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Unused yellow stripe patch found by US forces at a concentration camp and used as evidence at war crimes trials

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Blank yellow bar patch intended for use as an identification badge for a Jewish prisoner in Langenstein-Zwieberge concentration camp, a subcamp of Buchenwald in Germany. This badge would be used with a separate inverted triangle patch, possibly of a different color, to indicate that the prisoner was Jewish. Both patches would be attached to a cloth strip and attached to the uniform, usually on the chest. The camp was liberated on April 11, by troops from the 399th Battalion, 8th Armored Division, and 83rd Infantry, which captured all the camp records intact. This badge was one of many found by Lt. Colonel Charles F. Ottoman, US Army, on April 22, 1945. It was used as evidence for Case No. 117 "Alleged atrocities at Zwieberge Malachit Concentration Camp" at the Subsequent Nuremberg War Crimes Trials held in Dachau in 1947. Zwieberge subcamps were built from April 1944 to bolster the German war effort. Due to Allied bombings, an underground factory complex was designed to relocate armament works. The major subcamp, Halberstadt-Langenstein-Zwieberge [Malachit / B2 / Landhaus), planned for 2000 inmates, held more than 5000. Prisoners who worked in the tunnels died in about 6 weeks, at a rate of 30-40 per day. About 60% of the 8-10,000 prisoners died. Prisoners were sent to the camp from all regions invaded by Germany. Inmates included Jews, political prisoners, prisoners of war, and asocials, such as criminals, homosexuals, Roma, and vagrants. Living conditions were primitive, food scarce, and disease rampant. The SS camp fuhrer Tscheu was notorious for his cruelty, beatings, lengthy torture sessions, and hangings. The murder of prisoners was a common occurrence. Malachit was evacuated on April 9, 1945, as Allied troops neared. 3000 inmates were sent on a death march, which 500 survived. On April 11, US troops entered the camp. They discovered about 1500 ill and dying inmates who were transferred to a military hospital in Halberstadt. Residents from Langenstein were ordered to bury the dead in mass graves. No postwar trials were held for officers or guards at the Malachit camps, but the captured records of the camp were introduced into evidence for War Crimes cases.

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  • Title: Unused yellow stripe patch found by US forces at a concentration camp and used as evidence at war crimes trials
  • Provenance: The unused cloth badge was transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991 by the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Subject Keywords: Concentration camps--Germany--Langenstein. Crimes against humanity--Germany. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Langenstein. Jews--Persecution--Germany. Nuremberg War Crime Trials, Nuremberg, Germany, 1946-1949--Evidence. World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities--Germany--Langenstein. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation--Germany--Langenstein. World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, German.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Small, narrow, bright gold cloth rectangle, folded and unevenly stitched with white thread lengthwise across the center. The short ends are unfinished. The patch appears unused. For use, this patch, which identified a Jewish prisoner, would be combined with triangle patch.

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