Under the rule of Adolf Hitler during WWII, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied many European countries, forcing millions of people to live under German control. Throughout their rule, ordinary people witnessed the crimes of the Holocaust, and inevitably became complicit in the Nazi regime’s crimes by not standing up against them. Indeed, the Nazis even found numerous willing aides who collaborated and took part in said crimes with them.
Beginning in 1938, Jews in the concentration camps were identified by a yellow star sewn onto their prison uniforms, a perversion of the Jewish Star of David symbol. The Nazis required Jews to wear the yellow Star of David not only in the camps but throughout most of occupied Europe. The categories of prisoners were easily identified by a marking system combining a colored inverted triangle with lettering, with some variation form camp to camp. The badges sewn onto prisoner uniforms enabled SS guards to identify the alleged grounds for incarceration.
Criminals were marked with green inverted triangles, political prisoners with red, “asocials” (including Roma – or “gypsies”, nonconformists, vagrants, and other groups) with black or—in the case of Roma in some camps—brown triangles. Homosexuals were identified with pink triangles and Jehovah’s Witnesses with purple triangles. Non-German prisoners were identified by the first letter of the German name for their home country, which was sewn onto their badge. The two triangles forming the Jewish star badge would both be yellow unless the Jewish prisoner was included in one of the other prisoner categories
As we learned through Mercury One’s The Nazarene Fund, this kind of evil is not dead. But, like the many who provided shelter, resources and escape to those who were targeted in the 1930s and 1940s, these types of kind people also still exist. We must always remember and never forget.
How can history help us think about the world we live in today? During the Holocaust Days of Remembrance, many of us remind ourselves of the tragic genocide that occurred during World War II. Even today we still need to remind ourselves that all types of diversity make this world a better place. We should have hope that each of us can stand proud of how we live with no fear.
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