Teach Peace Moment: Peace Symbol History
Have you ever wondered where the peace symbol
symbol combines a
circle, a vertical line, and downward sloping lines.
the peace symbol was not always used in the spirit of love
and service to humanity. For this reason, the
Teach Peace Foundation
does not use the peace symbol.
popular explanation of the peace symbol is that Gerald Herbert Holtom (1914 - 1985)
created this symbol on February 21,
At that time Holtom worked with the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War. Holtom was a dedicated
peacemaker and graduate of the Royal College of Arts. During World War II he
worked on a farm in England as a conscientious objector. The
BBC quoted Holtom, "I drew myself: the representative of an
individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in
the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad."2
picture on the right shows one of Holtom's first sketches of the peace symbol.
Opponents of the peace movement sometimes see the hands downward
symbolizing peasants being killed by a firing squad.
Russell (1872 - 1970), a philosopher, historian, mathematician, and a member of
the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War,
aggressively promoted the arms down symbol.
The arms down peace sign made its first public
appearance in the United Kingdom during the 1958 Easter weekend Direct Action
Committee anti-nuclear march from London to Aldermaston. Russell was the march
organizer responsible for placing the arms down peace symbol on buttons and
interest in the peace symbol becomes visible when you know he was a member of
the British Fabian Socialist Society, a Brotherhood of Death secret society advocating an
anti-Christian New World
(to learn more the book
Defeating the Brotherhood of Death is recommended).
Russell wrote in his book The Impact of Science on Society
that a "Black Death" or bacteriological warfare
would be helpful every generation to cull the population. One of Russell's
frustrations was war had proved to be disappointing in dramatically reducing
When you realize Russell supported both communism and
peace without God, his service as a "Brother in Death" is
visible. Specifically, Russell wanted to abolish God, abolish representative
government, abolish private property, abolish food independence, abolish the
family, and abolish most people as part of his anti-Christian crusade.
downplayed his role and true interest in the peace symbol when he wrote, “It was
invented by a member of our movement (Gerald Holtom) as the badge of the Direct
Action Committee against Nuclear War, for the 1958 Aldermaston peace walk in
England. It was designed from the naval code of semaphore, and the symbol
represents the code letters for ND.'” The code ND for Nuclear Disarmament
is shown on the right.4
The circle, representing the concept of total or complete, surrounds the N and D
signifying total or complete nuclear disarmament.
primary interest in the symbol was to communicate defeat, despair, and disrespecting Jesus. Secret societies advancing
what they call "the Great Plan" enjoy seeing people,
especially young children, wearing the peace symbol with the arms down because
in their Luciferian religion they believe deception produces a dark energy helping
to pave the way for the Antichrist.
journalist and playwright Herb Greer adds
support for the Holtom explanation. He reported, “I was actually there on and before the first Aldermaston
march for which it was created. I visited Holtom, I saw the original
sketches and discussed it with him.”
Ken Kolsbun, author of the
book Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, reported that Holtom expressed regret in
not designing the peace symbol with the joyful lifting of arms towards the sky.5
For most of Holtom's life he would draw only the upright peace symbol. Holtom
requested that the upright peace symbol be placed on his tombstone in Kent,
England. As shown by the picture of his tombstone, his wish was ignored.6
wish that the peace symbol connotation of despair be changed to joy is
illustrated by the picture on the right. When the peace symbol is inverted the
letter "N" becomes the semaphore code for "U" which could mean
"universal" disarmament or the less popular but courageous "unilateral" disarmament.7
appears reasonable that the modern day peace symbol comes from Gerald Holtom, this
logic fails to address the fact that the symbol has been used for evil both in
modern times and for thousands of years.
This same symbol was used by
Hitler's 3rd Panzer Division from 1941 to 1945. The regimental 3rd Panzer
Division symbol. Soviet, Polish, and Hungarian citizens, having suffered from
the Nazi massacres, undoubtedly struggled with Holtom’s use of the symbol as a
thoughtful way to communicate peace. The symbol can also be found on some of
Hitler's SS soldiers' tombstones.8 Another flaw in the Holtom
creation story is the use of the symbol as an anti-Christian symbol by the
Saracens as early as 711 A.D.9
For the Saracens, the image placed on their shields symbolized the breaking of
the Christian cross.
For some the broken cross
was equated to a satanic symbol known as the raven's craw or witch's foot.
While Holtom may not have known the historical meaning of the peace symbol,
Bertrand Russell was a historian and member of the Fabian Society. A 1970
article in the American Opinion magazine claimed Russell knew the historical
occult meaning and intentionally selected an "anti-Christian design long
associated with Satanism."10
fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Nero (born Lucius
Domitius Ahenabarbus 37 - 68 AD), is remembered in history for persecuting
Christians. Nero's rule was so wicked he even had his mother executed.
The First Roman-Jewish War (66 - 70 AD) started during his reign and today the
term "Nero Cross" is the symbol of the "broken Jew" or "broken cross." The most
famous person believed to be crucified by Nero was the Apostle Peter. To
symbolize humility and unworthiness in comparison to Christ, Peter requested
that he be crucified with his head toward the ground. As a result of Peter's
death the upside down cross was used by early Christians as a positive symbol
symbol of the upside down cross changes its meaning when the person on the
upside down cross is no longer Peter but Jesus. Anti-religious and satanic
groups use the "Nero Cross" or inverted "Latin Cross" to symbolize everything
opposite of Christianity. Today this is clearly illustrated by "black metal" or
heavy metal music lyrics and imagery that communicate anti-Christian sentiments.11
An album cover for the black metal group, Mayhem, is shown on the left. The
first letter "M" in "Mayhem" and the last "m" depict the upside down cross. In
addition to musicians, film makers have reinforced the notion that the upside
down cross is an anti-Christian symbol as illustrated by The Omen in 1976
and The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005.
The symbol has also been used
to communicate support for communism. Bertrand Russell once said: “There is no
hope in anything but the Soviet way.” Governments--both those who supported
communism and those opposed to it--have perceived benefits in aligning the peace
symbol with communist ideology. For people like Bertrand Russell, the author of
the 1927 essay Why I Am Not Christian, the symbol represented not only a
pro-communism meaning but peace without God.12
The confusion about what the
modern day peace symbol means is further clouded by the
founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey used the symbol as the
backdrop for his altar.13
Rudolf Koch's Book of Signs explains the downward pointed fork represents
the death of man.14
Placed in the circle the symbol means the total death of all people which
is the exact opposite of what Holtom worked to prevent with the Campaign for Nuclear
While the anti-God, communist and death of man arguments are far from representative of the
majority of people that carry or wear a peace symbol, they can frustrate the
sincere efforts of peacemakers.
many people carry the symbol without understanding the history, we miss an
opportunity to address historical uses and move forward to reclaim the
symbol for good.15
The Focus Fusion Society is honoring Holtom's by putting the peace symbol
even the upward arms peace symbol is not problem-free. For example, the
white racist group, National Alliance, uses the upward arm symbol shown on
When you see
the peace symbol, with the exception of groups specifically promoting
violence, the person displaying it is attempting to communicating a message
of love. Rather than use the arms down or arms up peace symbol,
communicating love with kindness is recommended.
Sources and additional information:
Holtom, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Holtom.
The below is one of the first sketches of the peace symbol by Gerald Holtom. The
first sketches are on display in the Commonweal Collection in the Bradford Peace
Museum in England (see
http://www.peacemuseum.org.uk and note that Room 2 is dedicated to the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement).
There are a wide range of partially correct peace
symbol explanations. For example, for a peacemaker during the Vietnam War, they
may sincerely believe
the symbol is an abstraction of a B-52 and therefore the symbol is signifying a protest of carpet
bombing in Southeast Asia. Examining the symbol's meaning before the 20th
century is necessary for a more complete understanding.
Holtom also wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, explaining the genesis of his idea in greater depth: "I was in
despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in
despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of
Goya's peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line
and put a circle round it." See
Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society, Unwin
Hyman publishing and printed by Cox & Wyman Ltd in Reading, Berkshire, Great
Britain, 1952. Reprinted by Routledge in 1998, p. 116.
Bertrand Russell presented in 1927 via
the National Secular Society, “Why I Am Not A Christian” shines light on his
true beliefs. For example he said: “You could, of course, if you liked, say
that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God…that as a matter
of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God
wasn’t looking. There is a good deal to be said about that, and I am not
concerned to refute it.”
the BBC report, World's best-known protest symbol turns 50 at
6Gerald Holtom asked to have the
symbol in its upright form on his gravestone. That wish was ignored
by the letter-cutter. See http://diaphania.blogspirit.com/tag/gerald%20holtom.
the BBC report, World's best-known protest symbol turns 50 at
Nazi Panzer Divisional markings at
is any person in the Middle Ages that professed the religion of Islam. See the
Encyclopedia Britannica at
rir media (Satan Rides the Media), a
1998 Norwegian documentary by Torstein Grude explaining the anti-Christian
nature of black metal music and specifically Varg Vikernes church arsons in
Norway and murder of Mayhem band member
Marrs, Mystery Mark of the New Ages: Satan's Design for World Domination
(Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1988), p. 109.
Policy in Focus, A Sign of the Times, April 10, 2008 by Barry Miles
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5146. The Book of Signs by Rudolf Koch
published by Dover Publications, Inc. in 1950.
According to the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a Jewis man who
survived the World War II in Dresden, in
death notices of fallen German soldiers, their birth and death dates were
preceded by a and
which, according to Nazi orthodoxy, were runic symbols of birth and death.
The message of
love and unity can be powerful and
for this reason the Apartheid regime in South Africa attempted to ban the peace
For additional information, see
the Bertrand Russell archives see
Oliver Day Street’s,
Symbolism of the Three
(New York: George H. Duran Co., 1922), and Carl Liungman’s
Dictionary of Symbols
(New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1991), p. 253.) and
Other peace symbols are explained at
the Focus Fusion Society statement why they changed from an arms downward peace
symbol to an arms upward peace symbol at
Leaque (ADL) website online at www.adl.org/hate_symbols/groups_national_alliance.asp.
The ADL maintains a database of symbols of groups advocating violence. The
symbol is also known as the Yggdrasil" which is a symbol in Norse Mythology.
To access more Teach Peace information,