Past Exhibit

From the Star of Shame to the Star of Courage

The yellow Star of David was a cloth patch that the Nazis forced Jews to wear on their outer garments which would mark them in public. This discriminatory law was enforced throughout the European countries occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The exhibit traces the imposed use of the yellow badge from medieval times through the 1933-1945 years, concluding with the transformation of the yellow Star, prompted by crude anti-Semitism, to emerge as the blue Star of David on the flag of the State of Israel.

The badge was intended as one more measure to disenfranchise Jews and to reinforce their pariah status. In the course of time, the yellow symbol was also painted on Jewish-owned stores and businesses.

Less known is the fact that the yellow patch was not invented by the Nazis but resuscitated by them from medieval times. A degrading yellow badge was introduced by a 9th century Baghdad caliph and subsequently imposed by other Moslem rulers on their Jewish and Christian populations. The Catholic 1215 Fourth Council of the Lateran also ruled that Jews ought to wear a yellow badge and other discriminatory outer symbols. European rulers intermittently followed this direction until the time of the French Revolution.

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