Triangles

Question:

i am looking for a comprehensive list of symbols people had to wear during the holocaust. I know Jews had to wear the star of David, lesbians a pink triangle, but I am not sure about the others. I once read a book that mentioned a brown and black triangle. I am a 7th grade English teacher in .... We do study the holocaust as part of an interdisciplinary unit. I would appreciate any information you could give me about the triangles. Last year I had students who wanted to design a t-shirt using those symbols. Thank you for your help. I have bookmarked your web site as a future reference for my students.

Yale F. Edeiken answers:

There is a very good chart of the distintive badges used at Auschwitz in Danuta Czech "Auschwitz Chronicle" page 82. (Owl Books; 1989: ISBN 0-8050-0938-8 and -- pb --0-8050-5238-0. Gypsies were given a brown triangle pointed down. "Asocial" prisoners were given a black triangle pointed down as were "labor reeducation prisoners." The latter had a white "A" in the center of the triangle. Additionally "asocial Jews" wore a star of David with a a black triangle pointed down superimposed on a yellow triangle pointed up.

I am a 7th grade English teacher in .... We do study the holocaust as part of an interdisciplinary unit. I would appreciate any information you could give me about the triangles. Last year I had students who wanted to design a t-shirt using those symbols.

The chart in Danuta Czech's book should provide a good basis for the design of a t-shirt.

Thank you for your help. I have bookmarked your web site as a future reference for my students.

Thank you for the compliment. I hope this helps you. If your students decide to design a t-shirt, please let us know.

Yale F. Edeiken
The Holocaust History Project

Question:

I've done a little looking, but I can't find out which symbol was assigned to intellectuals interned in concentration camps. I realize that quite a few foreign prisoners associated with higher learning and other presumably anti-fascist social groups suffered in the camps. I've seen a chart, but no mention of the "intelligensia" is made. I presume the triangle theme applied. Were they lumped in with "political" prisoners?

Also, it seems as though symbols varied a little between camps (perhaps I received bad information).

Harry W. Mazal OBE responds:

I am one of the persons in the Holocaust History Project that replies to questions from our readers. It is possible that you will receive other replies from my colleagues.

The first camp to use colored badges to identify their prisoners was Dachau. Their color scheme can be viewed at the following site:

http://www.igc.org/ddickerson/dachau-badges.html

The main classifications were:

  1. Political - Red

  2. Criminal - Green

  3. Antisocial - Black

  4. Homosexual - Pink

  5. Emigrant - Blue

  6. Jehovah's Witness - Purple

  7. Jews - Yellow
The badges were usually in the form of triangles. A Jewish "antisocial" might then wear a yellow patch with a black one placed in such a way that together they form a star. The badges could also have lettering and other symbols. I would presume that intellectuals were probably considered to be political prisoners, but I am not certain.

The Dachau badges don't appear to be significantly different to the badges used in Auschwitz. You might wish to see the response my colleague, Yale Edeiken, made to a similar question:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/questions/triangles.shtml

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

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