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Star of David badge with Jude worn by a German Jewish youth

Object | Accession Number: 1991.141.5

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    Star of David badge with Jude worn by a German Jewish youth

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    Brief Narrative
    Star of David badge worn by Fritz Gluckstein, circa 1941-1945, in Berlin, Germany. On September 1941, the Nazi regime issued a decree that Jews must wear Judenstern at all times to mark them as outcasts from German society. Fritz's Hebrew class discussed the meaning, embarrassment, and consequences, such as arrest, if caught without it, and what to do if they were attacked. His mother prepared and applied the patches. They had to be sewn tightly on the left and officials would use pencils to try to get behind the star. Fritz was the son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, Georg and Hedwig. After Hitler came to power in January 1933, Jews were prohibited from holding public office. Fritz's father, a prominent judge, was dismissed. Under Nazi racial laws, Fritz was a counted Jew, subject to all restrictions. His maternal aunt Elfriede Dressler provided the family with extra food and supplies. In 1942, Fritz's Jewish school was closed. He was assigned to forced labor service. On February 27, 1943, Fritz and his father were arrested during the Factory Action round up of the remaining Jews in Berlin. He was held in a building on Rosenstrasse with about 2000 other husbands and children of non-Jewish women. The family members demonstrated and demanded the release of their loved ones who they feared would be deported and killed. It was the only public demonstration against the Nazi regime to take place in Germany, and the detainees were released. Fritz and his father worked in a forced labor gang until the war ended on May 7, 1945. Fritz resumed his studies and, in 1948, immigrated to the US. His parents remained in Berlin where his father served as chairman of the new Jewish community's assembly of representatives.
    use:  after 1941 September-1945 May
    issue: Berlin (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fritz Gluckstein
    front, center, black dye : Jude [Jew]
    Subject: Fritz P. Gluckstein
    Fritz Gluckstein was born on January 24, 1927, in Berlin, Germany, to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, Georg and Hedwig Gluckstein. His father, born in 1886 in Oranienburg, was a municipal court judge and a decorated veteran of World War I. Hedwig was born in 1892 in Breslau. Fritz was raised as a Jew, and the family attended a liberal synagogue. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Jews soon were prohibited from holding public office and his father was dismissed from his position. He went to work as a legal advisor for the Jewish community. The family endured severe financial hardship. Under Nazi racial laws, Fritz was Mischlinge [mixed race] and a non-protected Geltungsjude, a counted Jew, subject to all the restrictions imposed on the Jews of Germany. After the November 9-10, 1938, Kristallnacht pogrom, state sponsored anti-Jewish acts became more common, and even more so after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. All valuables and many other belongings, including their pet dog, were confiscated, and their food rations allowed no meat or milk. Fritz left his public school because of increasing antisemitism and enrolled in a Jewish school. Jews were barred from many public places and activities. Hedwig's Gentile sister, Elfriede Dressler, provided the family with extra food and supplies, sneaking them to the family at night. Elfriede often looked after Fritz and they had a prepared story for when they went outside. If they were stopped, Elfriede would say that she was returning from the store and made this Jewish boy carry her things home. Fritz had a normal bar mitzvah in 1940, receiving Mark Twain books as a gift. In his late teens, Fritz registered for military duty, but was rejected because he was a Jew. By 1942, many Jews were being deported to labor camps and to ghettos in Poland. Friends disappeared and the benches in his school got emptier and, in 1942, his school closed. Fritz was put in the forced labor service. His mother was assigned to work at a factory that made military uniforms. The family was forced to relocate to the Jewish area near the Oranienbergstrasse synagogue. When their apartment was bombed, they had to move again. In 1943, on his sixteenth birthday, Fritz was picked up and interrogated by the Gestapo, but released because of his Christian mother. He was then assigned to work in a factory which made armaments for the German Air Force.

    In 1943, their apartment was again hit by Allied bombs and the Glucksteins moved into the Jewish hospital. Fritz was assigned to a demolition and cleanup crew. For four days, Fritz was assigned to Eichmann's Gestapo headquarters in the Reich Security Main Office where he was surprised to meet an SS officer, Ernst von Hardenburg, who was sympathetic to his plight as a Jew. On February 27, Fritz and his father were arrested during a roundup of the last remaining Jews in Berlin, later called the Factory Action. Fritz was soon released from the Clou nightclub where arrestees were detained. But he was rearrested the following week, when he went to pick up the family’s ration cards. He was interned with other children and husbands of non-Jewish women in a building on the Rosenstrasse. The building, a former administrative office of the Jewish Community, became the scene of a demonstration by the non-Jewish wives and mothers. They feared the deportation of their families and demanded the release of their loved ones, and the detainees were released. It was the only public demonstration against the Nazi regime to take place in Germany. In the fall of 1944, Fritz and his father were assigned to forced labor gangs sent to demolish buildings damaged by air raids. One day, Fritz was knocked unconscious by falling building debris. The nearby Catholic hospital cared for him even though it was forbidden for the staff to aid Jews. His labor battalion was also assigned to build defensive barriers around Berlin to slow the Soviet advance. The Soviets captured the city in early May 1945. Fritz had trouble convincing them that he was Jewish because there were so few Jews left. Germany surrendered on May 7. Fritz resumed his studies, but it was difficult to find teachers who were not connected to the Nazi Party. Food was scarce, although the American and Soviet liberators supplied food, and food packages were sent by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Fritz decided to leave Germany, but his father remained because to continue his career elsewhere, he would have to learn an entirely new legal system. Georg resumed his judicial career and served as chairman of the new Jewish community's assembly of representatives.

    Fritz emigrated to the United States, leaving from Bremen on January 18, 1948, on a so-called Liberty ship, Marine Flasher, arriving in New York on January 29. He settled in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, and worked while attending the university where he earned a degree in veterinary medicine. He met his future wife, Ethel, while there and they would have a daughter. He worked for the United States Army and the US Department of Agriculture. Fritz never spoke about his wartime experiences, except in response to questions from his wife or others. After his retirement, he became a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Physical Details

    Identifying Artifacts
    Physical Description
    Yellow cloth badge in the shape of a 6 pointed Star of David. The star outline is formed from 2 overlapping, dyed triangles and has the German word for Jew, Jude, in pseudo-Hebrew font in the center. The edges are folded in and neatly hand sewn to light brown cloth backing. It has many signs of use: overall dark discoloration, slight stains, fabric runs, and loose black threads.
    overall: Height: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm) | Width: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm)
    overall : cloth, dye

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The Star of David badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991 by Fritz Gluckstein.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:21:33
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