The ‘Jewish badge’ was the distinguishing sign that Jews in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied countries were forced to wear to enable their debasement and identification as Jews. This yellow star with the inscription "Jude" (Jew) printed in the centre, was worn by Hana Novotny (nee Lipa), following the 1 September 1941 order requiring Jews in Czechoslovakia to wear a yellow Star of David badge at all times.
Born in 1926 in Czechoslovakia, Hana’s adolescence was marred by the Nazi invasion in March 1939. She experienced antisemitism, daily deprivations and exclusion from mainstream Czech society, as did all Jews under the German yoke. 1940 was a turbulent year for 14-year-old Hana. She was prohibited from attending school; her mother died of cancer; then she and her father, Jaroslav, were deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp/ghetto on 10 August 1942. Hana was employed in a leather factory making purses and wallets. She made her father a gift, a bookmark, made from the luggage confiscated from ghetto inmates. He never received it as he was murdered in September 1943. Hana was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she was ‘selected’ for forced labour in various labour camps in Upper Silesia. She found the work to be back-breaking. Finally, she was transported to Bergen-Belsen. Conditions in the camp were horrific. She contracted typhoid fever and was ill for months.
After liberation, Hana returned home, desperate for news about the fate of her family. Her moods varied, “up and down”; she vacillated from “hope to despair.” Her greatest fear, facing life alone, was allayed when she married Oldrich Novotny and migrated with him to Sydney in 1948.