Behind the star
During the Second World War Jewish citizens in the Netherlands were isolated and made subject to discrimination and persecution by the National Socialists and their collaborators. The majority of them did not survive the war. More than 102,000 Jews from the Netherlands were deported and killed during the Holocaust.
Among the most compelling forms of evidence from this period that have been preserved are photographs of the victims. However, we do not always know the identity of the people portrayed in these photographs.
The NIOD project "Behind the Star" focuses on photographs in which people are depicted wearing the yellow star sewn or pinned onto their clothing. From May 1942, the wearing of a yellow fabric star – called the “Jodenster” in the Netherlands – was made compulsory by the German occupiers. This measure made it easy to identify Jewish people and was intended to stigmatize and dehumanize them.
After 1945, numerous photographs from the war years were collected in archives. BeeldbankWO2 (WWII Image Bank) is the largest online photo archive from this period in the Netherlands, and contains more than 200 images that depict people wearing yellow stars. These images reflect a fraction of the lives of those portrayed - in order to reconstruct and understand their life stories, it is essential to identify their names.
In this project we aim to find the names of those portrayed, as well as to identify information that can help us and others tell the stories of their lives.
Please help us to find the names and stories behind the stars
We invite everyone to share with us as much information as possible about the persons depicted in these photographs. We are looking for names, as well as other information about those depicted in the photographs, such as dates and location. All information is welcome, even if it is not possible to gather all the data at once.
How to Help
On the following page you will find photos from BeeldbankWO2 that depict people with a Jewish star who have not yet (or who have not fully) been identified. You can scroll down to get an overview of all available photos. When you click on a photo, you will see a new page with the currently available information on the left. This information is often incomplete. For any photo that interests you for any reason (e.g., because you know the family, because you are familiar with local war history, or for other reasons) you can add information.
If you wish, you can select images from particular places or regions. To do so, click on the heading “Locatie” above the photos. You will then see an overview of geographical locations on which you can click. The photos shown there can also be clicked to get to the description. Please read it carefully.
Do you have additional information or would you like to leave a comment?
At the top left of your screen you will see, under the i of information, the symbol of a speech bubble. When you click on this symbol, a form for reactions opens. Here you can write down the names of one or more people portrayed.
Other information, such as the location and date of the photograph, is also welcome. Please do not forget to fill in your name and e-mail address. Then press the “Reactie opslaan” button to save the information. And please let us know if you have a personal connection to the person or people in the photograph, or the source for the information you are sharing.
You can enter information about more than one photograph. The information should always be entered separately for each picture. Your assistance is highly appreciated!
This information will be shared publicly after verification - as far as privacy regulations allow - in order to inform researchers and other interested individuals and to enable the interpretation and contextualization of these photographs in the most accurate way possible.
Would you like to know more about this project and its initiators? You can find it on this web page.
Are you looking for more information about Jewish people from the Netherlands who may be portrayed in the photos collected here? Then it is good to know that other online archives may offer additional information. Therefore, please take a look here:
Joods Historisch Museum
For more information about the project and to read about some of the lives and stories we have begun to research, please visit our website.
Do you have any historical photos of your own that you would like to donate to the NIOD? Then please visit: