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Factory-printed Star of David badge acquired by a Polish Jewish refugee and activist

Object | Accession Number: 2018.395.2

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    Factory-printed Star of David badge acquired by a Polish Jewish refugee and activist

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Yellow cloth, factory-printed Star of David badge, acquired post-war by Emanuel Scherer, a Jewish refugee and activist from Krakow, Poland, and likely used by its original owner between 1941 and 1945. The badge was used by the German government throughout their occupied territories to stigmatize and control the Jewish population. As a law student at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Emanuel joined the Jewish Labor Bund. It was a social-democratic organization devoted to strengthening Yiddish culture and socialist values through their network of schools and cultural and fraternal institutions. In 1930, he moved to Warsaw and joined the Warsaw Committee. In 1935, he was elected to the Central Committee. In 1938, he was elected to the Warsaw City Council, and worked as Secretary of the Trade Union of Office Workers. Emanuel worked as co-editor for multiple Bundist publications, and also contributed numerous articles and essays. Shortly after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Emanuel, his wife, and their infant son escaped to Vilno (in modern-day Lithuania), and immigrated to Sweden. They eventually made their way east, ending up in Japan. In April 1941, they sailed from Japan to the San Francisco, California, under false identities, eventually settling in New York. In 1943, Emanuel became the Bund representative to the Polish National Council in London, England, where the Polish government operated in exile. In 1946, he returned to his family in New York and worked with the Bund until his death.
    Date
    use:  after 1941 September 01-before 1945 May 09
    Geography
    use: Europe.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gail Scherer
    Markings
    front, center, printed, black ink : JUDE [Jew]
    Contributor
    Subject: Emanuel Scherer
    Biography
    Emanuel Scherer (1901-1977) was born in Krakow, Austria-Hungary (now Poland), to Jewish parents. He also had multiple younger siblings. During this time, Jews comprised almost a quarter of the Krakow population and Emanuel became familiar with Yiddish culture as a child. He attended the gymnasium of St. Jacka in Krakow, a classical school founded in 1857. He went on to earn a law degree from Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

    As a student, Emanuel had joined the Jewish Labor Bund, a social-democratic organization devoted to strengthening Yiddish culture and socialist values through their network of schools and cultural and fraternal institutions. The Bund was founded in 1897, to organize opposition to repression of Jewish workers in Russia, and was generally hostile to Zionism and Communism. Emanuel joined the Central Committee of Krakow’s Bundist youth movement. In 1930, he moved to Warsaw and joined the Warsaw Committee, and was the youngest man elected to the Central Committee in 1935. In 1938, he was elected to the Warsaw City Council, and worked as Secretary of the Trade Union of Office Workers. Emanuel worked as co-editor for multiple Bundist publications, also contributing numerous articles and essays.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded western Poland, prompting Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Around the same time, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland, under a nonaggression pact (the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) with Germany. During the Blitzkrieg (lightning war), German forces defeated the Polish, and by the end of the month, Warsaw had surrendered. The Germans terrorized the Polish people, shooting thousands of civilians and requiring men to participate in forced labor. They also aimed to destroy Polish political, religious, and intellectual leadership. Beginning in May 1940, the Germans enacted a plan, called AB-Aktion, to swiftly kill Polish leaders and intellectuals in Warsaw, including those in Jewish roles.

    Shortly after the war began, Emanuel and his wife, Bronka (1902-?), escaped to Vilno (in modern-day Lithuania), and immigrated to Sweden with their son, Victor (1940-2012). They eventually made their way east, ending up in Japan. In April 1941, they sailed from Japan to San Francisco, California, under the false identities of Zygmunt, Ewa, and Ryszard Lieberfreund, eventually settling in New York. In 1943, Emanuel became the Bund representative to the Polish National Council in London, England, where the Polish government operated in exile. He stayed there until the end of the war in 1945, and a year later, he returned to his family in New York. He became secretary of the coordinating committee for the Jewish Labor Bund and editor of the Bund monthly, Unzer Zeit. He also served as a representative in the Socialist International, an organization of social democratic, socialist, and labor parties formally established in 1951, and as vice-president of the Jewish Labor Committee, which was founded in 1934. He continued to attend meetings and debates related to his activism until his death.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Identifying Artifacts
    Category
    Badges
    Genre/Form
    Magen David.
    Physical Description
    Yellow cloth badge in the shape of a 6 pointed Star of David. The star outline is formed by two black triangles, printed to overlap one another. In the center is German text in a font resembling Hebrew. The cut edges are folded under and sewn down with basting stitches in black thread, which are not visible on the front. The black printing has bled through and is visible on the back. The edges, corners, and tips of the star are fraying.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.750 inches (9.525 cm) | Width: 3.250 inches (8.255 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, ink, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Scherer, Emanuel.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Gail Scherer, the daughter-in-law of Emanuel Scherer.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 09:49:35
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn625788

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