Since the shooting at the Sikh Temple by Wade Page, there’s been a lot of discussion about the white supremacist subculture of which he was a part. Much of this discussion has involved the type of imagery and symbols white supremacists use to mark their dedication to their movements, to identify each other, and to advertise their politics.
Not many people seem to have been aware of how wide spread these organizations are, nor how their members usually present themselves. Therefore, I’m trying to create a complete (or as close as is possible) guide to the symbols, flags, slogans, coded messages, ways of dress, etc. that can be used to identify klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, and other white supremacists.
If you see any errors here, please let me know and I will correct them. Please reblog with anything I might have missed, and I’ll add it to the master list. Some of comes from discussions that I have with people who’ve had social interactions with white supremacists, who’ve been attacked by neo-Nazis, or who are involved in anti-fascist activism. Other things I’ve read or heard from various sources over the last few years. In addition, I did a lot online research for this guide, and those sources are included at the end. Anything that appears in quotations comes from one of these sources.
Sometimes these symbols are tattooed onto the bodies of white supremacists. In other cases, they’re used on patches, badges, banners or flags.
Here we go:
14: This stands for the 14- slogan written by David Lane, an American white supremacist, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
18: “Adolf Hitler.” (A is the first letter of the alphabet, H is the 8th).
33/5: “Used primarily by people involved in a Klan organization. The 22 represents three times eleven, with eleven representing the eleventh letter in the alphabet, ‘K.’ The 5 stands for the 5th era of the Klan or today’s Klan.”
4R: Used by Fourth Reich Skins. The 4 and the R are often joined.
88: “Heil Hitler.” (H is the 8th letter in the alphabet).
AB: Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang that can be found throughout the US. The letter often feature in prison tattoos.
American Front Symbol:
American racist skinhead group lead by David Lynch.
Aryan Nations Symbol:
Aryan Nations is associated with the Christian Identity movement. That’s the “the Old Testament was about Europeans and Jews were created by Satan and people of color are soulless ‘mud people’” folks.
BH: “Blood and Honor.” Nazi slogan. Various neo-Nazi organizations have gone by this name.
Black Boots with White Laces: Sign of a German neo-Nazi. (Is this also true in America?)
Black Sun/Sun Wheel:
Occult symbol, often appropriated by neo-Nazis, especially in Germany.
A symbol of “strength,” the Celtic cross is often used by racists, but is also frequently seen in non-racist contexts. The “blood drop” version is used by the KKK.
Confederate Flag (Stars and Bars):
Not everyone who bears this flag is necessarily a klansman/neo-Nazi/skinhead (though it’s a good bet that anyone seen with it is a least a little racist) but it’s an old standby for white supremacists.
Crossed claw hammers:
These hammers, which resemble a pair of goose-stepping legs, are used the Hammerskins, who are based out of the United States but who’s area of operation includes Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
I’ve been told that there are some German fascist organizations who also use two crossed sledge hammers.
Used by Nazi SS then and neo-Nazis now.
Often used with the intention of intimating people of color. Can be an imagine of an noose or an actual noose. Linked to the American tradition of lynching Black folks.
HFFH:”Hammerskin forever, Forever Hammerskin.”The Hammerskins are a multinational organization of neo-Nazis who typically take as their symbol a pair of crossed hammers.
Hungarian Arrow and Cross:
First used by Hungarian fascists but today this symbol is often used by White Supremacist groups.
Imperial German Flag/Reichskriegsflagge:
There’s nothing innately racist about this flag (of which there are many variations) but it’s often used as a stand-in for the Nazi flag, especially in places where it is illegal to show a swastika. Wikipedia says that “Outside of educational, artistic or scientific contexts, selling and showing symbols of Nazi Germany, including the Reichskriegsflagge, is illegal in Germany… This covers the version used after 1935 with the swastika. The original flag used between 1871 and 1919 can be shown depending on circumstances in different states of Germany. Because members of the far right have used the imperial war flag as a symbol, its use is considered to be a ‘breach of the public order’ in seven states, and flags will be confiscated. In the other nine states, any provocative misuse of the flag can be prosecuted as an ‘Ordnungswidrigkeit’ (summary offense).”
Fairly common symbol that is only sometimes associated with whit supremacists. More brazen fascists use the version with a swastika in the center.
Sometimes appears with another symbol in place of the swastika.
Norse/Runic Symbols (Life Rune, Ordin’s Rune, Valknot, Wolfsangel, etc):
Many of these runes were appropriated by the Nazis, and are still used by neo-Nazis today. HOWEVER, many non-racist groups, such as pagans, also use these symbols.
ORION: “Our Race is Our Nation.” KKK slogan, often appears on banners.
RAHOWA: “Racial Holy War.” “The expression “Racial Holy War,” signifies the battle that white supremacists believe will pit the white race against minorities and Jews and lead to Aryan rule over the world.”
ROA: “Race over all.” Neo-Nazi slogan, especially Volksfront.
Rock Against Communism:
Far-right music genre. Anti-Communist rhetoric is involved, but the main focus is racism, nationalism, anti-Semitism, and so on.
A shaven head is the most obvious sign of a skin-head. However, it should be noted that not all skin-heads are neo-Nazis/white supremacist; the skin-head look originated in punk and mod communities in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It was later appropriated by white nationalist movements, including “the National Front, British Movement, Rock Against Communism and in the late eighties Blood and Honor. Because of this, the mainstream media began to label the whole skinhead identity as neo-Nazi. This new white power skinhead movement then spread to other countries, including the United States.”
However, though there are some anti-racists skinhead organizations out there,
I am not aware of any that exist within the United States SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) is based out of the US.
SS Lightening Bolt Runes:
Symbol of Himmler’s special police.
Sturmabteilung (SA/Brownshirts) Symbol:
Most commonly used in countries where the swastika is banned, but occasionally seen in the US.
Thor Steinar: Thor Steinar is a German clothing line that is closely associated with neo-Nazis.
“A triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, or any similar symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry” (wiki). This is an ancient symbol that is often used by neopagans. However, far Right extremists have recently appropriated it, especially in Germany.
Unsere Ehre Heisst Treue: “Our Honor is Loyalty.” SS slogan, often seen on neo-Nazi banners as well as for tattoos.
Symbol for California-based White Aryan Resistance, but commonly used by many skinheads.
White Power/Aryan Power Fist:
One of those that you have to be careful about. A clenched fist is also a common Leftist symbol, but is normally rendered in black or red.
Can also appear-knuckles first, with the word “Skin” written across the fingers. The word “skin” is also tattooed across the fingers of racist skin-heads.
WPWW: “White Pride World Wide.” Commonly used as a greeting, especially online.