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Several Jewish organizations backed this 1938 protest in Los Angeles; one of them might have made this pin

Footlocker: Solving Readers’ Artifact Mysteries

By HistoryNet Staff
8/5/2016 • World War II Magazine

 

I bought this button at a flea market in southwestern Pennsylvania in the early 1970s. It’s smaller than a dime—but that’s all I know about it. Can you help? —Brian Walker, New Market, Maryland

The curators turned to an archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for an answer. Rebecca Erbelding, a specialist in  the American response to the Holocaust, responds:

At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, we have one of these pins in our collection, but it does not have a manufacturer’s mark and we do not know what group produced the pin. It was likely a Jewish organization—not only because of the Star of David, but because it would have been rare for
a general manufacturer to make a pin targeted at a Jewish audience. Some Jewish groups had similar slogans at various points. The Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, for example, had a “Hit Hitler” fund-
raising campaign, selling stamps featuring David throwing rocks at a Goliath Hitler.

The pin may have been made between 1939-1941, when the United States was divided between isolation and intervention. In November 1939, two months after Europe went to war, a Gallup poll reported that 47 percent of Americans surveyed felt the country’s most significant concern was keeping out of war. Two years later, 30 percent of Americans still felt staying out of the war was more important than defeating Nazi Germany. Any number of Jewish groups, recognizing the threat Nazism posed to the United States—and certainly to the Jews of Europe—could have made a “Halt Hitler” pin to wear as a plea for intervention.

After the United States entered the war, the production of anti-Hitler memorabilia increased. No matter who created this pin, it reminds us that the propaganda war against Hitler and the Nazis was also fought at home. In spring 2018 the Holocaust Museum will open an exhibition on American responses to the Holocaust featuring items like this.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2016 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here.

 

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