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Factory-printed Star of David badge printed with Jude, manufactured in Nazi Germany.

Object | Accession Number: 2014.194.2

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    Brief Narrative
    German, factory-printed Star of David badge, acquired postwar by Ernest Bergman. On September 1, 1941, all Jews in the Reich six years of age or older were required to wear a badge, which consisted of a yellow Star of David with a black outline and the word “Jew” printed inside the star in German. The badge was used to stigmatize and control the Jewish population. Prior to this large-scale decree, identification requirements for Jewish individuals varied by locality and administration. As Germany annexed territory, the same or similar decrees were enforced in other countries, resulting in the manufacture of similar badges with text in various languages. The badges specified in the decree were first produced by Berliner Fahnenfabrik Geitel & Co., a flag factory. They were distributed by government and police authorities at the cost of 10 Reichspfennig each. Later, they were duplicated by other factories. Ernest was living in Laupheim, Germany, with his mother, brother, and grandparents, when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. The increasing restrictions and pressures on Jews led Ernst to immigrate to St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1936. He was joined by his brother in 1937, and mother in 1939. The family remained in Switzerland for the duration of World War II, and immigrated to the United States in September 1946.
    manufacture:  1941 September 01-1945 May
    manufacture: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ernest Bergman
    face, center, printed, black ink : Jude [Jew]
    Previous owner: Ernest Bergman
    Dr. Ernest Bergman (1922-2020) was born Ernst Leopold Bergmann in Munich, Germany, to Wilhelm (Willy, 1890-1925) and Julia Steiner (1896-1972) Bergmann. Wilhelm ran a distributorship for his father’s hair dyeing and hairpiece manufacturing business in Laupheim. Ernst’s younger brother, Willy Josef (1925-2012), was born in 1925, the same year their father died following an accident in Munich. Ernst moved with his mother and brother to Laupheim, Germany, where both Wilhelm and Julie’s families owned prominent businesses. They lived with Julia’s parents, Simon (1864-1937) and Melanie (1872-1956) Steiner. Simon owned a local tannery, had a sizable farm, and led the town’s congregation. The boys attended primary school in addition to receiving a Jewish education from their grandfather.

    In January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Jewish decrees were soon passed that restricted every aspect of Jewish life. Although Ernst was forced to leave the Laupheim Sports Club, he and Willy were permitted to remain in the local Latin school, due to their father’s distinguished military service in World War I. In September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws excluded Jews from citizenship and mandated the separation of Jews and non-Jews. The increasing pressures led Ernst to immigrate in 1936 to St. Gallen, Switzerland, where he lived with Julia’s brother, Helmut Steiner, and his wife, Edith. Helmut managed the family-owned hops import-export business. Willy joined him in 1937. Julia, widowed grandmother Melanie, and great-grandmother Lina Herz (?-1941), also immigrated to Switzerland in 1939.

    The family remained in Switzerland for the duration of World War II. In 1941, Ernst graduated from high school in St. Gallen, and attended an agricultural extension school. From 1941 to 1946, Ernst worked as a farmhand, and in 1942, Willy began training as a chef. In 1944, Ernst was nearly sent to a labor camp, but his employer managed to get the order dropped so he could continue working in agriculture. As a stateless alien, Julia could not obtain a job, but volunteered with refugee aid groups. On February 7, 1945, Julia was among the volunteers who received 1,200 Jewish prisoners released from Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia.

    In September 1946, Ernst left Switzerland with his mother and brother for the United States. They arrived on October 7 and settled in New York City. Willy began working as a chef at the Waldorf Astoria, and Julia began working as a chambermaid at another hotel. Julia’s mother joined them the following year. Ernst worked at an apple orchard in Poughkeepsie until January 1948, when he returned to New York City to greet his fiancée Alice H. Adler (1918-2008), who he had met in St. Gallen. They married in February and moved to Oregon, where Ernst worked on a Steiner family hops farm. Ernst became a naturalized citizen in 1952, and Americanized his name to Ernest Bergman. He continued his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Plant Nutrition and had a distinguished academic career.

    Physical Details

    Identifying Artifacts
    Magen David badges.
    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 yellow fabric is hand-sewn to an off-white, plain-weave backing fabric with black thread. The yellow cloth is discolored and there are a few loose threads along the slightly frayed edges.
    overall: Height: 3.500 inches (8.89 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    overall : cloth, ink, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The Star of David badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 by Ernest Bergman.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-16 07:37:33
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