Hessy Levinsons Taft (born May 17, 1934) is a woman, born to Jewish parents in Berlin, best known for having been featured prominently as an infant in Nazi propaganda after her photo was surreptitiously entered in, and then selected as the winner of, a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby.
Taft’s image became one of the most subversive of the 20th century when it was subsequently distributed widely by the Nazi party in a variety of materials, such as magazines and postcards, to promote Aryanism.
Her parents, Jacob and Pauline (Levine) Levinsons, were unaware of their photographer’s decision to enter the photograph into the contest until learning that the photo of their daughter had been selected by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as the winner of the contest.
Fearing that the Nazis would discover that their family was Jewish, Taft’s mother informed the photographer that they were Jewish. The photographer told her mother, Pauline, that he knew they were Jewish and deliberately entered Taft’s photograph into the contest because he “wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous”.Taft told the German-language newspaper Bild that “I can laugh about it now” in July 2014, “but if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”
Hessy Levinsons Taft is now a chemistry professor in New York.
Werner Goldberg (October 3, 1919 – September 28, 2004) was a German who was of half Jewish ancestry, or Mischling in Nazi terminology, who served briefly as a soldier during World War II and whose image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as “The Ideal German Soldier”, and his image was later used in recruitment posters for the Wehrmacht. 1935 Nuremberg Laws classed persons with three Jewish grandparents as Jewish; those with two Jewish grandparents would be considered Jewish only if they practised the faith or had a Jewish spouse. Therefore according to the Nuremberg Laws, Werner Goldberg woulds have been considered a “non-Aryan” German by Nazi authorities because of his German Jewish mother.
1938 he joined the army. Werner saw military action soon after completing basic training. He participated in the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Shortly after the invasion of Poland began, a German army photographer took photos of Werner Goldberg and sent them to the Berliner Tagesblatt, a major newspaper in Germany’s capital. They liked the photos and published a full-page picture of Werner Goldberg in their Sunday edition. The newspaper didn’t state his name. They probably didn’t know it. They captioned the photo ‘The Ideal German Soldier.’ Hitler was very impressed by the picture and ordered it reprinted on Nazi propaganda and army recruiting posters.
Eventually Nazi officials discovered the truth, that the ‘ideal German soldier’ was a Jew. Goldberg was forced out of the army, but he was never sent to jail or a concentration camp. In 1942, Werner Goldberg rescued his sick father who was being held in a Gestapo prison hospital for Jews. On Christmas Eve, Werner went to the hospital. He gambled that the guards and Gestapo agents at the door would either be absent from their posts or drunk because of the holiday, and he was right. Werner got into the hospital by showing the guards a photo of himself captioned ‘the ideal German soldier.’ The guards recognized the photo and let Werner into the hospital. Once inside, Werner simply went to his father’s room, dressed his father in street clothes that he brought with him and simply walked out the door with his father. Werner Goldberg survived the war and died in 2004.