Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Black triangle…

The black triangle (now a widely used lesbian pride symbol), was used by the Nazi’s to mark prisoners as “asocial” in the Nazi concentration camps.

In the Nazi concentration camps every prisoner had to wear a badge (known as the concentration badges) on their jackets, the specific colour of the badges catogorising according to “their kind”. People who were deemed “asocial” had to wear black triangles. The majority of black-triangle prisoners were “mentally retarded” or homeless people. But the minority groups of he prisoners also assigned the black triangle were alcoholics, the unemployed, prostitutes and other such undesirables. Gypsies (or Romas) were also classed with black triangle prisoners, but at some camps were given a brown triangle badge instead.

The lesbian community has over time claimed the black triangle as a symbol of defiance against repression and discrimination and is seen as the equivalent of the gay pink triangle.

Pink Triangle

The pink triangle was also a Nazi concentration camp badge used for gay men.

Prior to the second World War Paragraph 175, a clause in German law, prohibited homosexual relations (think of the US States who today still have laws against "crimes of nature"). During 1935 when Hitler rose to power he broadened the law to include homosexual kissing, embracing, and even having homosexual fantasies. About 25,000 people were convicted under this law between 1937 and 1939 alone. They were sent to prisons and later concentration camps. Their sentence also included sterilization, most commonly in the form of castration. In 1942, Hitler extended the punishment for homosexuality to death.

Although homosexual prisoners were not shipped en mass to the Aushwitz death camps like so many of the Jewish prisoners, there were still large numbers of gay men executed there along with other non-Jewish prisoners. The real tragedy though occurred after the war. When the Allies defeated the Germany and the Nazi Regime, the political and remaining Jewish prisoners were released from the camps (the regular criminals- murderers, rapists, etc.- were not released for obvious reasons). The homosexual prisoners were never released though because Paragraph 175 remained West German law until 1969. So these innocent men watched as their fellow prisoners were set free, but remained prisoners for 24 more years.

No comments: