The "Asocial" category was, perhaps, the most diverse,
including prostitutes, vagrants, murderers, thieves, lesbians, and those
who violated laws prohibiting sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews.
In addition, while the brown triangle was used for Gypsies under certain
circumstances, they were more often forced to wear the black triangle categorizing
them as "asocials."
Some patches included letters on the triangles to further distinguish
among the various groups in the camps. Most commonly, the letter indicated
nationality, e.g., "F" for franzosisch (French), "P" for polnisch
(Polish), "T" for tschechisch (Czech), etc., but it could also denote
special sub-categories of prisoners. For example, the white letter "A"
on a black triangle signified a labor disciplinary prisoner (Arbeitserziehungshaftling),
while a black "S" on a green triangle identified a strafthaft, or
penal prisoner. In addition, the word Blod on a black triangle marked
mentally retarded inmates, and a red and white target symbol set apart
those who had tried to escape.
For Jewish offenders, triangles of two different colors were combined
to create a six-pointed star, one triangle yellow to denote a Jew, the
second triangle another color to denote the added offense. For example,
a Jewish criminal would wear a yellow triangle overlayed by a green one;
Jewish homosexuals wore pink triangles over yellow.
Outside the camps, the occupying Nazi forces ordered Jews to wear patches
or armbands marked with the star of David, though the specific characteristics
of the badge (size, shape, color) varied by region. For example, some yellow
stars were marked with a large "J" in the center, while elsewhere the patches
had "Jude" (or "Jood," "Juif," etc.) stitched in the
middle. Those who failed to wear the star were subject to arrest and deportation,
a fate that frightened most Jews into compliance even though the patch
subjected them to restrictions, harrassment, and isolation.
Source: Edelheit, Abraham J. and Hershel Edelheit. History
of the Holocaust: A Handbook and Dictionary. Boulder, CO: Westview
Press, 1994, pp. 218, 239, 266, 448.
For more information about the history of the requirement that Jews
wear a distinctive marking or sign, including during the Nazi period, see
the entry "Badge, Jewish" in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, v.4, pp.
62-73. Jerusalem: Macmillan, 1972.
From the United States Holocaust Memorial
Posted 29 May 1999.