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Prisoner’s Coat

The uniforms received by prisoners contributed to their dehumanization by erasing individuality and reducing people to an indistinct mass. The highly visible and distinctive colors made any attempt to escape extremely difficult. Each of these striped uniforms was marked with a badge indicating the prisoner’s category and an identification number that substituted his or her name.

Many surviving coats show signs of possible alteration, which was common among prisoners. The visible stitching on the left side of the chest is where the identifying badges were sewn on.

This coat has been authenticated, but the provenance is unknown. There are signs that the wearer had special status in the camps. Uniforms with pockets were considered a luxury, as they could be used to conceal extra rations. This coat is also made with a thicker fabric than the standard-issue concentration camp uniform.

To learn more about the badging system used in the camps, see our resource graphic Identifying Badges in the Holocaust.