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Pink triangle

The pink triangle, rendered in hot pink as a gay pride and gay rights symbol, was originally rendered in pink and used pointed downward on a Nazi concentration camp badge to denote homosexual men as well as sexual offenders including rapists, paedophiles and zoophiles.[1]

The pink triangle (German: Rosa Winkel)[2] was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, used to identify male prisoners who were sent there because of their homosexuality. The pink triangle was also used to identify sexual offenders including rapists, paedophiles and zoophiles.[3][4] Every prisoner had to wear a downward-pointing triangle on his or her jacket, the colour of which was to categorise him or her by "kind". Other colors identified Jews (two triangles superimposed as a yellow star), political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, "anti-social" prisoners, and others the Nazis deemed undesirable. Pink and yellow triangles could be combined if a prisoner was deemed to be gay and Jewish.[5]

Originally intended as a badge of shame, the pink triangle (often inverted from its Nazi usage) has been reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride and the gay rights movement, and is second in popularity only to the rainbow flag.[6]


  • Nazi use in concentration camps 1
  • Gay rights symbol 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Nazi use in concentration camps

Under Nazi Germany every prisoner had to wear a concentration camp badge on their jacket, the color of which categorized them into groups. Homosexual men had to wear the Pink Triangle. Other colors identified Jews (two triangles superimposed as a yellow star), political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, "anti-social" prisoners, and others the Nazis deemed undesirable.

While the number of homosexuals in German concentration camps is hard to estimate, Richard Plant gives a rough estimate of the number of men convicted for homosexuality "between 1933 to 1944 at between 50,000 and 63,000."[4]

After the camps were liberated at the end of the Second World War, many of the pink triangle prisoners were often simply re-imprisoned by the Allied-established Federal Republic of Germany. An openly gay man named Heinz Dörmer, for instance, served 20 years total, first in a Nazi concentration camp and then in the jails of the new Republic. In fact, the Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, which turned homosexuality from a minor offense into a felony, remained intact in both East and West Germany after the war for a further 24 years. While suits seeking monetary compensation have failed, in 2002 the German government issued an official apology to the gay community.[7]

In 1995, after a decade of campaigning, a pink triangle plaque was installed at the Dachau Memorial Museum to commemorate the suffering of gay men and lesbians.[8]

On August 3, 2011 Rudolf Brazda died at the age of 98; he was the last known homosexual deportation survivor. In 2000, the documentary film Paragraph 175 recorded some of their testimonies.

Gay rights symbol

A pink triangle surrounded by a green circle, as used to symbolize alliance with gay rights and space free from homophobia.

By the end of the 1970s, the pink triangle was adopted as a symbol for gay rights protest.[9][10] Some academics have linked the reclamation of the symbol with the publication, in the early 1970s, of concentration camp survivor Heinz Heger's memoir, The Men with the Pink Triangle.[11]

The pink triangle is the basis of the design of the Homomonument in Amsterdam, the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial in Sydney, the Pink Triangle Park in the Castro neighbourhood of San Francisco and the huge 1-acre (4,000 m2) Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks that is displayed every year during San Francisco Pride weekend in San Francisco.[12] It is also the basis of the design of the LGBT memorials in Barcelona, Sitges and Montevideo, and the burial component of the LGBT Pink Dolphin Monument in Galveston.

The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) adopted an inverted pink triangle along with the slogan "SILENCE = DEATH" as its logo shortly after its formation in 1987.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Plant, The Pink Triangle
  2. ^ "English-German Dictionary". Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ Plant, The Pink Triangle.
  4. ^ a b Plant, Richard (1988). The pink triangle: the Nazi war against homosexuals (revised ed.). H. Holt. p. 175.  
  5. ^ See Nazi concentration camp table of inmate markings
  6. ^ "San Francisco Neighborhoods: The Castro" KQED documentary.
  7. ^ Melissa Eddy (May 18, 2002). "Germany Offers Nazi-Era Pardons". Associated Press. 
  8. ^ Brocklebank, Christopher (31 May 2011). "New memorial to gay holocaust victims to be built in Munich".  
  9. ^ Gianoulis, Tina (2004). Claude J. Summers, ed. "Pink Triangle". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved 2014-09-26. In the early 1970s, gay rights organizations in Germany and the United States launched campaigns to reclaim the pink triangle. In 1973 the German gay liberation group Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (HAW) called upon gay men to wear the pink triangle as a memorial. 
  10. ^ "Symbols of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements". Lambda GLBT Community Services. 2004. Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  11. ^ Jensen, Erik (2002). "The pink triangle and political consciousness: gays, lesbians, and the memory of Nazi persecution". Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (1 and 2). 
  12. ^ "The Pink Triangle, displayed annually on Twin Peaks in San Francisco during Pride weekend". 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2013-02-12. 
  13. ^ Feldman, Douglas A. and Judith Wang Miller (1998). The AIDS Crisis: A Documentary History. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-28715-5. p. 176

Further reading

  • An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (1999) by Gad Beck (University of Wisconsin Press). ISBN 0-299-16500-0.
  • The Iron Words (2014) by Michael Fridgen (Dreamlly Publishing). ISBN 978-0-615-99269-3.
  • Liberation Was for Others: Memoirs of a Gay Survivor of the Nazi Holocaust (1997) by Pierre Seel (Perseus Book Group). ISBN 0-306-80756-4.
  • I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror (1995) by Pierre Seel. ISBN 0-465-04500-6.

External links

  • Auschwitz Concentration Camp: The Pink-Triangle prisoners
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