a Jewish baby winner of the most beautiful Aryan baby contest

Fascinating story found at Flickr (Mundo Uno Photo Pool):

Hessy Levinsons was born in 1934. When she was six months old, Hessy was taken to a leading Berlin photographer to have her portrait taken. A few months later this picture appeared on the cover of the Nazi publication, "Sonne ins Haus" [Sun in the House]. Frightened by the possible consequences of their exposure as foreign-born Jews, Hessy’s mother rushed to the photographer. He explained that he had known she was a Jewish child and had deliberately submitted her photograph to a contest for the most beautiful Aryan baby in order to ridicule Nazi racial theory, and Hessy was selected as winner of the contest among all the German babies.

Several months later an aunt in Memel recognized Hessy’s portrait on a picture postcard in a local store and sent it to the Levinsons in Berlin. The card was captioned "Best wishes for the birthday." After the publication of her photograph Hessy was kept largely at home lest she be recognized in the street and her parents questioned about her identity.

In 1936 her father was arrested by the Gestapo on a trumped-up tax charge. He was released only after his accountant, a Nazi party member, came to his defense. Following this incident the Levinsons left for Latvia, where they remained for a year until deciding to move to Paris in 1938. The family had fully reestablished itself when the Germans entered Paris. Her father Jacob applied for American visas but had no way of knowing when they might come through. In 1941, when the round-up of foreign Jews began in Paris, the Levinsons fled to Memac-sur-Mer, a coastal town near Bordeaux. From there they were led by members of the French resistance to Nice.

In the meantime Jacob received notice that their American visas had arrived, but that only 45 days remained to get to the U.S. before the visas would expire. Unable to find immediate transport to the United States, Jacob applied for an extension of their U.S. visas. The U.S. Department of Immigration denied these extensions.

Jacob then secured Cuban visas for the family and booked passage on the Serpa Pinto, a Portuguese ship that left from Lisbon in early in 1942 for Havana. The family spent the next seven years in the Cuban capital, where Hessy and her sister grew up. In 1948 the Levinsons reapplied for immigration to the U.S. and arrived in New York in 1949.

a Jewish baby winner of the most beautiful Aryan baby contest

Baby picture of Hessy Levinsons, the Jewish winner of the most beautiful Aryan baby contest, published on the cover of the German publication, "Sonne ins Haus: Illustrierte Familienzeitschrift mit Versicherung."

Photo posted by michelleSoeMoe, courtesy of www.ushmm.org.

2 responses to “a Jewish baby winner of the most beautiful Aryan baby contest

  1. Pingback: Baby Photo Contest

  2. That is such a great story! I'm glad it had a relatively happy ending.

Leave a Reply