Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Yellow Badge on Postage Stamps

The yellow badge is the name of the most known badge among the identifying badges that the Nazis enforced in legislation on the Jews. This badge was made from yellow cloth cut in the form of a triangle or in the form of a Star of David. In its center was added at times in black color the word Jew in the local European language such as in German or in French. The yellow badge serves nowadays mainly as symbol of the holocaust of European Jews, and as a central image of the Jews as victims. It evokes in us powerfully traumatic feelings of fear, anger and identification on the one hand, and of awe and holiness on the other hand.

Since WWII there were few stamps that “mentioned” the yellow badge:
East Germany issued in 1963 a stamp that marks 25 years since Kristallnacht, Night of the Broken Glass, in which the Nazis burned Jewish synagogues all over Germany and Austria. A chained yellow badge with the German caption “Jude” appears on this stamp on the background of a burning synagogue. Germans mark Holocaust Remembrance Day annually on the 27th of January; the day the Russian army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 2005 UN adopted the same date as a world Holocaust Remembrance Day.
            Israel issued in 1965 a stamp that marks 20 years since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Holocaust survivor Yaacov Zim designed this stamp. The Hebrew word “remember” appears under a yellow badge. In Hebrew this word arouses the association of the Biblical verse from Deuteronomy 25:17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt”. Amalek represents the Nazis and the verse calls not only for remembrance but also for vengeance.
Sweden issued in 1987 a booklet pane and one of its stamps was dedicated to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1912 –1947?). A yellow badge appears on the chest of one of the thousands of Jews that he rescued from the Holocaust.
West Germany issued in 1988 a stamp to mark the 50 years since Kristallnacht. This stamp shows a burning synagogue along with a white Star of David that alludes to the yellow badge.
Canada issued in 1995 a stamp in memorial of the Jewish Holocaust with a large yellow badge in front of images of Jewish-concentration-camp-prisoners in their black striped uniform.
Belgium issued at the end of 1995 a stamp in memorial of Yvonne Feyerick Nevejean (1900-1987) who helped hide Jewish children in Belgium during World War II. Behind the portrait of Yvonne Feyerick Nevejean we see children standing in front of a yellow badge.
USA issued in  1997 a stamp in memorial of Raoul Wallenberg, which is very similar to the above mentioned Swedish stamp: a yellow badge appears on the chest of one of the thousands of Jews that he rescued from the Nazis.
Russia issued in 2000 a stamp marking 55 years since the Holocaust. There’s a yellow Star of David (alluding to the yellow badge) on a wall, which carries the word “Holocaust”. Behind the wall we see a huge flame, and above it, in the sky, two birds of freedom.
Israel issued in 2003 a Holocaust and Revival stamp designed by Gideon Sagi. The yellow badge is peeling, and behind it we discover the blue Star of David of the Israeli flag. The message is that the blue Star of David was based on, or even born from, the yellow badge. The Stamp is dedicated to the revival of half a million Holocaust survivors in Israel. On the tab we see the words Ezekiel 16:6: “in thy blood live”. These powerful words mean that Israel (represented by the blue Star of David) came to being due to the blood of the Holocaust victims (represented by the yellow badge). The words “blood” (death) and “living” are opposites. The Star of David, which is the shape of the yellow badge, is a symbol of the unison of all possible opposites.
Israel issued in 2003 a stamp marking Yad Vashem's Jubilee Year. It shows a  yellow badge on the chest of a Teddy Bear alluding to the children murdered by the Nazis during the   Holocaust period.
Israel issued in 2003 a stamp [Designed by Meir Eshel] with the names of force laborers from a factory in Poland who were shot or transported to Death Camps. On the stamp we see railroads (used for transporting Jews to Death Camps) transform into the blue stripes of the Israeli flag, while the yellow badge at the bottom ascends and becomes the blue Star of David on the Israeli flag.

We should remember that stamps are not subjective whims, they are states’ statements aimed at reflecting some public concerns. Judging by this small sample of Yellow Badges on Postage Stamps we may notice, unsurprisingly, that the remembrance of the Holocaust troubles the Israeli government in the first place and the German government in the second place. 

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