Scrapbookpages Blog

May 4, 2014

“men imprisoned at Dachau for being gay” Updated

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:20 pm
Jews object to the use of a pink triangle combined with blue and white stripes by Urban Outfitters

Jews object to the use of a pink triangle combined with blue and white stripes by Urban Outfitters

The photo above appears on a page in a newspaper with the headline:

ADL calls on Urban Outfitters to pull tapestry evoking Holocaust prisoner apparel

This quote is from the newspaper article about the tapestry shown in the photo above:

The Anti-Defamation League again called out Urban Outfitters, the U.S. clothing-and-lifestyle-merchandise retailer, this time asking the chain to pull from its shelves a tapestry with a design that evokes apparel worn in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

The tapestry “is ‘eerily reminiscent’ of the … gray and white stripes and pink triangles that gay male prisoners were forced to wear” in the camps, ADL said in a Monday statement.

“Whether intentional or not, this gray and white striped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture,” said Abraham H. Foxman, the group’s national director, who is a Holocaust survivor.

ADL said it sent a letter to the retailer’s president and chief executive, Richard A. Hayne, expressing concern about the company’s use of Holocaust imagery.

Continue reading my origianl blog post:

What’s wrong with the quote, from a Santa Barbara newspaper, in the title of my blog post?

Men were NOT imprisoned at Dachau for being gay. In the old days, gay men in Germany were arrested for breaking the German law called Paragraph 175 which banned homosexual acts in public, as well as banning men from soliciting other men in public for gay sex.  Paragragh 175 had been on the books in Germany since 1871, but it was not being enforced until the Nazis took over.  Even then, gay men who were not having sex in pubic were not arrested.

I previously blogged about the Monument at Dachau which shows the triangles worn by the prisoners, except for the black triangle worn by criminals and the pink triangle worn by gay prisoners.

In a Santa Barbara newspaper article, which you can see in full here, this quote caught my attention:

How the community of [Dachau] survivors chooses to commemorate is yet another issue. At Dachau, men imprisoned for being gay were required to wear a badge featuring a pink downward-pointing triangle (Jews wore two triangles superimposed to create a yellow star). The pink triangle has since been reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride and the gay rights movement. A memorial sculpture commissioned in the 1960s features colored triangles that represent the various categories of prisoners. Conspicuously absent, however, was the pink one.

“At that time, many still saw homosexuality as a crime,” [Harold] Marcuse said. “Pink was banned by the survivors who commissioned the memorial. When gay activists wanted to put up a pink granite triangle memorial in that space in the 1970s, they were refused. It had to be placed in the Protestant memorial church at the far end of the former camp.”

Twenty years later, that granite panel was moved to a special memorial room in the museum.

Pink triangle in back room of Dachau museum

Pink triangle in “special memorial room” of Dachau museum

The Jews at Dachau did not wear two triangles superimposed to create a yellow star.

I took the photo below in the Dachau Museum in 1997.  It shows all the triangles used for badges in the Dachau camp.

A poster in the 1965 Dachau Museum

A poster in the 1965 Dachau Museum

Chart show the badges worn by concentration camp prisoners

Chart show the badges worn by concentration camp prisoners in all the camps

The following explanation of the Dachau badges is from my own website

The top row of triangles in the photo above shows all the colors of the badges worn by the prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps. Red was for Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and other “enemies of the state”; green was for German criminals; blue was for foreign forced laborers; brown was for Gypsies; pink was for homosexuals; purple was for Jehovah’s Witnesses and black was for asocials, a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, perverts, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn’t have a permanent address. The “work-shy,” or those who were arrested because they refused to work, wore a black badge.

The second row on the chart shows the same colors with a matching bar over the triangle. The bar denoted a “second-timer” or a prisoner who had been released and was then arrested again for a second offense. These prisoners were isolated from the general camp population and were not allowed privileges. Their work assignments were much more difficult. Many of the prisoners, including some Jews in the early days at Dachau, were released after they had been “rehabilitated.”

The black circles under the badges in the third row denote prisoners who were assigned to the penal colony. They were given the most difficult work assignments, usually in a rock quarry or gravel pit. Many of the camp locations were chosen because they were near a quarry which could furnish building materials for the new buildings Hitler was planning for Berlin and Linz, Austria, his former home town. Dachau had a gravel pit which was located where the Carmelite convent now stands.

The fourth row shows yellow triangles with each of the regular triangle colors placed on the top, forming a six-pointed star. These badges were worn by the Jews and showed their classification as political prisoners, criminals, foreign forced laborers, homosexuals or asocials.

A combination of a red triangle over a yellow triangle meant a Jewish political prisoner. The black dot below it meant that the Jewish prisoner had been assigned to the punishment detail.

A red triangle pointing upward designated a non-Jewish German political prisoner. The letter P on a red triangle pointing downward designated a Polish political prisoner.