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  • Aanya M.

The Pink Triangle


To identify and further dehumanize gay men in concentration camps in Nazi Germany, an upside-down pink triangle was sewed onto their clothes. Activists did not reclaim the sign as a symbol of liberation until the 1970s.


Triangles of various colors were used to identify each category of "undesirable." Yellow for Jews, brown for Gypsies, red for political prisoners, green for criminals, black for anti-socials, purple for Jehovah's Witnesses, blue for immigrants, and pink for homosexuals. In Germany, homosexuality was declared illegal in 1871, but it was rarely enforced until the Nazi Party came to power in 1933. As part of their effort to "purify" Germany racially and culturally, the Nazis arrested thousands of LGBT people, especially gay males, whom they considered degenerate.


When the concentration camps were finally freed at the end of the war, almost all of the prisoners were released except those who wore the pink triangle. Many of those who had a pink triangle in their pocket were re-incarcerated, and their nightmare continued.


According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were imprisoned and sent to concentration camps. The Nazis utilized the pink triangle to identify and shame homosexuals in concentration camps. This emblem, which was once used to name and shame gay people, has now become a symbol of pride for the LGBTQ+ community.


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