Accession Number: 2009.27

Type: object

Physical Description: Material yellow star with black interior.
'J' imprinted in centre of star. 

Under the Nazi regime Jewish people were forced to wear identifiers such as Star of David armbands or badges. The badges were often sewn onto a person’s clothing either on the arm, chest, back, or all of those places. The intention was to isolate, harass, and humiliate Jewish people, and further embedded Nazi ideology that Jewish people were different from everyone else by marking them out from the rest of the population. Stars with a 'J' imprinted were predominantly worn in Belgium.

All people held in Nazi concentration camps had identifying badges to be displayed on their camp uniforms, from 1938 all Jewish people had to display a yellow Star of David. The Star of David can be made up of two equilateral triangles, if a person was for example both Jewish and homosexual, then the bottom triangle would remain yellow while the top one would be pink to denote both categories. 

Hans Frank; Governor General of Nazi occupied Poland, decreed on November 23rd 1939 that all Jewish people over a certain age had to wear a 4 inch wide white armband displaying a blue Star of David on their right arm. Jewish people had to pay for the 'Jewish Stars' and were made responsible for their distribution. Any person who broke the order faced severe punishments such as fines, imprisonment or death. The wearing of identifiers was then gradually spread to all Nazi occupied areas. 

Following the Nazi occupation of Bulgaria in 1941 the Jewish population was ordered to display a yellow Jewish Star button stitched on their lapel. Bulgarian Jewish identifying badges were the smallest in Europe and were buttons rather than material. Responsibility for enforcement of this order belonged to the Bulgarian 'Commissariat for Jewish Affairs' (Komisarstvo za Evreiskite Vaprosi [KEV]). Problems enforcing the order included slow production of the buttons, the exemption of privileged Jewish people, and resistance by some people who manufactured Jewish Stars containing the image of Bulgaria's Royal family. 

In April 1941 Nazi Germany and Allies invaded Yugoslavia and facilitated the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia. Forced wearing of Jewish identifiers was implemented in the Independent State of Croatia from June 4th 1941, they had to be marked ž taken from židov (the Croatian word for Jew). Hinrich Lohse, the Reichskommissar for Ostland (Nazi occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania [the Baltic States]) issued instructions in Kovno on July 27th 1941 which included forcing Jewish people to wear the Yellow Star on the left side of the chest and the middle of the back. In July 1941 Romania introduced the wearing of Yellow Stars to the occupied territory of Bukovina and later enforced the order in other areas. 

The 'Police Regulation on the Labelling of Jews' was decreed on September 1st 1941. Section 1 states Jewish people of 6 years of age and over are 'forbidden to show themselves in public without a Jewish star'. It goes on to state the size, shape and colour required, that the star must contain the word 'Jew' and where it must be worn. Section 4 states violations are punishable by a 150 Reichsmark fine, however it does not limit punishment to fines and greater penalties such as imprisonment, beatings, and death were used. 

Nazi occupied Luxembourg introduced the wearing of yellow stars in September 1941, as did Slovakia. The wearing of Yellow Stars becomes compulsory in the Netherlands at the beginning of May 1942. The decree that made the wearing of 'Jewish Stars' compulsory was printed in every Dutch newspaper on April 29th 1942, to come into force 3 days later. It states that Jewish people must wear a Jewish Star in public, defines who is considered Jewish, notes that children under 6 years of age are exempt and describes the size and location of the Jewish Star, which must contain the word ‘Jew’ (written in Dutch). 

In Belgium the decree forcing Jewish people to wear Yellow Stars was issued on May 27th 1942 to come into force on June 3rd 1942. The decree was issued on June 7th 1942 in Nazi occupied France, French badges were to contain the word 'Juif' (Jew) or 'Juive' (Jewess). Pressure was applied to the Hungarian government to introduce the wearing of Yellow Stars in December 1942 but it was not enacted until March 29th 1944, after the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Due to the large Jewish population and immediate effect, Jewish people were compelled to make stars from any yellow material available to them. On February 6th 1943 orders were issued that the Jewish community of Salonika, Greece was to wear the Yellow Star. Resistance prevented the introduction of Jewish Badges to most of the Regat (pre First World War Romanian territories) except Moldavia where the Jewish population were subjected to Jewish badges in 1944. 

Although officially all Jewish people under Nazi rule had to wear an identifier, Danish Jewish people were never subjected to the wearing of Jewish badges. There was strong resistance to all anti-Semitic legislation the Nazis tried to impose on Denmark both from the people and from the Danish King Christian X. A story tells that King Christian X declared if Jewish Stars were to be forced upon the Danish people, he would be the first to wear one. Although this is a myth, the Kings resistance to anti-Jewish legislation is unquestionable, along with strong public opinion against Nazi anti-Semitism. The Nazis never attempted to make wearing yellow stars mandatory in Denmark. 

There were multiple incidents of solidarity with the Jewish population, for example many among the Jewish population in Nazi occupied France refused to wear Jewish Stars and some non-Jewish people wore them as a show of solidarity. Yellow also became widely fashionable in France after their introduction, in the Netherlands an underground newspaper printed 300,000 yellow stars with the statement 'Jews and non Jews are one and the same' on May 1st 1942. Despite this the effects on the Jewish population of forced wearing of the Star of David was powerful, due to the severe punishments for disobedience in countries such as Poland, compliance was almost universal. Diary entries from the time from multiple countries express extreme sorrow, shame and anger at having to wear Star of David identifiers.

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