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Star of David badge with Jude given to a US liberator by an inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1988.140.4

Star of David badge given to John Hein, 24, a US soldier, 1st Infantry Division, on May 7 or May 9, 1945, by a Jewish female inmate of Zwodau slave labor camp which was liberated by Hein's unit. Hein, an interpreter, was approached by a young woman who asked if he was Jewish. When he said yes, she showed him her Magen David belt buckle which she had kept hidden in the camps. Three of her friends joined them, and "could not believe that there was a Jew, alive and healthy, standing before them." John showed them a picture of his family, and they were "incredulous, before the miracle of an entire Jewish family, still together and well." They told him there were only twelve Jews in the camp, from an Auschwitz transport. They had all lost their entire families in the camp furnaces. There was little food or water and a typhus epidemic and many died daily. In late April, the German guards drove the prisoners away so they could destroy evidence of the camp. The inmates were forced to turn back and few traces of the camp were left. Nearly 1000 starving women were there when troops of the 1st Infantry and 9th Armored Division arrived May 7, also liberating nearby Falkenau slave labor camp. The war ended that day when Germany surrendered. Hein and his family had fled Germany in 1936, reaching the US in April 1939. Hein landed on D-Day, June 4, 1944, and fought through to the war's end when his unit was stationed in Eger, Czechoslovakia.

1945 May 07-1945 May 09
received: Zwodau (Concentration camp); Svatava (Karlovarskyy kraj, Czech Republic)
Identifying Artifacts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of John Hein
Record last modified: 2020-08-24 15:00:35
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