- Nazi concentration camp badges
Nazi concentration camp badges, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in Nazi camps. They were used in the concentration camps in the Nazi-occupied countries to identify the reason the prisoners had been placed there. The triangles were made of fabric and were sewn on jackets and trousers of the prisoners. These mandatory badges of shame had specific meanings indicated by their colour and shape.
Badge coding system
The system of badges varied between the camps, and in the later stages of the war, the use of badges dwindled in some camps, and became increasingly accidental in others. The following description is based on the badge coding system used before and during the early stages of the war in the Dachau concentration camp, which had one of the more elaborate coding systems.
Shape was chosen by analogy with the common triangular road hazard signs in Germany that denote warnings to motorists. Here, a triangle is called inverted because its base is up while one of its angles points down.
- Red triangle—political prisoners: communists, trade unionists, royalists, social democrats and socialists, Freemasons, anarchists.
- Green triangle— "professional criminals" (convicts, ofttimes Kapos, serving in exchange for reduced sentences or parole).
- Blue triangle—foreign forced laborers, emigrants.
- Pink triangle—sexual offenders, mostly homosexual men but rarely rapists, zoophiles and paedophiles.
- Purple triangle— Bible Students, a term taken from a name of, and primarily referring to, Jehovah's Witnesses, though a very small number of pacifists and members of other religious organizations were also imprisoned under this classification
- Black triangle—people who were deemed "asocial elements" and "work shy" including
- Brown triangle—Roma (Gypsies) (previously wore the black triangle).
- Uninverted red triangle—an enemy POW, spy or a deserter.
People who wore the green and pink triangles were convicted in criminal courts and may have been transferred to the criminal prison systems after the camps were liberated.
- Two superimposed yellow triangles, the "Yellow badge"—a Jew
- Red inverted triangle superimposed upon a yellow one—a Jewish political prisoner
- Green inverted triangle upon a yellow one—a Jewish "habitual criminal"
- Purple inverted triangle superimposed upon a yellow one—a Jehovah's Witness of Jewish descent
- Pink inverted triangle superimposed upon a yellow one—a Jewish "sexual offender"
- Black inverted triangle superimposed upon a yellow one—"asocial" and "work shy" Jews
- Voided black inverted triangle superimposed over a yellow triangle—a Jew convicted of miscegenation and labeled as a "race defiler"
- Yellow inverted triangle superimposed over a black triangle—an Aryan (woman) convicted of miscegenation and labeled as a "race defiler"
In addition to colour-coding, some groups had to put letter insignia on their triangles to denote country of origin. Red triangle with a letter: "B" (Belgier, Belgians), "F" (Franzosen, French), "H" (Holländer, Dutch), "I" (Italiener, Italians), "J" (Jugoslawen, Yugoslavs), "N" (Norweger, Norwegian), "P" (Polen, Poles), "S" (Republikanische Spanier, Republican Spanish) "T" (Tschechen, Czechs), "U" (Ungarn, Hungarians).
Also, repeated offenders would receive bars over their stars or triangles, a different colour for a different crime.
- A political prisoner would have a red bar over his/her star or triangle
- A professional criminal would have a green bar
- A foreign forced laborer would have a blue bar
- A Jehovah's Witness would have a purple bar
- A homosexual or sex offender would have a pink bar
- An "asocial" would have a black bar
- A Roma (Gypsy) would have a brown bar
Many various markings and combinations existed. A prisoner would usually have at least two, and possibly more than six.
Some camps assigned Nacht und Nebel prisoners with two large letters, NN, in yellow.
Penal battalion, penal company, etc., are military units consisting of convicted persons for which military service was either the assigned punishment or a voluntary replacement of imprisonment.
Table of camp inmate markings
Jewish race defiler
Female race defiler
Special inmates' brown armband
Applicable marks were worn in descending order as follows: inmate number, repeater bar, triangle or star, member of penal battalion, escape suspect. In this case, the inmate is a Jewish convict with multiple convictions, serving in a penal battalion, Strafkompanie.
Pole: "P" on a red triangle
Czech: "T" (the German word for Czech is Tscheche) on a red triangle
Member of the armed forces: red triangle, an enemy POW or a deserter.
- ^ Nazis Open Dachau Concentration Camp
- ^ Plant, The Pink Triangle.
- ^ Claudia Schoppmann: Nationalsozialistische Sexualpolitik und weibliche Homosexualität (Dissertation, FU Berlin, 1990.) Centaurus, Pfaffenweiler 1991 (revisited 2nd edition 1997). ISBN 3-89085-538-5
- ^ "Black triangle women". 2001-02-01. http://www.oxfordstudent.com/ht2001wk3/Columns/black_triangle_women. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
- ^ Jewish Virtual Museum: Badges
- ^ Note that since "Jew" was defined along "racial" lines, such as by the Nuremberg Laws, Jews could be classified as Jehovah's Witnesses.
- ^ Politika: У Аушвицу, на вест о ослобођењу Београда
- Plant, Richard, The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals, Owl Books, 1988, ISBN 0-8050-0600-1.
- Camp badge chart at historyplace.com
- Additional camp badge chart
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Classification system in Nazi concentration camps.
- Stars, triangles and markings – Jewish Virtual Library
- Gay Prisoners in Concentration Camps as Compared with Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners by Ruediger Lautmann
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