• Issue: May 1973
  • Designer: A. Games
  • Plate no.: 392
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

The destruction of European Jewry was planned by the Nazi regime as one of the planks of that Party's ideological platform. The origins of the Nazis' hatred of the Jews can be traced back to Germany's defeat in World War I and in the resulting loss of prestige and national pride which were an integral part of the character of the German people. The Germans claimed that they did not lose the war, but had been stabbed in the back "at the instigation of World Jewry, who were out to rule the world." "World Jewry is to blame for it all," was the slogan with which the Nazis set out to destroy Europe, and as part of their aim of inciting the German people against the Jews, they laid the blame for each and every disaster on the shoulders of their Jewish citizens.

The organized persecution of the Jews was enacted in three stages:
1) Their banishment from the economic life of the country;
2) Their banishment from the country's cultural life;
3) The denial of their civil rights.

The first German concentration camp - the forerunner of numerous others - was set up in 1933. Jews were persecuted and humiliated - many were arrested, beaten up, and sent to the concentration camp. This led to a large-scale Jewish emigration in the years 1933-1939 during which period the Nazis pursued a policy of applying pressure on Jews to emigrate and forcing them to leave the greater part of their possessions behind. Jews wishing to emigrate were forced to pay a heavy "escape levy" which was out of all proportion to the taxes levied on other German citizens voluntarily leaving the Third Reich. As from 1935, when the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws were enacted, Jews no longer enjoyed civil rights and were given the legal status of second-class citizens. The economic decrees became ever harsher and many were forced to hand over the source of their livelihood to pure "Aryans." In November 1938, the Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris was assassinated by a Jewish refugee - Herschel Grynszpan - and the Nazis seized upon this as an excuse for burning down synagogues, murdering hundreds of Jews, and sending more than 20,000 Jewish males to the concentration camps. This deliberate act was compounded by the levying of a fine of 1,000 million marks on the German Jewish community and the closing down of all Jewish businesses. Overnight, the Jews of Germany and Austria were deprived of their livelihoods. Jews fled the country empty-handed and their abandoned property was confiscated by the government.

On September l, 1939, the Germans entered Poland and immediately imposed restrictions on the Jewish population there. Every Jew between the ages of 14 and 60 was conscripted for forced labor; many were tortured and beaten up, never to be seen again. Wherever the conquering German armies went, they incited the local population against the Jews and sent out special Task Forces to organize the persecution and eventual liquidation of the whole of European Jewry.

The Germans' next step was to confiscate Jewish property in the conquered territories and to transfer it to Germany - the rarest and most valuable items were reserved for Adolf Hitler and his entourage.

In 1941 Hitler began planning the systematic destruction of European Jewry and the Reich Ministry of Defense was made responsible for putting the plan into effect. In July of that year, Herman Goering sent Reinhard Heydrich a letter making him responsible for carrying out Hitler's decision and Heydrich summoned the Reich ministers to the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, on January 20, 1942, at which the implementation of the plan was discussed. The first step was to compel all Jews in the conquered territories to wear an identifying mark; they were also made to mark their houses: in this way the Nazis simplified their task of herding the Jews together and then evicting then en masse. In most of the conquered territories there was no lack of informers ready to help the Germans by handing the Jews over to the Gestapo, and it was then but a short step to herding them all together in ghettoes and sending them away to their destruction.

In order to thoroughly camouflage their plans, the Germans employed a special terminology which was understood only by those directly concerned with the operation.

In several countries the non-Jewish population showed their active hostility by demonstrating against the deportations. In this connection, the Dutch people deserve special mention. It was the Dutch stevedores who gave an example to the rest of the world when they came out on strike in 1942 against the deportation of the Jews, and the Dutch people defiantly wore the Magen David (Star of David) as a sign of solidarity with their persecuted Jews.

When the Jews realized that the Germans intended their liquidation, they decided to oppose the deportations from the ghettoes. They revealed superhuman bravery in their revolts in the ghettos and camps. Without the slightest hope of victory, the young men of the ghettoes took to the streets against the well-armed enemy, with one purpose in mind - to die, that Israel may live - and to prove to an indifferent world that Jews would not go like lambs to the slaughter.

On Passover Eve, 1943, the great Warsaw Ghetto revolt broke out. The Jewish movements in Poland organized themselves to fight the enemy: They made contact with the Partisans and the Polish underground who supplied them with the weapons and ammunition without which they could not have organized the revolt. Only a handful of survivors remained to tell the tale of the battle of "the pure and righteous against the unclean and the evil."

Just as the Jews remember all those who lent a hand to the slaughter of their people, so they remember those "righteous gentiles" who did all in their power to save Jews from the clutches of the Nazis. The tab of this stamp reads: "These I remember... " (Psalms 42:5).

The State of Israel has designated two official days of national remembrance for the Holocaust and the Resistance - the 27th of Nissan, the day on which the Jews of Israel unite in remembering the Holocaust and the bravery of the Jewish Resistance, and the 10th of Tevet, which the Chief Rabbinate designated as a Day of Remembrance for all those whose date of death is unknown.

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