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"Whoever wears this sign is an enemy of our people" – Parole der Woche, 1 July 1942 showing a yellow badge used by the Nazis to identify Jews
Synagogue in German-occupied Bydgoszcz, Poland, September 1939. The inscription in German reads: "This city is free of Jews!"
German map showing the number of Jewish executions carried out by Einsatzgruppe A in: Estonia (declared judenfrei), Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia
Advertisement for a café in Tübingen, describing itself as judenfrei

Judenfrei (German: [ˈjuːdn̩ˌfʁaɪ], "free of Jews") and judenrein (German: [ˈjuːdn̩ˌʁaɪn], "clean of Jews") are terms of Nazi origin to designate an area that has been "cleansed" of Jews during The Holocaust.[1] While judenfrei refers merely to "freeing" an area of all of its Jewish inhabitants, the term judenrein (literally "clean of Jews") has the even stronger connotation that any trace of Jewish blood had been removed as an alleged impurity in the minds of the criminal perpetrators.[2] These terms of racial discrimination and racial abuse are intrinsic to Nazi anti-Semitism and were used by the Nazis in Germany before World War II and in occupied countries such as Poland in 1939. Judenfrei describes the local Jewish population having been removed from a town, region, or country by forced evacuation during the Holocaust, though many Jews were hidden by local people. Removal methods included forced re-housing in Nazi ghettos especially in eastern Europe, and forced removal or Resettlement to the East by German troops, often to their deaths. Most Jews were identified from late 1941 by the yellow badge as a result of pressure from Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler.

Following the defeat of Germany in 1945, some attempts have been made to attract Jewish people back to Germany, as well as reconstruct synagogues destroyed during and after Kristallnacht. The terms judenrein and judenfrei have since been used in the persecution of global Jewish communities or the nation of Israel.

Locations declared judenfrei[edit]

Establishments, villages, cities, and regions were declared judenfrei or judenrein after they were apparently cleared of Jews. However, some Jewish people survived by being hidden and sheltered by friendly neighbours. In Berlin, they were known as "submariners" since they seemed to have disappeared (under the waves). Many survived the end of the war, hence becoming Holocaust survivors.

Modern usage[edit]

Israeli–Palestinian conflict[edit]

In the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a fear among many Israelis which has been reflected by Israeli government officials such as Benjamin Netanyahu is that the proposed removal of Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank according to the wishes of Palestinian officials is tantamount to rendering these areas judenrein, or clean of Jews.

On July 9, 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a discussion with the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is reported to have said, using the Israeli term for the area, "Judea and Samaria cannot be judenrein, commenting on the Palestinian demand to remove the Israeli settlements in the West Bank."[22][23]

Islamic world[edit]

The depopulation of the Jewish communities from Arab and Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa was described as the result of an effort to make these countries judenrein or judenfrei. Dr. Peter Schotten wrote on the matter, saying "Arab states responded ruthlessly to the lost war and to the newly displaced Arab refugees by undertaking systematic and bold oppressive measures against their Jewish citizens. Their citizenship was stripped, arrests and detentions took place, religious restrictions were imposed, freedom of movement was curtailed, assets were frozen and property seized, employment opportunities were closed off and Zionism was criminalized."[24] Lyn Julius wrote in the Jewish Journal, "Only three years after the end of World War II, the members of the Arab League were bent on emulating the Nazis. They set about making the Arab Middle East judenrein (free of Jews). They applied Nuremberg-style laws, criminalizing Zionism, freezing Jewish bank accounts, instituting quotas, imposing restrictions on jobs and movement. The result was the mass exodus and spoliation of a million Jews."[25]

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Oman, Libya, Sudan, and Malaysia[26] are believed to have no remaining Jewish population. [citation needed]

Afghanistan is believed to have no Jewish population left, after the last two known remaining Jews, Zablon Simintov and his cousin Tova Moradi left in September and October 2021.[27] Before the 2021 Taliban resurgence, Zablon maintained and cared for Afghanistan's only synagogue in the capital of Kabul.[28]

Asmara, Eritrea, is believed to have a single native Jewish resident left: Sami Cohen, who runs an import-export business and attends to the Asmara Synagogue.[29][30]

On July 13, 2020, it was reported that the last Jews in Yemen are captives of the Houthi militia of the Kharif District.[31] In March 2021, The Jerusalem Post reported that the remaining Jewish population in Yemen consists of four people.[32] In March 2022 the UN reports there is just 1 Jew left in Yemen[33]

In Egypt, it is estimated the country has 3 known Jews remaining as of 2021.[34]

In Iraq, it is estimated the country has 3-4 known Jews remaining as of 2021[33]

Turkey (15,000 in 2021),[35] Iran (8,500 in 2021), Morocco (2,100 in 2021), Tunisia (1,000 in 2021), Armenia (300-500), Algeria (200 in 2021),[36] Ethiopia (100 in 2021),[37] and Lebanon (29 in 2021) have also seen huge declines in Jewish population. Officially, there are no Jews in Kurdistan;[38][39] however, the sending of Hanukkah kits to Jews to Arab countries and regions, including Kurdistan,[40] indicate there may be Jewish remnants there.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scheffler, Wolfgang (2007). "Judenrein". Encyclopaedia Judaica (2 ed.). Thomson Gale.
  2. ^ "Aryanization: Judenrein & Judenfrei". shoaheducation.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "'Gelnhausen endlich judenfrei': Zur Geschichte der Juden während der Nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung" ['Gelnhausen finally free of Jews': On the History of the Jews during the Nazi persecution] (PDF) (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2007.
  4. ^ Blumenkranz, Bernhard; Catane, Moshe (2007). "Alsace". Encyclopaedia Judaica (2 ed.). Thomson Gale.
  5. ^ Drndić, Daša (2009). April u Berlinu. Fraktura. p. 24. ISBN 978-953-266-095-1. Njemački list Völkische Beobachter objavio je 19. kolovoza 1941. da je Banat konačno Juden frei.
  6. ^ Muth, Thorsten (2009). Das Judentum: Geschichte und Kultur. Pressel. p. 452. ISBN 978-3-937950-28-0. Am 20. August konnte die deutsche Führung das Banat für Judenfrei" erklären.
  7. ^ "Commémoration de la Shoah au Luxembourg" [Commemoration of the Shoah in Luxembourg] (in French). Government of Luxembourg. July 3, 2005. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
  8. ^ "Extract from Report by Einsatzgruppe A". Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Partial Translation of Document 2273-PS Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. IV. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp. 944–949
  9. ^ "Estonian Jews". Simon Wiesenthal Center. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. sourced to Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. 1990.
  10. ^ Subotić, Jelena (2019). Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-50174-241-5.
  11. ^ Bulajić, Milan (2002). Jasenovac: the Jewish Serbian holocaust (the role of the Vatican) in Nazi-Ustasha Croatia (1941-1945). Fund for Genocide Research. p. 222. ISBN 9788641902211.
  12. ^ a b Subotić, Jelena (2019). Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9781501742415.
  13. ^ Jewish History of Yugoslavia, porges.net; accessed 5 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Povijest Židova Jugoslavije" (in French). Porges.net. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Lituchy, Barry M. (2006). Jasenovac and the Holocaust in Yugoslavia: analyses and survivor testimonies. Jasenovac Research Institute. pp. xxxiii. ISBN 978-0-97534-320-3.
  16. ^ Manoschek, Walter (1995). "Serbien ist judenfrei": militärische Besatzungspolitik und Judenvernichtung in Serbien 1941/42. Walter de Gruyter. p. 184. ISBN 9783486561371.
  17. ^ Lebel, G'eni (2007). Until "the Final Solution": The Jews in Belgrade 1521 - 1942. Avotaynu. p. 329. ISBN 9781886223332.
  18. ^ Herbert, Ulrich; Schildt, Axel (1998). Kriegsende in Europa. Klartext. p. 149. ISBN 9783884745113.
  19. ^ John K. Cox; (2002) The History of Serbia p. 92-93; Greenwood, ISBN 0313312907
  20. ^ Prusin, Alexander (2017). Serbia Under the Swastika: A World War II Occupation. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-09961-8.
  21. ^ "Was war am 19. Mai 1943" [What was on May 19, 1943] (in German). chroniknet.
  22. ^ "German FM: Settlements Remain Obstacle to Peace; Frank-Walter Steinmeier says is encouraged by Israel's acceptance of a two-state solution". Haaretz. Reuters and DPA. July 9, 2009.
  23. ^ Williams, Dan (July 9, 2009). "Judenrein! Israel adopts Nazi term to back settlers". Reuters.
  24. ^ "The Great Escape: How and Why Most Arab States Became Judenfrei - jewishideas.org". www.jewishideas.org.
  25. ^ Julius, Lyn (February 8, 2018). "Arab anti-Semitism, and the Nazis". Jewish Journal.
  26. ^ David, Jono (2007). "MALAYSIA, Penang. Modi Mordecai; the last permanent Jewish resident of Penang (passed away on July 15, 2011, aged 89). (2007)". HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  27. ^ Zion, Ilan Ben; Semini, Llazar (November 29, 2021). "The last, last Jew? Simentov relative flees Afghanistan after Taliban takeover". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  28. ^ "The last Jew in Afghanistan - World Blog - msnbc.com". June 16, 2008. Archived from the original on June 16, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  29. ^ "Asmara's last Jew recalls 'good old days'". BBC News. April 30, 2006. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  30. ^ "Eritrea's last native Jew tends graves, remembers". Ynetnews. Reuters. May 2, 2006. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  31. ^ "Report: Houthis Arrest Yemen's Last Remaining Jews In A Bid To Ethnically Cleanse The Country". Baltimore Jewish Life. July 13, 2020. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  32. ^ Joffre, Tzvi (March 29, 2021). "Almost all remaining Jews in Yemen deported - Saudi media". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  33. ^ a b Jewish Chronicle March 14,2021
  34. ^ "BDE: One Of The Last Jews In Egypt Passes Away". The Yeshiva World. November 17, 2021. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  35. ^ "Jewish Population by Country 2023". worldpopulationreview.com.
  36. ^ "Jews of Algeria". Jewish Virtual Library.
  37. ^ "jewish-population-of-the-world". Jewish Virtual Library.
  38. ^ "Dismissal of Jewish representative 'administrative,' unrelated to Baghdad: KRG".
  39. ^ "Publicity seeking Kurdish official brings back memories of Jewish Kurd aliya fiasco". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. December 7, 2015.
  40. ^ "Hundreds of Hanukkah kits sent to Jews living in Arab countries". December 2, 2021.