White badge with an inverted red triangle and number 1869 worn by a gay concentration camp inmate

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

White patch with an inverted red triangle and prisoner number 1896 worn by Josef Kohout while incarcerated in Flossenburg concentration camp from May 1940-April 1945. Josef was from Vienna, Austria, which was annexed by Nazi Germany in March 1938. Nazi ideology called for the racial and cultural purification of the German Reich and German policies persecuting Jews and other groups, including homosexuals and Roma, were enforced in Austria. In May 1939, 24 year old Josef was arrested by the police, and charged under Statute 175, which punished indecent acts between men. He was sentenced to prison for several months. After his release in November, he was transferred to the protective custody of the Gestapo as allowed by the law. He was then deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, Germany. By May 1940, Josef was imprisoned in Flossenburg in Bavaria. Most prisoners there worked as slave laborers in a stone quarry, and later, an aircraft factory. It was a brutal, corrupt camp known for routine, vicious prisoner abuse and frequent, random beatings and hangings. In mid-April 1945, as US troops approached, Josef and other prisoners were sent on a death march. Josef was liberated on April 25 by American troops, 19th Infantry. Josef returned to Vienna after the war ended in May. In April 1948, Josef successfully petitioned for the annulment of the criminal charges against him. In 1972, under the pseudonym Heinz Heger, Josef wrote the first published account by a gay survivor of concentration camps, Männer mit dem rosa Winkel [Men with the Pink Triangle.]

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  • Title: White badge with an inverted red triangle and number 1869 worn by a gay concentration camp inmate
  • Provenance: The badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by the Estate of Wilhelm Kroepfl, the partner of Josef Kohout, converting a 1994 loan.
  • Subject Keywords: Concentration camp inmates--Germany--Flossenburg--Biography. Death marches--Biography. Gays--Nazi persecution--Austria--Biography. Gay men--Austria--Biography. Male homosexuality--Austria--Biography. National socialism and homosexuality--Biography. National socialism and sex. Political prisoners--Germany--Biography.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Narrow strip of white cotton painted white with a red painted inverted triangle and a black painted number 1896 across the front center. The patch is stiff, most likely due to the use of oil based paints. There are a number of needle holes all around the patch, about .125 inches from the edge. One needle hole originally retained a fragment of black thread and there was adhesive residue on the back, suggesting the patch was sewn and glued to a uniform. The white field has dark residue and there are loose threads along the unfinished long edges.