Journal Article

‘Hand to the Friend, Fist to the Foe’: The Struggle of Signs in the Weimar Republic

Sherwin Simmons

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 13, issue 4, pages 319-339
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/13.4.319
‘Hand to the Friend, Fist to the Foe’: The Struggle of Signs in the Weimar Republic

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The article focuses on the use of graphic signs in the political struggle between the National Socialist German Worker's Party and the German Communist Party during the 1920s. It first examines the Nazi swastika's relationships to a new ‘abstract and primitive’ style of trademark design that emerged in Germany during the First World War and to a discussion during 1919–20 about the Weimar Republic's new emblem. As the NSDAP's sign grew more prominent in public discourse, John Heartfield, who was trained as a graphic designer, sought to counter it through satire and emblems that he designed for the KPD. The most powerful of the latter were a series of images in 1928 based on photographs of workers' hands, which drew both on past emblems of worker solidarity and recent Surrealist photography. The clenched fist soon stood opposite the swastika as signs of the violent political struggle between left and right that marked the last years of the Weimar Republic. The article explores how practies of commerical graphic design became instruments of mass politics during the 1920s.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Art Forms ; Art Styles ; History of Art ; Industrial and Commercial Art

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