The perfect Aryan was really Jewish

Posted on 02 January 2019 by admin

Here is a perfect follow-up to my Dec. 20 column on the significant role of Jews in the story of photography.
The following story unfolded in 2014 during a presentation of a gift from Hessy Levinson Taft, now 80, to the Yad Vashem archives.
A newly married Latvian Jewish couple came to Berlin in 1928 with hopes of finding success as opera singers. Once the husband’s stage name of Lenssen was revealed as the Jewish name of Levinson, his contract was canceled and he had to find work out of his field.
Bad timing, as his wife soon gave birth to Hessy Levinson, a beautiful baby girl. At the urging of her mother, she took her child at 6 months to a professional photographer, Hans Ballin, who produced what they considered a beautiful photograph of a beautiful baby.
Once they placed the framed photo on their piano, proudly satisfied, they thought no further of it until a visitor recalled having recently seen it on the cover of a Nazi endorsed publication.
Once the parents confirmed that the photo on the magazine cover was that of their daughter, they sought out the photographer for an explanation.
They were terrified, since this was a Nazi-endorsed publication. They couldn’t understand why their (Jewish) baby would be displayed.
Their photographer explained. The Nazis approached him and nine of the other top photographers to each submit their 10 best photos. The best one of the Aryan race was to be chosen by Joseph Goebbels.
The photographer laughed, but the Levinsons were terrified that they would be found out and be punished severely, if not executed.
Their photographer thought that the business about the superiority of the Aryan race was stupid and that this contest result proved it.
The Levinsons made a series of moves to avoid being swept up in the Holocaust, making it to Cuba and eventually settling in the United States.
The Nazis never realized that their beautiful Aryan baby contest only proved one thing, that they were fools.
Hessy, “the perfect baby,” eventually grew up to raise her own family, becoming a chemistry professor in New York state.

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