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The Yellow Stars

The yellow stars clearly identified Jews on the streets.We had to immediately put stars on every article of clothing we might ever wear outside. Being outside without a yellow star on had become a punishable offence. Mother was busy for days, sewing yellow stars onto our clothes. She made large, loose stitches so they’d be easy to rip off, if necessary. Our survival depended on this ability to anticipate what was coming and prepare alternate plans.

Going outside wearing the star was a horrible experience, especially at first…I tried to establish eye contact with people to convey a plea and also measure their reaction. Reactions were varied: some people looked away; some lowered their eyes as they passed me; some looked straight back with a mocking grin on their faces; others expressed their disapproval of the entire Jewish race. Antisemitic comments always had to do with being dirty, lice-ridden and sub-human, deserving of the worst fate.

The Arrow Cross party members (the Hungarian fascists) could now readily identify Jews and attack their targets more easily. The mindless, vicious attacks that ensued were humiliating and threatening. In retrospect, these attacks were like warm-up exercises for both the victims and the victimizers. I was never slapped or physically abused in the streetcar, the way I had witnessed some older Jews being attacked. No one spat in my face or knocked my hat off. I was and am thankful for these small mercies…

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