Fascist symbolism

Fascist symbolism

As there were many different manifestations of fascism, especially during the interwar years, there were also many different symbols of Fascist movements.

Common symbolism of fascist movements

Organized fascist movements have militarist-appearing uniforms for their members; utilize paramilitaries for political violence against opponents; use national symbols, historical symbols of a nation as symbols of their movement; and utilize orchestrated rallies for propaganda purposes. Fascist movements are led by a "Leader" (i.e. "Duce", "Führer") who is publicly idolized in propaganda as the nation's saviour. A number of fascist movements use a straight-armed salute.The use of symbols, graphics, and other artifacts created by fascist and totalitarian governments has been noted as a key aspect of their propaganda [cite book |last=Heller |first=Steven |authorlink=Steven Heller (graphic design) |title=Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State |year=2008|pages=240|publisher=Phaidon Press |location= |isbn=0714848468 ] .

Italian origins

The symbol of fascism, in its original Italian incarnation under Benito Mussolini, and which gave fascism its name, was the fasces. This is an ancient Roman symbol of power carried by lictors in front of magistrates: a bundle of sticks, which included an axe indicating the power over life and death.

Until the adaptation of the fasces by the Italian fascists it had in modern times been a symbol used by Italian political organizations of various political ideologies (ranging from socialists to nationalists) called Fascio ("leagues") as a symbol of strength through unity. However, the adoption of the fasces by the Italian fascists has not completely tainted the symbol by association and the symbol appears on, among other things, the seal of the United States Senate, the coat of arms of France, the wall of the debating chamber of the United States House of Representatives and the coat of arms of the Swiss Canton of St.Gallen.

Nazi Germany

The nature of German fascism, as encapsulated in Nazism was similar to Italian Fascism ideologically and borrowed symbolism from the Italian Fascists such as the use of mass rallies, the straight-armed Roman salute, and the use of pageantry. Nazism was different than Italian Fascism in that it was explicitly racist in nature. Its symbol was the swastika, at the time a commonly seen symbol in the world that had experienced a revival in use in the western world in the early 20th century. German völkisch nationalists claimed the swastika was a symbol of the Aryan Race (essentially a race of caucasians with no ties to other races) who they claimed were the foundation of the German civilization and were superior to all other races.

As the Italians Fascists adapted elements of their ethnic heritage to fuel a sense of nationalism by use of symbolism, so did Nazi Germany. Turn of the century German mystic and author Guido von List was a big influence on Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who introduced various ancient Germanic symbols (filtered through von List's writings) most thoroughly into the Schutzstaffel, including the stylized double Sig Rune (von List's then-contemporary Armanen rune version of the ancient sowilo rune) for the organization itself.

Other historical symbols that were already in use by the German Army to varying degrees prior to the Nazi Germany, such as the wolfsangel and totenkopf, were also used in a new, more industrialized manner on uniforms and insignia.

Although the swastika was a popular symbol in art prior to the regimental use by Nazi Germany and has a long heritage in many other cultures throughout history and although many of the symbols used by the Nazis were ancient or commonly used prior to the advent of Nazi Germany, because of association with Nazi use, the swastika is often considered synonymous with Nazism and some of the other symbols still carry a negative post-World War II stigma in some Western countries, to the point where some of the symbols are banned from display altogether.

Militarist uniforms with nationalist insignia

Organized fascist movements typically utilize military-appearing uniforms with the symbol of their movement on them.

In Italy, the Italian Fascist movement in 1919 wore black military-appearing uniforms, and were nicknamed "Blackshirts". In power, uniforms during the Fascist era extended to both the party and the military which typically bore fasces or an eagle clutching a fasces on their caps or on the left arm section of the uniform.

In Germany, the Nazi movement was similar to the Italian Fascists in that they initially utilized a specifically coloured uniform for their movement, the tan-brown coloured uniform of the SA paramilitary group earned the group and the Nazis themselves the nickname of the "Brownshirts". The Nazis utilized the swastika for their uniforms and copied the Italian Fascists' uniforms, with an eagle clutching a wreathed swastika instead of a fasces, and a Nazi flag arm sash on the left arm section of the uniform for party members. For the military, a Nazi eagle was on the left arm section.

Other fascist countries largely copied the symbolism of the Italian Fascists and German Nazis for their movements. Like them, their uniforms looked typically like military uniforms with nationalist-appearing insignia of the movement.

Other regions

Many other fascist movements did not win power or were relatively minor regimes in comparison and their symbolism is not well-remembered today in many parts of the world.
* The chief symbol of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists was the Flash and Circle adopted in 1936, which represented the "flash of action" within the "circle of unity" that symbolized the all-important British State (which is also used by the People's Action Party of Singapore). The BUF previously used the image of a gold fasces superimposed on a blue circle, located centrally on a red background. The emblem was also disparagingly referred to as "The Flash In The Pan", particularly by opponents of Mosley. The "Superstar Shock" logo, as featured on the album "Antichrist Superstar" by Marilyn Manson also bears a very close resemblance to the BUF symbol
* The symbol of the Croatian Ustaše movement was capital letter U
* A prominent symbol of the Greek 4th of August Regime was the Labrys/Pelekys, the double-headed axe which Ioannis Metaxas thought to be the oldest symbol of all Hellenic civilizations.
* The symbol of Hungary's fascistic "Nyilaskeresztes Párt" (Arrow Cross Party) was, naturally, the Arrow Cross.
* The symbol of the Norwegian Nasjonal Samling was as golden/yellow sun cross on red background.
* The symbol of Salazar's Portuguese Estado Novo regime was a stylized version of the Armillary sphere and shield found on the national flag; its rivals in the Movimento Nacional-Sindicalista used the Order of Christ Cross.
* The symbol of the Romanian Iron Guard was a triple cross (a variant of the triple parted and fretted) - three parallel verticals intersected with three parallel horizontals, usually in black; it was meant to represent prison bars, as a badge of martyrdom. It was sometimes deemed the "Archangel Michael Cross", after the patron saint of the movement.
* The symbol of the Spanish Falange was the yoke and the arrows, which were also the symbols of the Reyes Catolicos. Each Arrow represents one of the 5 early kingdoms of Spain.
* The National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) used the Wolfsangel as its main symbol.
* The Brazilian Integralist Party used an upper case sigma
* The Turkish Nationalist Movement Party uses Three Crescents as their main symbol. Youth organization of Nationalist Movement Party; Home of Ideals (Ulku Ocagi) uses a howling wolf standing on a crescent.
* Russian DPNI (Movement Against Illegal Immigration), which is often considered to be a moderate and legal neo-Nazi movement, uses the black-colored road sign "Stop Prohibited" (similar to the Swastika a bit) as their main symbol.

Modern use

Neo-Nazi use

While some Neo-Nazi organizations continue to use the swastika, most have usually tried to shy away from such inflammatory symbols of early fascism, using substitutes that are nevertheless sometimes reminiscent of the swastika and other cultural or ancestral symbols that may evoke Nationalistic sentiment but do not carry the same racist connotations.
* crosses:
** Celtic crossndash David Duke's website;
** cross crosslet ndash e.g., Lithuanian National Socialist Party
** sun crossndash e.g., "Nordiska Rikspartiet" (Nordic People's Party), Sweden
* cogwheelndash "Magyar Népjóléti Szövetség" (Hungarian Welfare Association)
* runes:
** the "Algiz" rune ndash e.g., "Allgermanische Heidnische Front" (All-Germanic Heathens' Front)
** the "Odal" rune
** the "Sigel" ("Sig") rune ᛋ, especially on the Schutzstaffel badge, sometimes confused or used interchangeably with "Eihwaz".
** the "Tyr" rune ᛏ was the badge of the SA "Reichsführerschulen" in Nazi Germany
** Orkhon script letters - used by followers of Nihal Atsiz, e.g., "Türkçü Toplumcu Budun Derneği"
* the swastika continues to be used by groups ranging from the American Nazi Party, the São Paulo Skinheads in Brazil, to the "Nationalsocialistisk Front" (National Socialist Front) of Sweden
** "bladed swastika"ndash "Российское Национальное Единство" (National Unity of Russia)
* a triskelion-like symbol composed of three 7sndash "Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging" (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), Republic of South Africa
* the "Wolfsangel" symbol, as used by the SS and Hitlerjugend, as well as various Neo-Nazi groups
* the "Meandros" symbol, is the emblem of the Greek party Hrisi Avgi
* the "Labrys" (or "Pelekys") symbol, the Minoic double-headed axe, is sometimes used by some fascist Greek nostalgics.

Non-fascist use

Some of these symbols are also used by a variety of non-fascist movements and organizations. Most prominently the swastika, by virtue of featuring as a central symbol to both Buddhism and Hinduism.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) points out that:"Nazi Germany glorified an idealized "Aryan/Norse" heritage, consequently extremists have appropriated many symbols from pre-Christian Europe for their own uses. They give such symbols a racist significance, even though the symbols did not originally have such meaning and are often used by nonracists today, especially practitioners of modern pagan religions"in the entries on the Thor's hammer, the Sun Wheel, the Valknut and the Tiwaz, Algiz and Odal runes. [ [http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/Pagan_graphics.asp adl.org] , accessed 19 December 2007]

ee also

* Blackshirts
* Nazi symbolism


External links

* [http://flagspot.net/flags/qt-z.html Neonazi flags]
* [http://flagspot.net/flags/qt-z_sym.html Neonazi flag symbolism]

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