Three Arrows

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A widely publicized election poster of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1932, with the Three Arrows symbol representing resistance against reactionary conservatism, Nazism and communism, alongside the slogan "Against Papen, Hitler, Thalmann" Three Arrows election poster of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, 1932 - Gegen Papen, Hitler, Thalmann.png
A widely publicized election poster of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1932, with the Three Arrows symbol representing resistance against reactionary conservatism, Nazism and communism, alongside the slogan "Against Papen, Hitler, Thälmann"

The Three Arrows (German : Drei Pfeile) is a social democratic political symbol associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), used in the late history of the Weimar Republic. First conceived for the SPD-dominated Iron Front as a symbol of the social democratic resistance against Nazism in 1932, it became an official symbol of the Party during the November 1932 German federal election, representing opposition towards Nazism, communism and reactionary conservatism. [1]

Contents

Since its inception, the symbol has been used in many different contexts by a variety of anti-fascist, social democratic and democratic socialist organisations.

Weimar Republic

Cover of Chakhotin's book Three Arrows against the Swastika Cover of Dreipfeil gegen Hakenkreuz.jpg
Cover of Chakhotin's book Three Arrows against the Swastika
The anti-fascist Iron Front used the Three Arrows to deface the Nazi swastika. Drei Pfeile.svg
The anti-fascist Iron Front used the Three Arrows to deface the Nazi swastika.

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was opposed by both the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the Communist Party (KPD). In this setting, the SPD organizer Carlo Mierendorff recruited Russian exiled physiologist Sergei Chakhotin as the propagandist of the paramilitary Iron Front, and together they developed propaganda initiatives to counter the NSDAP and the KPD in early 1932. The two launched the Three Arrows as a symbol for the social democrat militancy. [2] The Iron Front was regarded as a "social fascist terror organisation" by the KPD. [3]

Mierendorf and Chakhotin launched the Three Arrows against the Swastika (Dreipfeil gegen Hakenkreuz) campaign. [4] Chakhotin authored a book by the same name. [5] The Three Arrows were thought to represent the struggle of the social democratic movement against reaction (referring to monarchism), communism and fascism. [6] [7] On a widely used and publicized SPD election poster for the 6 November 1932 Reichstag elections, the Three Arrows were used to represent opposition to the Communist Party, the monarchist parties, and the Nazi Party, accompanied by the slogan "Against Papen, Hitler, Thälmann". [1] [8] The three arrows also represented the three agents of working class strength: political (represented by the SPD), economic (represented by the trade unions) and physical (represented by the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold). [9] [10] [11] Chakhotin provides an even wider range of meanings, including the three elements of the movement (political/intellectual power, economic force, physical force), the three qualities demanded of fighters (activity, discipline, union), as well as the ideals of the French Revolution ( liberté, égalité, fraternité ). He also noted that "the figure 3 appears so often in human life, in thoughts, in personal life, and in history, that it has become a sort of 'sacred figure'." [12]

The aesthetic of the campaign and the Three Arrows symbol as such drew inspiration from Soviet-Russian avant-garde revolutionary artwork. [4] According to Chakhotin, his inspiration for the Three Arrows were a swastika that had been crossed over with chalk in Heidelberg. Per Chakhotin's argument, the Three Arrows and the swastika would always appear as if the three lines were imposed over the swastika rather than the other way around. [2] The Three Arrows were adopted as an official social democrat symbol by the SPD leadership and the Iron Front by June 1932. [2] Iron Front members would carry the symbol on their arm bands. [13] The slogan "neither Stalin's slaves nor Hitler's henchmen" was also used by the SPD in connection with the symbol. [1]

Use outside Germany

In August 1932, the Austrian Social Democrats adopted the Three Arrows as their combat symbol. [7] The Austrian socialist poet Karl Schneller dedicated the poem Drei Pfeile to the 1932 Austrian Social Democratic Party congress. [7] The symbol was banned in Austria in 1933. [6] During the Nazi regime, the symbol appeared on pamphlets of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria and was used in graffiti. [7] During 1932–1935, it was also used in Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom. [2] [4] After Chakhotin had been forced into exile to France, the symbol became used by the French Section of the Workers International. [2] The Three Arrows remained the symbol of the French socialists until the 1970s, when it was substituted with the fist and rose symbol. [14] After World War II, the Three Arrows became the official party logo of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) in 1945. The symbol had been modified to include a circle, and the symbolism changed to represent the unity of industrial workers, farm workers and intellectuals. [6] The Three Arrows remained a prominent symbol of the Social Democratic Party of Austria until the 1950s. [6] According to the modern SPÖ, the Three Arrows represent opposition against fascism, capitalism and clericalism. [15]

The current logo of the Social Democratic Party in Portugal, inspired by the German Social Democrats' Three Arrows Logo PSD cor.PNG
The current logo of the Social Democratic Party in Portugal, inspired by the German Social Democrats' Three Arrows

The Portuguese Democratic People's Party, created in 1974 in the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution, which put an end to the 48-year-long fascist dictatorship in Portugal, and renamed itself the Social Democratic Party in 1976, uses an adaptation of the Three Arrows as its logo since its foundation. However, its arrows are pointing upwards, and each have a different colour (previously black, red and white; the white having been replaced by orange). According to party members involved in the discussions about the choice of symbols, the Arrows were chosen as a way to differentiate the party from its main rivals' easily recognizable logos: The Socialist Party's raised fist and rose, and the Communist Party's hammer and sickle. It is also supposed to stress the resistance to and rejection of fascism and Nazism. [16]

The Three Arrows symbol is popularly used within the antifa movement in the United States, along with flags based on the symbol of Antifa in Germany. Anarchists and anti-fascists frequently use the symbol, usually against authoritarianism, fascism and authoritarian socialism. [17]

See also

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<i lang="de" title="German-language text">Roter Frontkämpferbund</i> Political party in Germany

The Roter Frontkämpferbund, usually called Rotfrontkämpferbund (RFB), was a far-left paramilitary organization affiliated with the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) during the Weimar Republic. It was officially a non-partisan and legally registered association. The organisation was banned as extremist by the governing Social Democrats in 1929.

Iron Front German paramilitary organization

The Iron Front was a German paramilitary organization in the Weimar Republic which consisted of social democrats, trade unionists, and liberals. Its main goal was to defend liberal democracy against totalitarian ideologies on the far-right and far-left. The Iron Front chiefly opposed the Sturmabteilung (SA) wing of the Nazi Party and the Antifaschistische Aktion wing of the Communist Party of Germany. Formally independent, it was intimately associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The Three Arrows, originally designed for the Iron Front, became a well-known social democratic symbol representing resistance against monarchism, Nazism, and communism during the parliamentary elections in November 1932. The Three Arrows were later adopted by the SPD itself.

Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold

The Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold was an organization in Germany during the Weimar Republic, formed by members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the German Centre Party, and the (liberal) German Democratic Party in February 1924. Its goal was to defend parliamentary democracy against internal subversion and extremism from the left and right, to compel the population to respect the new Republic, to honor its flag and the constitution. Its name is derived from the Flag of Germany adopted in 1919, the colors of which were associated with the Weimar Republic and liberal German nationalism.

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Anti-fascism Opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals

Anti-fascism is a political movement in opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. Beginning in European countries in the 1920s, it was at its most significant shortly before and during World War II, where the Axis powers were opposed by many countries forming the Allies of World War II and dozens of resistance movements worldwide. Anti-fascism has been an element of movements across the political spectrum and holding many different political positions such as anarchism, communism, pacifism, republicanism, social democracy, socialism and syndicalism as well as centrist, conservative, liberal and nationalist viewpoints.

Post–World War II anti-fascism History of movements and networks opposing fascism after WWII

Post–World War II anti-fascism, including antifa groups, anti-fascist movements and anti-fascist action networks, saw the development of political movements describing themselves as anti-fascist and in opposition to fascism. Those movements have been active in several countries in the aftermath of World War II during the second half of the 20th and early 21st century.

Antifa is a political movement in Germany composed of multiple far-left, autonomous, militant groups and individuals who describe themselves as anti-fascist. According to the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the use of the epithet fascist against opponents and the view of capitalism as a form of fascism are central to the movement. The antifa movement has existed in different eras and incarnations, dating back to Antifaschistische Aktion, from which the moniker antifa came. It was set up by the then-Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD) during the late history of the Weimar Republic. After the forced dissolution in the wake of Machtergreifung in 1933, the movement went underground. In the postwar era, Antifaschistische Aktion inspired a variety of different movements, groups and individuals in Germany as well as other countries which widely adopted variants of its aesthetics and some of its tactics. Known as the wider antifa movement, the contemporary antifa groups have no direct organisational connection to Antifaschistische Aktion.

Karl Höltermann was a German Social Democratic activist and politician. For just over a year, during 1932/33 he served as a member of the Reichstag. By trade he started out as a typesetter, but after his wartime experiences he re-emerged as a successful party-political journalist.

Carlo Mierendorff German politician (1897–1943)

Carlo Mierendorff was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) during the Weimar Republic. An intellectual activist and regional politician in the People's State of Hesse, he played a major role in the propaganda of the SPD and the anti-fascist Iron Front during the last years of the republic. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1930. After the Nazi rise to power, he was arrested and spent several years in concentration camps before being released in 1938. He then helped organise the underground resistance to the Nazi regime until his death in December 1943 in an Allied air raid on Leipzig.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Potthoff, Heinrich; Faulenbach, Bernd (1998). Sozialdemokraten und Kommunisten nach Nationalsozialismus und Krieg: zur historischen Einordnung der Zwangsvereinigung. Klartext. p. 27.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Dan S. White (1992). Lost Comrades: Socialists of the Front Generation, 1918-1945 . Harvard University Press. pp.  94–95. ISBN   978-0-674-53924-2.
  3. Lokatis, Siegfried (2003). Der rote Faden. Kommunistische Parteigeschichte und Zensur unter Walter Ulbricht (PDF). Zeithistorische Studien. 25. Köln: Böhlau Verlag. p. 60. ISBN   3-412-04603-5 via Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam. Thälmann hatte die SPD als „Hilfspolizei für den Faschismus“, als „verräterische und volksfeindliche Partei“, ihre Führer als „berufsmäßige Arbeiterverräter“, „Kapitalsknechte“ und „Todfeinde des Sozialismus“, die Eiserne Front als „Terrororganisation des Sozialfaschismus“ beschimpft und die „Liquidierung der SAJ als Massenorganisation“ gefordert. [Thälmann had insulted the SPD as "auxiliary police for fascism", as a "treacherous and anti-people party", its leaders as "professional traitors", "servants of capital" and "mortal enemies of socialism", the Iron Front as "terrorist organization of social fascism" and that the "Liquidation of the SAJ as a mass organization" was required.]
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  10. "Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold". SPD Geschichtswerkstatt (in German). Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  11. Posudin, Yuriy. Sergei Chakhotin - His contributions to social psychology and biophysics. Kiev, 2015. Artmedia print. ISBN   978-966-97453-1-6
  12. Chakhotin, Sergei (1940). The Rape Of The Masses. pp. 105–106.
  13. Georg Franz-Willing (1982). 1933, die nationale Erhebung. Druffel-Verlag. p. 20. ISBN   978-3-8061-1021-0.
  14. Annette Becker; Evelyne Cohen (2006). La République en représentations: autour de l'œuvre de Maurice Agulhon. Publications de la Sorbonne. p. 44. ISBN   978-2-85944-546-1.
  15. "Die Drei Pfeile". rotbewegt.
  16. Marujo, Miguel (4 April 2016). "O que explica as setinhas e a cor laranja do símbolo" [What explains the arrows and the orange of the symbol]. Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  17. Friedmann, Sarah (15 August 2017). "This Is What The Antifa Flag Symbols Mean". Bustle. Retrieved 16 April 2019.