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Branded by the Pink Triangle

Branded by the Pink Triangle

by Ken Setterington

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A history of the persecution of gay men by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. When the Nazis came to power in Europe, the lives of homosexuals came to be ruled by fear as raids, arrests, prison sentences and expulsions became the daily reality. When the concentration camps were built, homosexuals were imprisoned along with Jews. The pink triangle, sewn onto prison


A history of the persecution of gay men by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. When the Nazis came to power in Europe, the lives of homosexuals came to be ruled by fear as raids, arrests, prison sentences and expulsions became the daily reality. When the concentration camps were built, homosexuals were imprisoned along with Jews. The pink triangle, sewn onto prison uniforms, became the symbol of their persecution. This book combines historical research with first-person accounts and individual stories to bring this time to life for readers. From the first chapter, with its story of a young Jewish girl who was rescued from the depths of despair and starvation in the camps by a fellow prisoner who wore the pink triangle, to the last, entitled It Gets Better, which outlines the strides forward in gay rights made in the decades since the war, the feeling of bravery and perseverance in the face of inhuman cruelty shines through.

Editorial Reviews

Reading Today Online
"This book does an excellent job of describing the initial harassment of gay men by the Nazis...Young readers will now know this important piece of Holocaust history and understand the significance of the pink triangle, now the symbol of gay rights, once a mark of shame."
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"With accuracy and alacrity, Ken Setterington details the Nazi persecution of homosexuals...Beyond being useful for research purposes, it serves to begin those sensitive and controversial discussions that are our right and freedom to embrace in a democratic nation."
"Setterington’s is a significant contribution to LGBT history and one that deserves a wide readership."
VOYA - Lorne Carter
This book provides a complete description of the situation of homosexuals in Europe, before , during, and after the Holocaust. It tells the stories of specific young men persecuted by the Nazis, showing the horrors they endured. The combination of the tales of different young men, facts, political background, and some statistics is highly effective. By reading this book, readers will greatly expand their knowledge of the people who suffered during the Nazi rule. 4Q, 2P. Reviewer: Lorne Carter, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Kim Carter
In the 1920s and early 1930s, Berlin, Germany was an "exceptional city" for homosexuals, with "people from around the world travel[ing] to Berlin to enjoy the freedom of this exciting atmosphere." Paragraph 175, the law against homosexuality, was so rarely enforced "activists were working to abolish Paragraph 175 altogether." With the rise of the Nazi party, however, freedom turned to fear, and despite the fact that Ernest Rohm, Hitler's most influential deputy and trusted friend, was widely known to be a homosexual, homosexual rights organizations were banned once Hitler was appointed Chancellor. The first concentration camp at Dachau was established shortly after that. Rohm's execution during the Night of the Long Knives, July 1, 1934, heralded Hitler's public position that the homosexual threat to development of the Aryan race would not be tolerated. The subsequent sharp increase in the number of homosexual convictions under Paragraph 175 resulted in thousands of homosexuals, primarily men, sent to concentration camps, where they were identified by the pink triangle on their prison uniforms. With thousands of homosexual prisoners executed each year during the peak years of persecution, the pink triangle came to symbolize the persecution of homosexuals for years to come. Librarian Setterington employs a deft storyteller's touch, weaving riveting narratives with in-depth historical research to make this under-reported historical chapter come alive. An important book for young readers, LGBT educators, community members, and allies, Branded By The Pink Triangle conveys inhumanity and horror, balanced by bravery, compassion, and perseverance. Reviewer: Kim Carter
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Stories from the Holocaust are universally heartbreaking and horrifying, and this one is no different. The pink triangle was used by the Nazis to identify homosexual prisoners in the concentration camps, and here Setterington shows how it has been adopted by the gay movement as a symbol of strength and pride. He describes how German society's relatively tolerant attitudes of the 1920s grew less so as Hitler and the Nazis came into power and began a quest to purify the "Aryan race." By weaving the individual experiences into a broader account of the treatment and persecution of homosexuals by the Nazi regime, the author provides a compelling and evocative narrative. Culling first-person accounts from concentration camp survivors, he is able to paint a picture of the fear and harassment (and for some, ultimately death) that these individuals and their families endured. The writing is succinct but detailed enough to satisfy researchers. Period photographs, a lengthy time line, and an extensive bibliography round out the strengths of this thoughtful, informative work.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
An impassioned and cogent history of the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust. Setterington opens with the riveting anecdote of a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who was rescued and nurtured by a man with a pink triangle on his uniform. From this beginning, he moves back in time to introduce readers to early-20th-century Berlin, a bastion of gay tolerance despite the anti-homosexual law known as Paragraph 175. He goes on to chronicle the Nazis' crackdown on gay men, their deportation to concentration camps, the experiences of both Jewish and Gentile gay men, and the aftermath of the war. Most cruelly, gay survivors were treated as criminals rather than victims, since their liberators viewed homosexuality as a crime. Illuminating the historical overview are stories of specific young (mostly teenage) gay men, taken mostly from memoirs. They are related with immediacy, personalizing the potentially mind-numbing catalog of horrors that make up any Holocaust account. Details, too, take readers into the heart of the insanity: Paragraph 175 was enforced in Western European "Aryan" territories such as the Netherlands but not in Poland and Eastern Europe, where they were seen as part of the strategy to undermine the already-"degraded" Slavic peoples. Never downplaying the appalling cataclysm that was the murder of 6 million Jews, Setterington nevertheless effectively makes the case for history's need to remember Hitler's other victims as well. Despite its brevity, a remarkably informative and necessary work. (notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Second Story Press
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19 MB
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Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ken Setterington is a storyteller, author, children’s book reviewer, and a librarian. He was the first Children and Youth Advocate for Library Services for the Toronto Public Library. He has been on the award committee for the Newbery, Caldecott and Sibert awards. The author of the picture book Mom and Mum are Getting Married!, Ken lives with his partner in Toronto.

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