Homocaust: The gay victims of the Holocaust
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Pink Triangles

o differentiate between the various groups in the camps, the Nazis devised a simple system of easy identification. Besides the individual numbering system of tattooing each prisoner on entry, various cloth symbols and letters were sewn onto uniforms and worn at all times to aid instant recognition.

Letter A:
Initially homosexuals were identified by the letter 'A', which was sewn on to their left breast or trouser leg. The 'A' stood for Arschficker, which is the German word for 'Ass-Fucker'. Later replaced by a triangle system as shown in this chart recovered from the Dachau camp in Germany.

A chart of prisoner markings used in German concentration camps.Credit: USHMM, courtesy of KZ Gedenkstaette DachauThe Nazis soon developed a system of several different coloured triangles: yellow for Jews; red for politicals; green for criminals; purple for Jehovah's Witnesses; black for asocials; brown for gypsies; blue for emigrants and pink for homosexuals. Jewish homosexuals were made to wear both the yellow triangle and the pink triangle, which undoubtably left them 'the lowest of the low'. These identification marks can clearly be seen on the identity photos shown throughout the site. these images were taken on entry to Auschwitz. Each image clearly shows a large pink triangle. Auschwitz identity photo of man held under Paragraph 175- Credit: State Museum of Auschwitz - Birkenau

Blue bar:
In some of the early concentration and 'security camps' a blue bar worn on the breast and sleeve identified homosexual inmates. It also identified catholic and asocial prisoners.

Black dot and number:
Some homosexuals were also identified with a large black dot on the jacket sleeve or left chest area. On the back of the jacket was also marked a large '175', which would have been instantly recognisable by both guards and other inmates.

Pink triangle:
Auschwitz identity photo of man held under Paragraph 175- Credit: State Museum of Auschwitz - BirkenauThe pink triangle, or Rosa Winkel, was the most associated symbol for men held under § 175. Inmates were made to wear a large piece of pink cloth on the breast side of their clothes (as shown in the identity picture below) and a larger one across their backs. The pink triangle was made 2cm larger than any of the other identification triangle so that guards and other prisoners could clearly see when a homosexual prisoner was approaching.

Auschwitz identity photo of man held under Paragraph 175- Credit: State Museum of Auschwitz - BirkenauThe gay liberation movement of the 1970's chose the pink triangle as the popular symbol for gay rights, identity and pride. Worn as a simple badge, the symbol is both easily recognisable and also stands in the face of oppression and persecution. In the 1980's the US lead ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) chose to use the triangle as its sign and inverted it to signify an active fight back against intolerance.

Prisoners with the pink triangle made little contact with other prisoners for fear of further persecution. By associating with the pink triangles, other detainees would have almost certainly drawn unwanted attention on to themselves and the best way of avoiding further abuse was clearly to remain as invisible as possible.

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This site is dedicated to the memory of the many who didn't make it. Never forget ... Never again.©2004 lewis Oswald