Behind the Star

Starting in May 1942, wearing a yellow fabric star in the Netherlands, called the “Star of David,” was made compulsory by the Nazis. This measure made it easy to identify Jewish people and was designed to stigmatize and dehumanize them. This was not a new idea; since medieval times many other societies had forced their Jewish citizens to wear badges to identify themselves. With the coming of the French Revolution in the 18th century and Jewish emancipation in the 19th century, the “Jewish badge” disappeared in Western Europe.

However, in the 1930s the Nazis brought it back to Germany, and in May 1942 in the Netherlands. During the war, it was compulsory in all occupied countries. The one thing that puzzles me today is the eagerness of so many people and groups to put ‘badges’ on themselves. In my opinion, the only badge that matters is that of a Human Being, and the only rule that should apply is mutual respect for each other.

Behind every star was a life, a story.

The picture at the start of this post is of the admin team in Westerbork.

Group photo of the De Miranda and Lachmann families in the garden of De Miranda’s house on Sterrelaan in Hilversum, 1942.

From left to right: Alexander (Lex) de Miranda, 7-year-old Michael (Max) Lachmann, Heinz (Hans) Lachmann, standing 12-year-old Frank de Miranda, Anny de Miranda-Meijler and Tea Lachmann-Warszawski on the beach chair. The photo was probably taken by the other son Hugo de Miranda. Both sons tried to flee to Switzerland via France but were arrested. None of the family survived the war. The Lachmann family went into hiding in Limburg with the help of Pastor Henri Vullinghs and survived the war. Henri Vullinghs was a pastor in Grashoek and Grubbenvorst in Limburg and a Dutch resistance fighter during World War II. He was one of the largest organizers of pilot aid and hiding in the entire province of Limburg.

On 1 May 1944 sexton Stappers in Grubbenvorst was warned that the Sicherheitspolizei was on its way from Venlo to arrest the pastor. Stappers hurried to the monastery where Vullinghs lived because his own parsonage had been hit by a bomb. Unfortunately, he did not find him at home because the pastor had already left for the church on his bicycle. Just before the church on the street, Vullinghs was arrested and imprisoned. On 1 June 1944, he was transferred to Camp Vught where he was severely mistreated. On September 6, 1944, he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and from there he went to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where he arrived at the end of March 1945, critically ill. Two weeks later he died there of dysentery.

Camp Westerbork. Outgoing transport, with a converted freight train, April 1943.
Nearly 107,000 people were deported from camp Westerbork in the 97 transports. On 15 July 1942, the first transport left for Auschwitz-Birkenau. From 2 March 1943–16 November 1943, there was a weekly rhythm: every Tuesday a train departed with a thousand to sometimes more than three thousand people. The last transport left on 13 September 1944.

Sander Waterman in boxing position. The Star of David is visible on his shorts. He was born in London on 10 June 1914, He was a boxer and boxed at Joop Cosman’s boxing school at the Jodenhouttuinen.

Because of his birth, he had a British passport despite his parents being Dutch. Sander was in the resistance. He was arrested for forging identity cards, but his brother Morest had done so. If he had said that, they would both have been imprisoned, so he kept quiet about it. Unfortunately, his brother Morest was murdered in Mauthausen.
Sander survived the war just like his wife Elisabeth Gobetz and their two children Sal (1941) and Joop (1943). The Waterman family was deported to Westerbork in 1943, where Joop was born, and then to Bergen-Belsen.

The British passport initially ensured that the family could stay for a longer period of time in Westerbork.

Johanna Winnik, at the age of about eight at her house on the Afrikanerplein in Amsterdam’s Transvaal neighbourhood, 1942. She was murdered at Sobibor on 2 April 1943 at the age of 8 years.

Annie de Jong-Wijnman and Maurits (Mau) de Jong from Zaltbommel with the Star of David on their wedding day, Sunday, August 23, 1942, in the synagogue N. Molstraat 13 in The Hague. They didn’t even get to celebrate their first anniversary. They were both killed on 16 July 1943 in Sobibor.

These were just a few of the many who were forced to wear the star of David. The pictures all came from the NIOD. They also have a theme on their website titled behind the star, I added a few more details.


Behind the Star

You gave them a star to single them out. It made it easier for others to recognize them. You even put the word Jood, Jude, or Juif on the star. As if others didn’t know who they were. They were neighbours, friends, and colleagues. People knew, but they could or would not defend those wearing the star because of fear, jealousy or cowardice.

With that star, you tried to rob them of their dignity and you failed. You tried to wipe them all out, and although you nearly did, eventually you failed.

You failed because behind that star were human beings, just like anyone else. You forgot that human beings always try to survive.

Behind the star were doctors, artists, scientists, bankers, nurses, housewives, bakers, butchers, plumbers, tradesmen, women, and soldiers. In short, a whole society. If you had succeeded, you would have eventually had to pay a very high price for exterminating crucial elements of the citizenry. A price you would have never been able to afford.

Behind that star were noble people whose dignity you could never take away.

You failed, and your policies failed. Although sometimes it may look like it, however, in reality, hate never wins.

Just a Man on a Bike

When you look at the picture, your first reaction is probably think it’s an ordinary historical picture from somewhere in the Netherlands.

The picture couldn’t be more typically Dutch if for one detail—the photograph was taken in Amsterdam during the war, and the man is wearing a star on his jacket.

As in all occupied countries the Star of David was introduced to the Netherlands. The star had to be clearly visible, as with this Jewish Man from Amsterdam who cycled on Leidseplein in May 1942.

It is a typical Dutch picture because the man was Dutch, who just happened to be Jewish, but in the Netherlands that shouldn’t matter. No one cares about your religion and what does matter is how you conduct yourself in society.

Yet, between 1940 and 1945, religion suddenly did matter. The Jews were singled-out and 75% of them were murdered. The Dutch Jews had always been a sizeable minority, majority living in Amsterdam. They lived in the most densely populated country in Europe with an advanced social administration—which was left intact after the swift and decisive Nazi invasion of 1940 and helped the Nazis grately in identifying the Dutch Jews. Only an estimated 35,000 of the initial 140,000 Jews who lived the Netherlands survived the Holocaust. More then likely the man on the bike was also murdered.

To me that picture is more disturbing than the pictures from the concentration camp. The picture tells me that he really was not different from anyone else in that crowd of cyclists, except for that one patch on his coat. He was just a man on a bike going about his business, not causing any harm to anyone, Conducting himself properly in society and yet, he was singled-out. It could have been anyone.


So many words can be read and written about the Holocaust, but it is often the images that stick in ones mind. They say a picture paints a thousand words. In this blog there will only be pictures, and although all of them are horrific. none are graphic. There will be no description with the pictures because I believe they all speak for themselves.


Behind the Star

The NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies is a national and international centre of expertise for interdisciplinary research into the history of world wars, mass violence, and genocides, including their long-term social consequences. In addition, NIOD collects, preserves, and provides access to archives and collections. It is based in the Netherlands.

Recently they have started a collection titled “Behind the Star” it is a series of photographs of Dutch Jews wearing the Yellow star during World War 2.

Below are just some pf those images , but first a bit of history about that Star.

On April 29, 1942, the Nazis announced another humiliation for the Dutch Jews . From May 3, they had to wear a recognition batch : a six-pointed yellow Star of David with the word ‘Jew’ in the middle. The star made people recognizable as Jews on the street. The German occupier wanted to further isolate Jews from the non-Jewish Dutch. Failure to wear the star would be severely punished. You could be sent to a concentration camp for it.

The picture at the top of the blog:Photo from 1942 of nurses at the Jewish psychiatric institution Het Apeldoornsche Bosch. From left to right:
(above) Rita van Stratum, Veronica Davids-Delaville/Rita Schijveschuurder, Nico Speijer, Rita Schijveschuurder/Veronica Davids-Delaville, Jeanette Zeckendorf; (below) Ruth Pestachowsky, Jetty van Geens, Jansje Klein, Josephine Koen.

Jewish Council. The provincial representatives of the Jewish Council. In October 1941, the Jewish Council for Amsterdam was given national powers. Local branches of the Jewish Council were established in the larger Jewish communities in the province. From left to right: J. Brandon (former municipal official in Amsterdam), chairman prof.dr. D. Cohen, Dr. L. Weyl (Middelburg), unknown, R.H. Eitje (Department of assistance to non-Dutch Jews), S.H. Aptroot (Groningen), M.B.B. Nijkerk, mr. A. de Haas (Utrecht), G. Sanders (Enschede), de Winter, prof.dr. J. Brahn (Beirat for German Jews), General Advisor Meijer De Vries (former senior official at the Ministry of Social Affairs). Standing: unknown.

In the summer of 1943, a Jewish transport departed to Westerbork from the shunting yard in the Eastern Docklands (Panamakade) in East Amsterdam.
Employees of the Jewish Council (with armbands) receive instructions from a German officer.

The building in the background is Loods III.

On the far right is a guard of the Sybren Tulp Company of the Amsterdam Police Battalion (PBA). He is a member of the Germanic SS (emblem visible on the tunic, just above the sleeve band).

Jewish man with two horses in labor camp ‘de Landweer’ in Elsloo, 1942.

Jewish children are taught handicrafts in the Jan van Eyckstraat. page.
The Out-of-School Youth Care (BJZ) was one of the dozens of departments of the Jewish Council. For Jewish children, the BJZ was a welcome distraction from the worries of everyday life. The BJZ tried to create a relaxed atmosphere in the few available and hardly usable premises. Jewish youth leaders kept the children occupied with activities such as crafts, music, folk dancing, and Jewish history. There was also a lot of sports. This met a clear need because Jewish children were not allowed to be members of sports and other recreational associations.

This photo comes from a small photo album with a total of 36 photos. The photographer, who has remained anonymous, prefaces his work with a handwritten introduction: ‘Flashes from the work of the Out-of-School Youth Care. This album doesn’t want to show more – it can’t show more – because only flashes are possible of the ever-changing aspects that the care for young people shows outside school hours.’
Caption: ‘Stretched – yet relaxed!’
Period of time
March 1943


A yellow star


I wear a Yellow star so that people know who I am.

Why? Didn’t they know me before?

The kids in my neighborhood don’t have to wear a Yellow star.

Am I different?

And if so, how am I different?

I breathe the same air, I read the same books, I play with the same toys.

I even look the same.

My mother says it’s because I am Jewish and we are no longer considered human.

I am wearing a Yellow star

The star of David

David, who my friends also know because they have heard of him in  their Sunday school.

They love his story because he was a great King and warlord

Why then ,do they look to this Yellow star of David as if it is a badge of shame.

I am Hanna Lehrer I was born in Munich,Germany but was killed in Riga,Latvia.



The Yellow Star of David fabric


Two years after the invasion of the Netherlands all Jews age six and older were required to wear a so-called yellow star visible on the left side of their clothing. It was yet another measure to isolate and exclude Jews from Dutch society. The word Jood  (Jew) appears in the middle of this six-pointed star, which has the same form as the Jewish Star of David.


These stars were printed on inexpensive yellow cotton in De Nijverheid, a textile factory in the Dutch city of Enschede that had previously belonged to a Jewish family.


The company had been confiscated from them shortly before and placed under German supervision. The around 100,000 yellow stars needed in the Netherlands were probably printed on this one 10,000 metre roll of material.


Production most likely took no more than a day. This made the sale of these stars for 4 cents each a rather lucrative business. In addition to the purchase price Jews had to turn in a textile ration coupon.


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