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Category: Army History/WW2

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Hitler's "Final Solution" to what he called the "Jewish Problem"
Australians did not have much to do with the German Army (other than in North Africa) and we did not have any input to liberating the people in concentration camps. They were mostly Jews, but there was also Gypsies, trade-union members, Communists, dissenters, artists and others from many walks of life. Because the Aussies & Kiwis had little to do in that area I barely touch on it here.
In NAZI Germany Jews were required by law to wear a yellow Star of David bearing the word "Jude" on their outer clothing.

A "homosexual's" armband worn by Jews

Jewish Ghetto armband Jewish Ghetto Armband (Kapo)

Badges of the Concentration Camps

  • The top row of triangles shows all the colors of the badges worn by the prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps. 
    • Red was for Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and other "enemies of the state"; 
    • green was for German criminals; 
    • blue was for foreign forced laborers; 
    • brown was for Gypsies; 
    • pink was for homosexuals; 
    • purple was for Jehovah's Witnesses and 
    • black was for asocials, a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn't have a permanent address. 
    • The "work-shy," or those who were arrested because they refused to work, wore a black badge. (In some of the camps, the "work-shy" wore a white badge.)
Before 1942, Gypsy men wore a black triangle; they were arrested and imprisoned for being asocial because they didn't have a permanent address, or for being "work-shy" because they were not employed. Every male citizen in Nazi Germany, who was capable of working, was required to take a job and they were not allowed to quit their job without permission. Gypsy women were arrested under the asocial category if they were prostitutes. In 1942, Gypsy families were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz where they were kept separately in a "family camp." After the Gypsy camp was closed, some of the prisoners were sent to Buchenwald; others were murdered in the gas chamber.

The second row on the chart shows the same colors with a matching bar over the triangle. The bar denoted a "second-timer" or a prisoner who had been released and was then arrested again for a second offense. These prisoners were isolated from the general camp population and were not allowed privileges. Their work assignments were much more difficult. Many of the prisoners, including some Jews in the early days at Dachau, were released after they had been "rehabilitated."

The black circles under the badges in the third row denote prisoners who were assigned to the penal colony. They were given the most difficult work assignments, usually in a rock quarry or gravel pit. Many of the camp locations were chosen because they were near a quarry which could furnish building materials for the new buildings Hitler was planning for Berlin and Linz, Austria, his former home town.

The fourth row shows yellow triangles with each of the regular triangle colors placed on the top, forming a six-pointed star. These badges were worn by the Jews and showed their classification as political prisoners, criminals, foreign forced laborers, homosexuals or asocials. 

No Jews were sent to any of the concentration camps just for being Jewish until November 1938 when 30,000 German Jews were arrested and approximately10,000 were sent to each of the major camps: Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Most of them were released within a few weeks but only if they signed over all their property to the Nazis and agreed to leave Germany within six months. Many of them ended up going to Shanghai because they could not get visas to any country, and during the war, they were interned by the Japanese. 

  • In 1942, all the Jews in Germany and the Nazi occupied countries were systematically rounded up and sent to the death camps in Poland.

The next row shows a yellow triangle with another yellow triangle with a black border on top of it. This designated a Jew who was arrested for race defilement or for having sex with a non-Jew. All prisoners at Dachau and all the other Nazi camps were assigned a number and at roll call, they had to answer when their number was called. The number was written on a white rectangle which each prisoner had to wear on his uniform.

A combination of a red triangle over a yellow triangle meant a Jewish political prisoner. The black dot below it meant that the Jewish prisoner had been assigned to the punishment detail.

A red triangle pointing upward designated a non-Jewish German political prisoner. The letter P on a red triangle pointing downward designated a Polish political prisoner. A prison uniform is shown with the placement of the badge on either the shirt or the pants. Prisoners were required to wear at least one part of the striped uniform. Photographs displayed in the Dachau museum, that were taken in 1938, show most of the prisoners wearing a regular shirt and striped prison pants with their prison number worn on their pant's leg.

Partly from

From the Holocaust Museum comes this display of badges


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces