Armband with a blue cross worn by a Jewish nurse caring for refugee children

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Blue cross armband worn by Menia Awret-Back, who worked as a nurse for Jewish refugee children during World War II in Brussels, Belgium. Once Belgium was occupied by the Germans in May 1940, Jewish nurses had to wear an armband with a blue cross in place of the usual red cross armband. In addition, Jewish children and expectant mothers were not allowed to be treated in existing facilities. The organizations Menia worked for from 1938 through the postwar period, the L'Ouevre Nationale de L'Enfance [National Children's Aid] and the Belgium Red Cross, established and staffed treatment centers for their care. Menia held a Russian passport, thus was at risk of deportation by German authorities. However, the charitable agencies for which she worked successfully requested that she be allowed to remain because of the importance of her work. The Swedish Consulate in Brussels wrote letters stating that she was a holder of a valid Russian passport and that they were placing her under their protection. Menia was later honored by the Belgium government for her service during the war.

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  • Title: Armband with a blue cross worn by a Jewish nurse caring for refugee children
  • Provenance: The blue cross armband was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Serge Back, the son of Menia Arwet-Back.
  • Subject Keywords: Jewish children--Medical care--Belgium. Jewish nurses--Belgium--Biography. Jewish women in the Holocaust--Belgium--Biography. Nurses--Belgium--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Civilian relief--Belgium. World War, 1939-1945--War work--Red Cross.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Rectangular white cloth armband with the ends sewn together to form a loop. A blue cross is printed on one side, and French text is stamped across the top. There is a circular stamp in blue ink with a Nazi insignia of an eagle with outspread wings holdng a swastika in its talons in the lower left corner.


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