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File:Black triangle.svg

The black triangle, as used by the Nazis and as a lesbian pride symbol, originates from where it was used to mark prisoners as "asocial" or "arbeitsscheu" (work-shy) in Nazi concentration camps.

The black triangle was a badge used in Nazi concentration camps to mark prisoners as "asocial" or "arbeitsscheu" (work-shy). It was later adopted as a lesbian or feminist symbol of pride and solidarity, on the assumption that the Nazis included lesbians in the "asocial" category.

Nazi usage

The symbol originates from Nazi concentration camps, where every prisoner had to wear one of the Nazi concentration camp badges on their jacket, the color of which categorized them according to "their kind." Individuals deemed "anti-social" had to wear the Black Triangle. Many of Black Triangle prisoners were either mentally retarded or mentally ill. The homeless were also included, as were alcoholics, the habitually "work-shy," prostitutes, and others (including draft dodgers, pacifists and even aristocrats).[1]

Romani or Roma people, also known as Gypsies, were usually classed with Black Triangle prisoners, but some concentration camps gave them a separate badge - the Brown Triangle - instead.

Use by lesbians

Template:LGBT symbols Lesbians have over time claimed the black triangle as a symbol of defiance against repression and discrimination, and it is considered a counterpart to the gay pink triangle. Today, it is as a lesbian symbol that the black triangle is most widely recognized, though some anarchists use a black triangle as their symbol.

Controversy over the symbol's use

File:Kennzeichen für Schutzhäftlinge in den Konzentrationslagern.jpg

The black triangle in the context of the marking system for prisoners in German concentration camps

In the Nazis' meticulous records, there is no word of the black triangle having been imposed on lesbians, or of lesbians as a group being confined to concentration camps. However, some[who?] have theorized that since the Nazis believed strongly in a traditional social role for women, lesbians and other sexually unconventional women[vague] might logically have been considered "asocial" from the Nazis' point of view.[citation needed]

The archive of the memorial site of Ravensbrück has evidence of four women with an additional remark of being lesbians: two of them had been persecuted for political reasons, two for being Jewish. One of the Jewish inmates was given a black triangle due to sexual contacts with non-Jewish persons.[2]

It is possible that Playing for Time ('Sursis pour l'orchestre'), a holocaust memoir by Frenchwoman Fania Fénelon, helped create the belief that the black triangle was worn by lesbians. Fénelon's memoir includes lesbian themes and describes an evening of entertainment in the asocials' barracks as the "Black Triangles' Ball."[3]

Further reading

  • Elman, R. Amy. "Triangles and Tribulations: The Politics of Nazi Symbols," Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 30, no. 3 (1996): 3-11.
  • Marshall, Stuart. "The Contemporary Use of Gay History: The Third Reich," in Bad-Object Choices (ed.), How Do I Look? Queer Film and Video, Seattle, Wash.: Bay Press, 1991.
  • Zoe, Lucinda. "The Black Triangle," Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter, Brooklyn, N.Y., No. 12 (June 1991): p. 7. (A critical discussion of the notion that black triangles were used to mark lesbians in the concentration camps in a manner equivalent to the pink triangle for homosexual men, along with remarks on when the black triangle came to be used as a contemporary lesbian symbol).

See also


  1. The unsettled, "asocials", alcoholics and prostitutes
  2. Claudia Schoppmann, Nationalsozialistische Sexualpolitik und weibliche Homosexualität (Dissertation, FU Berlin, 1990.), Centaurus, Pfaffenweiler, 1991 (revisited 2nd edition 1997). ISBN 3-89085-538-5
  3. Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals - Bibliography: A-L

de:Asoziale (Nationalsozialismus) el:Μαύρο τρίγωνο fr:Triangle noir it:Triangolo nero he:משולש שחור hu:Fekete háromszög (jelvény) pl:Czarny trójkąt ru:Чёрный треугольник sh:Crni trougao tr:Siyah üçgen

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