dark hair on her head. She was also Jewish.
Taft, now a chemistry professor in New York, recently gave a copy of a Nazi magazine with her image on the cover to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
A Berlin photographer named Hans Ballin snapped the photo of Taft in 1935, when the reign of Hitler was in full swing. At the time, the Nazi party was holding a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby, and unbeknownst to the child or her parents, Ballin submitted her photo, knowing full well what he was doing. "I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous," he reportedly told the girl's mother.
Taft won, and soon, her picture was everywhere. Her parents kept her inside the house for fear of retribution from the party, and eventually, the family fled the country, settling in the U.S. after years on the run across Europe.
"I can laugh about it now," she told the German newspaper Bild (as translated by the Telegraph). "But if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn't be alive."
[Image via Bild]