Why Jews were asked to wear yellow badges?

75 years ago, the Nazis forced Jews in Germany to wear a yellow badge, which meant they were excluded from society. The identification symbol was a precursor to the Holocaust.

Nazi rules and regulations

The Star of David did not originally denote stigmatization, nor was the six-pointed star an exclusively Jewish symbol in the past. Nonetheless, the star has been associated with the Holocaust since the Nazi era in Germany.

The yellow badge was a symbol that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust so that they could be identified as Jews. The Germans used the Jewish badge, often in the form of a yellow Star of David, to harass and isolate the Jews. The badge also facilitated deportation.

Jews standing in row with David stars on coats

On September 1, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich decreed that all Jews in the Reich six years of age or older were to wear a badge which consisted of a yellow Star of David on a black field to be worn on the chest.

Reinhard Heydrich

The identification measure was only a precursor to what the Nazis called the "final solution" of the Jewish question, meaning extermination. Apart from wearing a badge, Jews were not allowed to leave their residential district without police permission.

Origin of Yellow Star

This separate identification mark for Jews was not a new thing introduced by Germans to humiliate Jews. Identification marks have been a part of history since ages.

Muslim rulers in the 8th C CE were the first to introduce the badge to identify Jews and Christians within the Muslim population.

In 1005, Jews in Egypt were ordered to wear bells on their clothes.

These marks were meant to identify Jews and Christians publicly branding them as socially inferior to Muslims.

Yellow Star in Medieval Times

Not only in ancient times but during medieval ages too had traces of these identification marks for Jews where separate rules and regulations were set by kings to identify Jews from Christians.

On November 11, 1215, in Rome, decreed that Jews and Muslims were to wear identifying markers or clothing at all times that made them readily distinguishable from Christians.

In 1275, King Edward I specified the colour of the badge and its size. Jews over the age of seven were required to wear a piece of yellow taffeta, six fingers long and three broads, over the left chest of the outer garment.

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.


During the Nazi era, German authorities reintroduced the Jewish badge as a key element in their plan to persecute and eventually to destroy the Jewish population of Europe.

Thus, The Star of David did not originally denote stigmatization, nor was the six-pointed star an exclusively Jewish symbol in the past.

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