The Nazis’ propaganda machine, during WWII, adopted a young girl’s image as the embodiment of the ideal Aryan child. The irony, discovered decades later, lies in the fact that the girl was Jewish. Hessy Taft, who was six months old in 1935, had her photograph unwittingly submitted to a beauty contest by her photographer. Unbeknownst to him, the competition was organised by the Nazi party, searching for the most beautiful Aryan baby. Taft’s image was selected by none other than Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda.

The family lived in fear of exposure, but they managed to survive the war, eventually fleeing to Cuba and later the United States. Taft’s image was widely circulated on postcards, magazines, and other Nazi propaganda materials, symbolising the Aryan ideal. Taft, now a chemistry professor in the US, donated the original photograph to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, in 2014. She revealed her story to the world, hoping it would serve as a reminder of the absurdity of racial theories and the dangers of propaganda.

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