May 29

This Day in History

World War II

May 29, 1942:

Jews in Paris are forced to sew a yellow star on their coats

On this day in 1942, on the advice of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler orders all Jews in occupied Paris to wear an identifying yellow star on the left side of their coats.

Joseph Goebbels had made the persecution, and ultimately the extermination, of Jews a personal priority from the earliest days of the war, often recording in his diary such statements as: "They are no longer people but beasts," and "[T]he Jews... are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is pretty barbaric and is not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews."

But Goebbels was not the first to suggest this particular form of isolation. "The yellow star may make some Catholics shudder," wrote a French newspaper at the time. "It renews the most strictly Catholic tradition." Intermittently, throughout the history of the papal states, that territory in central Italy controlled by the pope, Jews were often confined to ghettoes and forced to wear either yellow hats or yellow stars.

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