by Francesca Del Moro

When commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, people often forget that, apart from the approximately six million Jews, the extermination systematically carried on by the Nazis hit between five and seven million more people. In order to easily recognize the social and ethnic groups they belonged to, the prisoners of the concentration camps had to wear – besides their registration number – a label of a given colour and shape on the left side of their jacket and on their trousers. Apart from the most known Star of David worn by Jews, consisting of two superimposed triangles with the word “Jude” stamped on, also the other prisoners had to wear a single upside down triangle made of cloth. It was a way to “brand” them in order to deny their identity and their existential journey and to categorize them according to stereotypes already widespread before the Second World War and still existing today in our so-called “civilized” society. Political prisoners (red triangle), common criminals (green triangle), asocial people (including the mentally ill, homeless, alcoholics, Lesbian, all marked with a black triangle), homosexuals (pink triangle), Rom and Sinti (brown triangle), stateless people (blue triangle) were all considered “Untermenschen”, wrong human beings to be executed because they were guilty of contaminating the pureness of the German people. The prisoners who belonged to two of the abovementioned categories wore double triangles: for example, a red triangle placed on top of a yellow one marked a Jewish political prisoner; a yellow triangle on top of a pink one marked a Jewish homosexual. The letters inside the triangles referred to their homeland (“B” for Belgier, Belgian, “F” for Franzose, French, “I” for Italiener, Italian etc). There were many other symbols that referred to peculiar situations: for example, a black triangle turned upside down with a yellow triangle placed upon it marked a Jewish woman that had an interracial relationship; a
brown band around the arm marked “special” prisoners.