5 October 1938: German Jews have their passports marked with the letter ‘J’

On 5 October 1938, after a meeting between Heinrich Rothmund, the Head of the Swiss Police, and Nazi leaders in Berlin, it was agreed that all German Jewish citizens should have their passports stamped with an identifying letter ‘J’.

Identity card issued displaying the imposed middle name of 'Sara' and stamped with the letter J for 'Jude' (Jew) © USHMM

The marking of their passports alienated the Jewish community and constituted an important part of the campaign of persecution. It led to Kristallnacht, a state-sponsored campaign of violence against the German Jewish population just one month later, and ended in the systematic murder of six million Jewish men, women and children.

Classification and Symbolisation are the two initial steps on the path to genocide.

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