Sunday, 27 September 2009
05:57:51 PM (GMT)
THE PEACE SYMBOL
The peace symbol was designed and completed February 21, 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a
commercial designer and artist in Britain. He had been commissioned by the Campaign
for Nuclear Disarmament to design a symbol for use at an Easter march to Canterbury
Cathedral in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston
The symbol itself is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters "N" and
"D", standing for Nuclear Disarmament. In semaphore the letter "N" is formed by a
person holding two flags in an upside-down "V", and the letter "D" is formed by
holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. These two
signals imposed over each other form the shape of the peace symbol. In the original
design the lines widened at the edge of the circle.
A conscientious objector who had worked on a farm in Norfolk during the Second World
War, Holtom later 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."
The fact that symbol resembles a bird's foot in a circle gave rise to alternative
interpretations, ranging from plain mockery of "crow's foot" and "American Chicken"
(a right wing hint that peace is for cowards) to a number of occult meanings from
conspiracy theorists, since a crow or a raven is a gloomy bird in various
The far-right John Birch Society has referred to it as a "broken cross" � accusing
the peace movement of repudiating Christ. It has also been called a relative of the
Nazi swastika � or the rune algiz inverted, said to mean "hidden danger". It
resembles the rune calc.