The Pink Triangle

The Pink Triangle (German: Rosa Winkel) was the Nazi concentration camp badge used to identify all homosexual men, as well as those imprisoned for sexual offences such as rape, bestiality, and paedophilia. Originally intended as a badge of shame, the Pink Triangle, often inverted from its Nazi usage, has become an international symbol of gay-pride and the gay-rights movement, and is second in popularity only to the rainbow flag.
Under Nazi Germany, every prisoner had to wear a concentration camp badge on their jacket, the colour of which categorized them into groups. Individuals who were sexual offenders (including homosexual men) had to wear the Pink Triangle. Other colours 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 (The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals) gives a rough estimate of the number of men convicted for homosexuality “between 1933 and 1944 is about 63,000.”
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 offence into a felony, remained intact 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.
Today, fewer than ten of those imprisoned for homosexuality are known to be still living. In 2000, the documentary film Paragraph 175 recorded some of their testimonies.
By the end of the 1970s, the pink triangle resurfaced as a symbol for gay rights protest. Some academics have linked the reclamation of
the symbol with the publication, in the early 1970s, of concentration camp survivor Heinz Heger’s memoir, Men With The Pink
Triangle. The pink triangle is the basis of the design of the Homomonument in Amsterdam, the Gay in Sydney, the Pink Triangle Park in the Castro neighbourhood of San Francisco and the huge one-acre Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks that is displayed every year during San Francisco Pride weekend.
Reclaiming a previously offensive term, the gay areas of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland are known as the Pink
Triangles because of their approximate shapes.


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