CND peace sign, how it was born


This video says about itself:

The internationally recognized symbol for peace (☮) was originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement by Gerald Holtom in 1958. The symbol 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 inverted “V,” and the letter “D” is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the centre of the peace symbol.

By Richard Maunders in Britain:

Our sign not for sale

Wednesday 14th May 2014

As CND wins a payout from Unilever for using its famous symbol, RICHARD MAUNDERS looks at how it was born

WHEN in 1958, British textile designer and peace activist Gerald Holtom sketched out his design of an emblem for the peace movement, the last thing he had in mind was that it should be used to promote a men’s deodorant.

The motif’s significance was to give the embryonic peace movement in Britain an identity that could be easily recognised and copied.

The design was based on the semaphor signal ND (Nuclear Disarmament) and drawn in the form of a “drooping cross” within a white circle.

Holtom deliberately used black and white because newspapers and television were mostly produced in monochrome at the time and the symbol would be more striking to the eye.

It was a stroke of genius, in simplicity and impact. The forerunner of the CND, the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) adopted the symbol for its first march against nuclear weapons in 1958.

This was at the height of the cold war when the US, Britain and the USSR were carrying out nuclear weapon tests.

Seven weeks before the first Aldermaston march Holtom came into the offices of Peace News with his designs.

The then editor of Peace News Hugh Brock wrote of that first meeting: “Gerald Holtom, with a single-mindedness of a prophet, was burning with conviction that the forthcoming march should have a symbol associated with it that would leave in the public mind a visual image that meant nuclear disarmament.

“He insisted that the symbols be mounted on very light lathes of wood so that the marchers could carry them easily and they be pasted on to a light card with waterproof adhesive.

“Quite frankly Pat (Arrowsmith) and I were sceptical about the symbol. Gerald was insistent it would sweep across the country, and of course, events have proved him right.”

Holtom was right beyond anyone’s imagination. The first march over Easter in 1958 began with nearly 600 marchers walking 52 miles over four days.

It ended outside the gates of Aldermaston with 10,000 people listening to the speeches and singing peace songs.

A new peace movement was born with a new symbol.

No-one could be in doubt about what it stood for — an end to nuclear weapons, unilateral disarmament and for peace.

The Times sneered at the time that the marchers were “Stalin’s puppets” but despite the distortions and demonisation of CND and its supporters, the peace movement gained immense support across Britain and the world, due in no small part to Holtom’s purposeful design genius and what it represented.

The fact that Unilever has pinched Holtom’s design in order to promote its new range of deodorants maybe an ironic twist to the story of a symbol that means much more to the peace-loving people of the world than tacky scent.

Holtom meant it to be used in the fight for peace and an end to nuclear weapons, not for the profits of Unilever.

Enhanced by Zemanta

32 thoughts on “CND peace sign, how it was born

  1. Pingback: Knitting against nuclear weapons | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: British pro-social justice campaigns during World War I | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: World War I dead, Hiroshima dead and British nuclear weapons | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Seven-mile pro-peace scarf rolled out in England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Iraq war re-start, satire | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: English university in nuclear weapons scandal | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: British author Doris Lessing spied on by secret police | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: British Labour party will vote on nuclear weapons | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: Calais refugees, report by an Englishwoman | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: NATO boss praises Turkish war in Syria | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: Lindis Percy, British Quaker peace activist | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: Nuclear weapons endanger the world | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: Brussels against Trump, NATO militarism, conclusion | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: British anti-nuclear weapons movement history | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: British anti-nuclear weapons movement’s 60th birthday | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: Trump to NATO summit, Brussels, 11/12 July? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: Vegan carrot cake recipe, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: Italy’s new government, anti-worker, pro-war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Pro-peace protest songs pre-Iraq | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: Nuclear weapons, from Hiroshima to Trump | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: Art Against War, exhibition in England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: ‘Expensive nuclear weapons making Britain bankrupt’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: Red Cross against nuclear weapons | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  24. Pingback: Anti-NATO protest in London, 2 April | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  25. Pingback: Photomontage from John Heartfield to the Iraq war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  26. Pingback: British Conservative government considers political left ‘terrorist’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  27. Pingback: COVID-19 disaster in Britain, update | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  28. Pingback: Cut war, not healthcare, John Pilger says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  29. Pingback: COVID-19 pandemic in Boris Johnson’s Britain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  30. Pingback: Coronavirus disaster in Europe, update | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  31. Pingback: British pro-peace artist Peter Kennard exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.