Branded by the Pink Triangle by K. Setterington
Setterington, Ken. Branded by the Pink Triangle. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2013. Print.
One of the problems that gay youth face is that they do not grow up connected to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community history as there are no elders in their families that can tell them what it was like to be gay in days past. This well written and engaging book tells the story of an important time in LGBT history as it documents the Nazi persecution of gay men in WWII and documents the first use of the pink triangle (today reclaimed as a symbol of gay pride) as a Nazi symbol of gay persecution. Branded by the Pink Triangle seamlessly blends factual history with compelling narrative to engage teen readers.
The book begins with a description of Berlin in the 1920s that was quite tolerant of lesbians and gay men and had many businesses that catered to the gay community. The rise of the Nazi Party to political power brought a radical shift to German attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. Tolerance ended and a law that had been rarely enforced before was suddenly used to round up and imprison gay men. As the Nazis gained more power, they changed the law to send gay men to concentration camps where they were literally worked to death. Setterington tells of the actual experiences of gay survivors of the concentration camps with compassion and includes many personal pictures that add depth to the stories. He also provides a follow up chapter that shares what happened after the war to those gay men who survived the camps.
One minor criticism of this text is that the treatment of these men by the Allies at the end of the war in handled a bit too briefly. When the Allies liberated the concentration camps, they did not release gay prisoners. These men were transferred to prisons and made to complete their sentences for just being homosexual.
Branded by the Pink Triangle is highly recommended for school and public libraries as well as for junior and senior high social studies classrooms.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Sandra Anderson
Sandra Anderson is the Librarian at the Alberta Teachers’ Association Library. Sandra loves connecting people to the information they need – whether it is in books or online. She is an expert web searcher who has taught wb searching skills to a range of audiences. She cares deeply about social justice, technology, and the environment.