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Star of David badge imprinted Jude worn by a German Jew

Object | Accession Number: 2003.361.13

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    Star of David badge imprinted Jude worn by a German Jew
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Star of David badge worn by Moritz or Hildegard Henschel who were deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in June 1943. Moritz was an influential lawyer in Berlin when Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933. As government persecution of Jews intensified, Moritz and Hildegard sent their daughters Marianne, 15, to Palestine and Lilly, 13, to England in 1939. Moritz was on the board of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, created by the Nazi government in February 1939 to organize Jewish affairs. The Association was eventually forced to assist with deportations. In 1940, Moritz became president of the Berlin Jewish Community. In January 1943, Moritz became president of the Reich Association, when Leo Baeck was deported. On June 10, 1943, the Reich Association was shut down and Moritz and Hildegard were deported to Theresienstadt. Moritz was elected to the Jewish Council and put in charge of the Freizeitgestaltung, which produced cultural events and materials. On May 9, 1945, the camp was liberated by Soviet forces. Moritz and Hildegard went to Deggendorf displaced persons camp, then emigrated to Palestine in 1946.
    Date
    use:  approximately 1941 September-approximately 1945 May
    Geography
    use: Berlin (Germany)
    use: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Yoel Givol and Michal Lilli Kahani, in memory of their grandparents, Hildegard and Moritz Henschel
    Markings
    front, center, black dye : Jude [Jew]
    Contributor
    Subject: Moritz Henschel
    Subject: Hildegard Henschel
    Biography
    Moritz Henschel was born on February 17, 1879, in Breslau, Germany (Wroclaw, Poland), to Karl and Emma Deutsch Henschel. In January 1910, he graduated from the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and began working as a lawyer. Moritz served in the German Army in World War I (1914-1918), and was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class, for bravery. After the war, he worked at the Landgericht, the regional court in Berlin. On June 28, 1922, Moritz married Hildegard Alexander, who was born on April 29, 1897, in Berlin. She served as a nurse in World War I and worked as a lab technician at a pharmacy company from 1919 to 1923. They had two daughters: Marianne, born on September 6, 1923, and Lilly, born on April 5, 1926.

    In January 1933, Hitler came to power and, by summer, Germany was ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. Moritz was a member of the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of German Jews), which was established in September 1933 to oversee Jewish education, vocational training, welfare and economic assistance, and emigration and was an influential member of the Berlin Kehillah (Jewish Community). On March 5, 1938, the Jewish Community was no longer recognized by the Nazi government as a public corporate body, so Moritz, along with Heinrich Stahl and Herbert Selinger, ran it as an emergency committee. As conditions worsened, Moritz and Hildegard decided to get their daughters of Germany. In November 1938, they sent Marianne, 14, to a Zionist preparatory camp in Rudnitz. On January 31, 1939, Marianne left for Palestine with a Youth Aliyah group and settled in a kibbutz. In 1939, Lilly, 13, was sent to England on a Kindertransport. In February 1939, the Reichsvertretung was restructured into the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Association of Jews in Germany), which oversaw Jewish emigration, education, labor, and welfare. Moritz was on the board. Hildegard worked for its Office of Emigration from 1939 to 1940. In August 1939, the Berlin Jewish Community was reorganized as a society under the Reichsvereinigung, with Heinrich Stahl as president. In March 1940, Moritz became president of the Jewish Community when Heinrich Stahl was removed by the government. Hildegard was a secretary for the Community’s health administration. On September 19, 1941, Jews in Berlin were forced to wear Star of David badges. The government began large scale confiscations of Jewish property, starting with an old age home. Hospitals and schools were also confiscated.

    Living conditions for Jews worsened as the government pursued the policy of making Berlin Judenfrei (free of Jews). In October 1941, the government began large scale deportations of Jews from Berlin. The Reichsvereinigung was forced to assist with the deportations. On Yom Kippur on October 1, Moritz and two of his employees were taken from the synagogue to meet with the Gestapo. They were told that a large number of people were being deported to Łódź. The Jewish community had to submit an updated list of all Jews in Berlin and turn one of the synagogues into a transit camp for 1,000 people. After 4,000 people had been deported, Moritz was told the next transports would be sent to a kibbutz near Riga and Minsk. He believed that cooperation was necessary because they would carry out the deportations more humanely than the German SS. Moritz had secret contacts in the railroad and they soon realized that they were being lied to about the destination of the transports. They received news that people were being moved from Łódź and Riga to Stutthof concentration camp, where they were killed. They never heard about the transport to Minsk again. The government eventually established more assembly camps in Jewish cemeteries, hospitals and synagogues, from which Jews were deported to eastern Europe. The deportations increased, but Moritz and Hildegard were protected from being deported because they were employees of the Jewish Community and had special identification. They wore their Star of David badges on the left and had a stamped armband. After the president of the Reichsvereinigung, Leo Baeck, was deported to Theresienstadt in January 1943, Moritz became president.

    On June 10, 1943, German SS went to Moritz’s office and arrested him, telling him that the Reichsvereinigung no longer existed. Moritz, Hildegard, and the remaining leaders of the Reichsvereinigung were taken to an assembly camp in Berlin. On June 16, Moritz and Hildegard were deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia. Moritz was elected to the Judenrat (Jewish Council). The chairman of the Judenrat reported to the German camp commandant and administered the camps for the Germans. He was advised by the members of the council. Moritz was put in charge of the Freizeitgestaltung (Leisure Time Department), which produced cultural materials and events, such as music, poetry, and plays. Moritz was also made head of the post office. The camp was overcrowded, with severe food shortages, and disease and starvation were widespread. Moritz and Hildegard survived by receiving food parcels from Sweden and keeping a low profile. They were liberated on May 9, 1945, by Soviet forces.

    In fall 1945, Moritz and Hildegard went to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany. In 1946, they were given permission to immigrate to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. On September 13, 1946, Moritz gave a lecture about the last years of the Berlin Jewish Community. Moritz, age 68, died on April 22, 1947, in Tel Aviv.
    Hildegard Alexander was born on April 29, 1897, in Berlin, Germany. During World War I (1914-1918), she served as a nurse for the German Red Cross and was awarded a medal for her service. She worked as a lab technician at a pharmacy company from 1919 to 1923. On June 28, 1922, she married Moritz Henschel, who was born on February 17, 1879, in Breslau, Germany. They had two daughters: Marianne, born on September 6, 1923, and Lilly, born on April 5, 1926.

    In January 1933, Hitler came to power and, by summer, Germany was ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. As living conditions worsened for Jews, Hildegard and Moritz decided to get their daughters out of Germany. In November 1938, they sent Marianne to a Zionist preparatory camp in Rudnitz. On January 31, 1939, Marianne, 15, emigrated to Palestine with a Youth Aliyah group and settled in a kibbutz. Lilly, 13, was sent to England on a Kindertransport in 1939. Moritz served on the board of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (The Reich Association of Jews in Germany), and became the president of the Berlin Kehillah (Jewish Community) in March 1940. Hildegard worked for the Reichsvereinigung Office of Emigration from 1939 to 1940, then as a secretary for the Jewish Community’s health administration. On September 19, 1941, they were forced to wear Star of David badges. The government began confiscating Jewish property, starting with an old age home. Hospitals and schools were also confiscated. The conditions in Berlin worsened as the government pursued the policy of making Berlin Judenfrei (free of Jews). In October 1941, the Nazi government began large scale deportations of Jews from Berlin. The Reichsvereinigung was forced to assist with the deportations. Moritz believed that cooperation was necessary because they would carry out the deportations more humanely than the Germans. As the deportations increased, the number of Jewish suicides increased. Every case was taken to the hospital where Hildegard worked and she kept track of the rising numbers. Moritz eventually learned that he was being lied to about the destination of the transports and that people were being killed. Moritz and Hildegard were protected from being deported because they were employees of the Jewish Community and had special identification. They wore their Star of David badges on the left and had a stamped armband. In January 1943, Moritz became the president of the Reichsvereinigung after the former president was deported.

    On June 10, 1943, the German SS closed the Reichsvereinigung. Hildegard, Moritz, and the remaining leaders of the Reichsvereinigung were arrested and taken to an assembly camp in Berlin. On June 16, Hildegard and Moritz were deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp. Moritz was elected to the Judenrat (Jewish Council) and was put in charge of the Freizeitgestaltung (Leisure Time Department), which produced cultural materials and events, such as music, poetry, and plays. Moritz was also made head of the post office. The camp was overcrowded and severely lacking in food. Death from disease and starvation was common. Hildegard and Moritz survived by receiving food parcels from Sweden and keeping a low profile. They were liberated on May 9, 1945, by Soviet forces.

    In fall 1945, Hildegard and Moritz went to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany. In 1946, they immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. Moritz was in poor health and died at age 68 on April 22, 1947, in Tel Aviv. On May 11, 1961, Hildegard testified in the trial of Adolf Eichmann and discussed her experience in wartime Berlin and Moritz’s position in the Jewish Community. Eichmann, as chief of Reich Security Main Office department IV B 4 (Jews). was responsible for organizing the mass deportations of Jews to concentration camps and killing centers. The trial was televised and attracted worldwide attention as the first detailed, public examination of the evidence and atrocities committed during the Holocaust. Eichmann was found guilty at the trial and executed in 1962. The trial experience was very difficult for Hildegard and she never spoke about the Holocaust again. Her daughter Lilly died in 1962. Hildegard, 86, died in 1983 in Israel.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Identifying Artifacts
    Category
    Badges
    Physical Description
    Dark 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 German text in a font resembling Hebrew in the center. The edges have been folded over and machine sewn onto the back with black thread. The black star outline is visible around the edges. There are loose threads, the edges are frayed, and the corners are discolored.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm) | Width: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, dye, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The Star of David badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Yoel Givol and Michal Lilli Kahani, the grandchildren of Hildegard and Moritz Henschel.
    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 18:29:54
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn523078

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