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Star of David badge with the word Jude given to a US soldier/liberator by a camp inmate

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Star of David badge given to 24 year old John Hein, a US soldier, 1st Infantry Division, on May 7 or May 9, 1945, by a Jewish female inmate of Zwodau slave labor camp which was liberated by Hein's unit. Hein, an interpreter, was approached by a young woman who asked him if he was Jewish. When he said yes, she showed him her belt buckle with a Mogen David which she had kept hidden while in the camps. Three of her friends joined them, and they "could not believe that there was a Jew, alive and healthy, standing before them." When John showed them a picture of his family, they were "incredulous, before the miracle of an entire Jewish family, still together and well." They told him that there were only twelve Jews in the camp, part of a transport sent from Auschwitz a few months earlier. They had all lost thier entire families in the camp furnaces. Zwodau, subcamp of Flossenburg concentration camp in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, had been a drop point for female prisoners evacuated via death marches as the Allies advanced. There was little food or water and a typhus epidemic and several inmates died daily. In late April, the guards drove the prisoners away so they could destroy evidence of the camp. The inmates were forced to turn back and few traces of the camp were left. Nearly 1000 starving women were there when American troops of the 1st Infantry and 9th Armored Division arrived May 7. They also liberated nearby Falkenau slave labor camp. The war ended with Germany's surrender the same day. Hein and his family had fled Germany in 1936, reaching the US in April 1939. Hein landed with the First Infantry on D-Day, June 4, 1944, when they led the assault on Normandy Beach, and fought through to the war's end when they were stationed in Eger, Czechoslovakia.

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  • Title: Star of David badge with the word Jude given to a US soldier/liberator by a camp inmate
  • Provenance: The badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988 by John Hein.
  • Subject Keywords: German American soldiers--United States--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Czech Republic. Jewish soldiers--United States--Biography. Soldiers--United States--Biography. Translators--United States--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation--Czech Republic--Svatava--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, German American.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Yellow cloth badge in the shape of a 6 pointed Star of David. The star outline is formed from 2 overlapping, dyed triangles and has German text in the center.

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