World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nazi concentration camp badge

Article Id: WHEBN0000447379
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nazi concentration camp badge  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: The Holocaust, Anti-Polish sentiment, Holocaust victims
Collection: Personal Identification Documents, Terminology of Nazi Concentration Camps, The Holocaust
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Nazi concentration camp badge

Nazi camp ID-emblems in a 1936 German illustration.

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.[1] 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. Such emblems helped guards assign tasks to the detainees: for example, a guard at a glance could see if someone were a convicted criminal (green patch) and thus likely of a "tough" temperament suitable for kapo duty. Someone with an "escape suspect" mark usually would not be assigned to work squads operating outside the camp fence. Someone wearing an F could be called upon to help translate guards' spoken instructions to a trainload of new arrivals from France. Some historical monuments quote the badge-imagery; the use of a triangle being a sort of visual shorthand to symbolize all camp victims. The modern day use of a pink triangle emblem to symbolize gay rights is a response to the camp identification patches.

Contents

  • Badge coding system 1
    • Single triangles 1.1
    • Double triangles 1.2
    • Distinguishing marks 1.3
      • Special marks 1.3.1
  • Table of camp inmate markings 2
  • Postwar use 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Badge coding system

The system of badges varied between the camps, and in the later stages of World War II, 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.

Single triangles

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.

Double triangles

Double-triangle badges resembled two superimposed triangles forming a Star of David, a Jewish symbol.

  • Two superimposed yellow triangles or a six-pointed star, the "Yellow badge"— a Jew. The word Jude ("Jew") was often inscribed in faux-Hebrew-looking letters inside the center of the badge.
  • 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[7]
  • 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 labelled as a Rassenschänder ("race defiler").
  • Yellow inverted triangle superimposed over a black triangle—an Aryan (woman) convicted of miscegenation and labelled as a Rassenschänder ("race defiler").

Like those who wore pink and green triangles, people in the bottom two categories would have been convicted in criminal courts.

Distinguishing marks

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, for example: "B" (Belgier, Belgians), "F" (Franzosen, French), "H" (Holländer, Dutch), "I" (Italiener, Italians), "J"[8] (Jugoslawen, Yugoslavs), "N" (Norweger, Norwegian), "P" (Polen, Poles), "S" (republikanische Spanier, Republican Spanish) "T" (Tschechen, Czechs), "U" (Ungarn, Hungarians), "Z" notation next to Black Triangle (Zigeuner, Gypsy).

Also, repeat offenders (rückfällige > "recidivists") 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

Later in the war (late 1944), to save cloth, Jewish prisoners wore a yellow bar over a regular point-down triangle to indicate their status. For instance, regular Jews would wear a yellow bar over a red triangle while Jewish criminals would wear a yellow bar over a green triangle.

Special marks

Many various markings and combinations existed. A prisoner would usually have at least two, and possibly more than six.

"Limited Preventative Custody" detainee ("Befristete Vorbeugungshaft" Häftling, or BV) was the term for general criminals (who wore green triangles with no special marks). They originally were only supposed to be incarcerated at the camp until their term expired and then they would be released. However, when the war began they were confined indefinitely for its duration.

Erziehungshäftlinge ("Reformatory Inmates") wore E or EH in large black letters on a white square. They were made up of intellectuals and respected community members who could organize and lead a resistance movement, suspicious persons picked up in sweeps or stopped at checkpoints, people caught performing conspiratorial activities or acts, and inmates who broke work discipline. They were assigned to hard labor for 6 to 8 weeks and were then released. It was hoped that the threat of permanent incarceration at hard labor would deter them from further mischief.

Polizeihäftlinge ("Police Inmates"), short for Polizeilich Sicherungsverwahrte Häftlinge ("Police Secure Custody Inmates"), wore either PH in large black letters on a white square or the letter S (for Sicherungsverwahrt - "Secure Custody") on a green triangle. To save expense, some camps had them just wear their civilian clothes without markings. Records used the letter PSV (Polizeilich Sicherungsverwahrt) to designate them. They were people awaiting trial by a police court-martial or who were already convicted. They were detained in a special jail barracks until they were executed.

Some camps assigned Nacht und Nebel prisoners had them wear two large letters, NN (for Nacht und Nebel - "Night and Fog") in yellow.

Soviet prisoners of war (russische Kriegsgefangenen) assigned to work camps (Arbeitslager) wore two large letters, SU (for sowjetischer Untermensch - "Soviet Sub-Human") in yellow and had vertical stripes painted on their uniforms. They often performed hard labor and many died of neglect (untreated wounds, exposure to the elements, or starvation) or were shot out of hand before they could reach a camp. Many also joined Vlasov's Liberation Army to fight for the Germans.

"Labor Education Detainees" (Arbeitserziehung Häftling) wore a white letter A on their black triangle. This stood for Arbeitsscheuer ("Work-Shy Person") - designating "lazy" social undesirables like Gypsies, petty criminals (e.g., prostitutes and pickpockets), alcoholics / drug addicts, and vagrants. They were usually assigned to work at labor camps.

Asoziale ("Anti-Socials") inmates wore a plain black triangle. They were considered either too "selfish" or "deviant" to contribute to society or were considered too impaired to support themselves. They were therefore considered a burden. This category included pacifists and conscription resisters, petty or habitual criminals, the mentally ill, and the mentally and / or physically disabled. They were usually executed or euthanized.

The Wehrmacht Strafbattalion ("Punishment Battalion") and SS Bewahrungstruppe ("Probation Company") were military punishment units. They consisted of Wehrmacht and SS military criminals, SS personnel convicted by an Honor Court of bad conduct, and civilian criminals for which military service was either the assigned punishment or a voluntary replacement of imprisonment. They wore regular uniforms but were forbidden rank or unit insignia until they had proven themselves in combat. They wore a reversed (point-upwards) red triangle on their upper sleeves to indicate their status. Most were used for hard labor, "special tasks" (unwanted dangerous jobs like defusing landmines or running phone cables) or were used as forlorn hopes or cannon fodder. The infamous Dirlewanger Brigade was an example of a regular unit created from such personnel.

A Strafkompanie ("Punishment Company") (SK) was a hard labor unit in the camps. Inmates assigned to it wore a black roundel bordered white under their triangle patch.

Prisoners "suspected of [attempting to] escape" (Fluchtverdächtiger) wore a red roundel bordered white under their triangle patch. If also assigned to hard labor, they wore the red roundel under their black Strafkompanie roundel.

A Prisoner-Functionary (Funktionshäftling), or

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • 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

External links

  • 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

References

  1. ^ Nazis Open Dachau Concentration Camp
  2. ^ Johannes S. Wrobel, Jehovah’s Witnesses in National Socialist Concentration Camps, 1933 – 45, Religion, State & Society, Vol. 34, No. 2, June 2006, pp. 89-125 "The concentration camp prisoner category ‘Bible Student’ at times apparently included a few members from small Bible Student splinter groups, as well as adherents of other religious groups which played only a secondary role during the time of the National Socialist regime, such as Adventists, Baptists and the New Apostolic community (Garbe 1999, pp. 82, 406; Zeiger, 2001, p. 72). Since their numbers in the camps were quite small compared with the total number of Jehovah’s Witness prisoners, I shall not consider them separately in this article. Historian Antje Zeiger (2001, p. 88) writes about Sachsenhausen camp: ‘In May 1938, every tenth prisoner was a Jehovah’s Witness. Less than one percent of the Witnesses included other religious nonconformists (Adventists, Baptists, pacifists), who were placed in the same prisoner classification.’"
  3. ^ Plant, The Pink Triangle.
  4. ^ Jewish Virtual Museum: Badges
  5. ^ Claudia Schoppmann: Nationalsozialistische Sexualpolitik und weibliche Homosexualität (Dissertation, FU Berlin, 1990.) Centaurus, Pfaffenweiler 1991 (revisited 2nd edition 1997). ISBN 3-89085-538-5
  6. ^ "Black triangle women". 1 February 2001. Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  7. ^ Note that since "Jew" was defined along "racial" lines, such as by the Nuremberg Laws, Jews could be classified as Jehovah's Witnesses.
  8. ^ Politika: У Аушвицу, на вест о ослобођењу Београда
  9. ^ Rochelle G. Saidel (2006). The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp (pg 76). Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Rochelle G. Saidel (2006). The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp (pg 76). Retrieved 20 May 2013. 

Notes

Triangle-motifs appear on many postwar memorials to the victims of the Nazis. Most triangles are plain while some others bear nationality-letters. The otherwise potentially puzzling designs are a direct reference to the identification patches used in the camps. On such monuments, typically an inverted (point down, base up) triangle (especially if red) evokes all victims, including also the non-Jewish victims like Slavs, Poles, communists, gays, Roma (see Porajmos), the handicapped (see Action T4), and Soviet POWs. An inverted triangle colored pink would symbolize gay male victims. A non-inverted (base down, point up) triangle and/or a yellow triangle is generally more evocative of the Jewish victims.

Postwar use

Politisch
Political prisoners
Berufsverbrecher
Professional criminals
Emigrant
("Emigrants")
Foreign forced laborers
Bibelforscher
("Bible Students")
Jehovah's Witnesses
Homosexuell
Homosexuals
Arbeitsscheu / ("Work-Shy")
Asozial / ("Asocials")
Zigeuner
("Gypsies")
Roma and Sinti males
Basic colours
Markings for repeaters
Inmates of Strafkompanie (German: punishment companies)
Markings for Jews

Table of camp inmate markings

[10]-ed clothing.Xs were made with white oil paint, with sewn-on cloth strips, or were cut (with underlying jacket-liner fabric providing the contrasting color). Detainees would be compelled to sew their number and (if applicable) a triangle emblem onto the fronts of such X prisoner uniform. For permanence, such ersatz This made for an [9]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.