One of the most popular explanations and perhaps misconceptions of the peace symbol is that Gerald Holtom, a conscientious objector and nuclear disarmament activist , created it in 1958:
“During World War II he worked on a farm in England as a conscientious objector. The BBC quoted Holtom, “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.” Opponents of the peace movement sometimes are thrilled to see the hands downward which symbolizes peasants being killed by a firing squad….
…Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), a philosopher, historian, mathematician, and a member of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, supported Holtom’s claim. Russell wrote, “It was invented by a member of our movement (Gerald Holtom) as the badge of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, for the 1958 Aldermaston peace walk in England. It was designed from the naval code of semaphore, and the symbol represents the code letters for ND.’” The circle, representing the concept of total or complete, surrounds the N and D signifying total or complete nuclear disarmament.Read More: http://www.teachpeace.com/peacesymbolhistory.htm
Holtom’s wish that the peace symbol connotation of despair may have been aggravated in that perhaps his initial desire for the symbol to be prong up was converted into the symbol widely recognized today. When the peace symbol is inverted the letter “N” becomes the semaphore code for “U” which could mean “universal” disarmament or the less popular but courageous “unilateral” disarmament. While it appears reasonable that the modern day peace symbol comes from Gerald Holtom, this logic fails to address the fact that the symbol has been used for evil both in modern times and for thousands of years.
Whether the above interpretations of the peace sign is valid, and though compelling, it could also be erroneous with regard to the important concept of “intent” that marked Holtom’s efforts. … Constantine: “The John Birch Society, the fascist front organization started up after WW II with funds from the Nazi old guard, cannot tolerate left-wing “collectivism,” and has contrived a history of the peace sign intended to cast a pall over all things progressive by demonizing the ubiquitous symbol….There have been claims that the symbol has older, occult or anti-Christian associations. In South Africa, under the apartheid regime, there was an official attempt to ban it. Various far-right and fundamentalist American groups have also spread the idea of Satanic associations or condemned it as a Communist sign. However the origins and the ideas behind the symbol have been clearly described, both in letters and in interviews, by Gerald Holtom. His original, first sketches are now on display as part of the Commonweal Collection in Bradford.”… Read More: http://aconstantineblacklist.blogspot.com/2008/03/birch-society.html a
Dave Dionisi: The symbol has also been used to communicate support for communism. Bertrand Russell once said: “There is no hope in anything but the Soviet way.” Governments–both those who supported communism and those opposed to it–have perceived benefits in aligning the peace symbol with communist ideology. For people like Bertrand Russell, the author of the 1927 essay Why I Am Not Christian, the symbol represented not only a pro-communism meaning but peace without God….
The confusion about what the modern day peace symbol means is further clouded by the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey used the symbol as the backdrop for his altar. Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs explains the downward pointed fork represents the death of man. Placed in the circle the symbol means the total death of all people which is the exact opposite of what Holtom worked to prevent with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
While the anti-God, communist and death of man arguments are far from representative of the majority of people that carry or wear a peace symbol, they can frustrate the sincere efforts of peacemakers. Read More: http://www.teachpeace.com/peacesymbolhistory.htm