The pink triangle (German: Rosa Winkel) was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, used to identify male prisoners who were sent there because of their homosexuality. Every prisoner had to wear a downward-pointing triangle on his or her jacket, the colour of which was to categorise him or her by “kind”. Other colors identified Jews (two triangles superimposed as a yellow star), political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “anti-social” prisoners, and others the Nazis deemed undesirable. Pink and yellow triangles could be combined if a prisoner was deemed to be gay and Jewish (see Nazi concentration camp table of inmate markings).
Originally intended as a badge of shame, the pink triangle (often inverted from its Nazi usage) has been reclaimed as 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 color of which categorized them into groups. Homosexual men had to wear the Pink Triangle. Other colors 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 gives a rough estimate of the number of men convicted for homosexuality “between 1933 to 1944 at between 50,000 and 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-establishedFederal 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 offense into a felony, remained intact in both East and West Germany 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.
In 1995, after a decade of campaigning, a pink triangle plaque was installed at the Dachau Memorial Museum to commemorate the suffering of gay men and lesbians.
By the end of the 1970s, the pink triangle was adopted 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, The Men with the Pink Triangle.
The pink triangle is the basis of the design of the Homomonument in Amsterdam, the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial inSydney, the Pink Triangle Park in the Castro neighbourhood of San Francisco and the huge 1-acre (4,000 m2) Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks that is displayed every year during San Francisco Pride weekend in San Francisco. It is also the basis of the design of the LGBT memorials in Barcelona and Sitges.
The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) adopted an inverted pink triangle along with the slogan “SILENCE = DEATH” as its logo shortly after its formation in 1987.