Nazi salute

Nazi salute

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The Nazi salute, or Hitler salute , was a gesture
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body...

 of greeting in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 usually accompanied by saying, Heil Hitler! ["Hail Hitler!"], Heil, mein Führer
Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

["Hail, my leader!"], or Sieg Heil! ["Hail victory!"]. Characteristic of a cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

, it was adopted in the 1930s by the Nazi Party to signal obedience to the party's leader Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and to glorify the German nation and later the war effort. The salute was mandatory for civilians but optional for military personnel
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, where the traditional military salute
A salute is a gesture or other action used to display respect. Salutes are primarily associated with armed forces, but other organizations and civil people also use salutes.-Military salutes:...

 was retained until shortly after the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944. Currently, use of this form of greeting constitutes a criminal offense in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Depending on the circumstances, the greeting might constitute a criminal offense in Sweden as a hate speech
Hate speech
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic....



To perform the salute, it was customary to extend one's right arm straight in front of oneself, raise it at least to eye level, straighten the hand so that it is parallel to the arm and say emphatically, Heil Hitler!, or at least Heil! If one saw an acquaintance at a distance, it sufficed to simply raise the right hand. If one encountered a superior, one would also say, Heil Hitler. If physical disability prevented raising the right arm, it was acceptable to raise the left.
The form Heil, mein Führer! was for direct address to Hitler. Sieg Heil was repeated as a chant on public occasions. Written communications would be concluded with either Mit deutschem Gruß [With German greeting], or, simply, Heil Hitler.

In later periods Hitler himself used a modified German salute, not stretching his full right arm, but bending it while holding an open hand towards the greeted at shoulder's height.

Origins and adoption

The oral greeting
Greeting is an act of communication in which human beings intentionally make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship or social status between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other...

 Heil became popular in the pan-German
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

 movement around 1900. Hitler brought the greeting Heil from his native Austria, where it is still used between friends in some areas.

As a manner of address
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

, Führer was introduced by Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer
Georg Ritter von Schönerer was an Austrian politician active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a major exponent of German nationalism in Austria....

, who considered himself leader of the Austrian Germans. The salute gesture is widely believed to be based on an ancient Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 custom. However, no Roman work of art
Roman art
Roman art has the visual arts made in Ancient Rome, and in the territories of the Roman Empire. Major forms of Roman art are architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work...

 depicts it, nor does any Roman text describe it. Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era...

's painting Oath of the Horatii
Oath of the Horatii
Oath of the Horatii , is a work by French artist Jacques-Louis David painted in 1784. It depicts a scene from a Roman legend about a dispute between two warring cities; Rome and Alba Longa, when three brothers from a Roman family, the Horatii, agree to end the war by fighting three brothers from an...

(1784) seems to be the starting point for the gesture that became known as the Roman Salute. The gesture and its identification with ancient Rome
Culture of ancient Rome
Ancient Roman culture existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome. The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which, at its peak, covered an area from Lowland Scotland and Morocco to the Euphrates.Life in ancient Rome...

 was advanced in other French neoclassic art
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

. This was further elaborated upon in popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in plays and films that portrayed the salute as an ancient Roman custom. This included the silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

Cabiria is a silent movie from the early years of Italy's movie industry, directed by Giovanni Pastrone . The movie is set in ancient Sicily, Carthage, and Cirta during the period of the Second Punic War . It follows a melodramatic main plot about an abducted little girl, Cabiria, and features...

(1914), whose screenplay was written by the Italian ultra-nationalist
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 Gabriele d'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio or d'Annunzio was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, and dramatist...

, arguably the forerunner of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. In 1919, when he led the occupation of Rijeka
Italian Regency of Carnaro
The Italian Regency of Carnaro was a self-proclaimed state in the city of Fiume led by Gabriele d'Annunzio between 1919 and 1920.-Impresa di Fiume:...

, d'Annunzio adopted the style of salute depicted in the film as a neo-Imperialist
Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country in lieu of direct military or political control...

 ritual; and it was quickly adopted by the Italian Fascist Party.

By autumn 1923, some members of the Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 were using the rigid, outstretched right arm salute to greet their leader; and the leader responded by raising his own right hand crooked back at the elbow, palm opened upwards, in a gesture of acceptance. In 1926, the Heil Hitler salute was made compulsory. It functioned as a display of commitment to the Party and a declaration
Declaration may refer to:* Declaration , specifies the identifier, type, and other aspects of language elements* Declaration , when the captain of a cricket team declares its innings closed...

 of principle to the outside world. Yet, the drive to gain acceptance did not go unchallenged.

Some party members challenged the legitimacy of the so-called Roman salute employed by Fascist Italy, as not Germanic
German folklore
German folklore shares many characteristics with Scandinavian folklore and English folklore due to their origins in a common Germanic mythology. It reflects a similar mix of influences: a pre-Christian pantheon and other beings equivalent to those of Norse mythology; magical characters associated...

. In response, efforts were made to establish its pedigree by inventing a tradition after the fact. In June 1928, Rudolph Hess published an article titled "The Fascist Greeting", which claimed the gesture was used in Germany as early as 1921, before the Nazis had heard about the Italian Fascists. He admits in the article: "The NSDAP's introduction of the raised-arm greeting approximately two years ago still gets some people's blood boiling. Its opponents suspect the greeting of being un-Germanic. They accuse it of merely aping the (Italian) Fascists", but goes on to ask, "and even if the decree from two years ago (Hess's order that all party members use it) is seen as an adaption of the Fascist gesture, is that really so terrible"? Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 points out that Hess did not deny the likely influence from Fascist Italy, even if indeed the salute had been used sporadically in 1921 as Hess claimed.

On the night of 3 January 1942, Hitler said of the origins of the salute:

From 1933 to 1945

The compulsory use of the Hitler salute for all public employees followed a directive issued by Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German Nazi official serving as Minister of the Interior of the Third Reich. After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed...

 on 13 July 1933, one day before the ban on all non-Nazi parties. The decree also required the salute during the singing of the national anthem and the Horst-Wessel-Lied
The Horst-Wessel-Lied , also known as Die Fahne hoch from its opening line, was the anthem of the Nazi Party from 1930 to 1945...

. It stipulated that "anyone not wishing to come under suspicion of behaving in a consciously negative fashion will therefore render the Hitler Greeting". A rider to the decree, added two weeks later, stipulated that if physical disability prevented raising of the right arm, "then it is correct to carry out the Greeting with the left arm." On 27 September, prison inmates were forbidden to use the salute, as were Jews by 1937.

By the end of 1934, special courts were established to punish those who refused to salute. Offenders, such as Protestant preacher Paul Schneider
Paul Schneider (pastor)
Paul Schneider was an Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union pastor who was the first Protestant minister to be martyred by the Nazis. He was executed at Buchenwald.-Early life:...

, faced the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp. Foreigners were not exempt from intimidation. For example, the Portuguese Consul General
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

 was beaten by members of the Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 for remaining seated in a car and not saluting a procession in Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

. Reactions to inappropriate use were not merely violent but sometimes bizarre. For example, a memo dated 23 July 1934 sent to local police stations stated: "There have been reports of traveling vaudeville performers training their monkeys to give the German Greeting....see to it that said animals are destroyed".
The salute became an ordinary way of life. Postmen used the greeting when they knocked on people's doors to deliver packages or letters. Small metal signs that reminded people to use the Hitler salute were displayed in public squares and on telephone poles and street lights throughout Germany. Department store clerks greeted customers with “Heil Hitler, how may I help you?” Dinner guests brought glasses etched with the words "Heil Hitler" as house gifts.

Children were indoctrinated at an early age. Kindergarten children were taught to raise their hand to the proper height by hanging their lunch bags across the raised arm of their teacher. At the beginning of first grade primers was a lesson on how to use the greeting. The greeting found its way into fairy tales, including classics like Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault or Little Briar Rose by the Brothers Grimm is a classic fairytale involving a beautiful princess, enchantment, and a handsome prince...

. Students and teachers would salute each other at the beginning and end of the school day, between classes, or whenever an adult entered the classroom.

Some athletes used the Nazi salute in the opening ceremony of the 1936 Berlin Olympics
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

 as they passed by Adolf Hitler in the reviewing stand. This was done by delegates from Afghanistan, Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

, Bulgaria, Bolivia, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy and Turkey. The Bulgarian athletes performed the Nazi salute and broke into a goose-step; Turkish athletes maintained the salute all around the track. There is some confusion over the use of the salute, since the stiff-arm Nazi salute could have been mistaken for an Olympic salute, with the right arm held out at a slight angle to the right from the shoulder. According to the American sportswriter Jeremy Schaap
Jeremy Schaap
Jeremy Schaap is an American sportswriter, television reporter, and author. Schaap is a six-time Emmy Award winner for his work on ESPN's E:60, SportsCenter, and Outside the Lines.-Biography:...

, only half of the athletes from Austria performed a Nazi salute, while the other half gave an Olympic salute. According to the historian Richard Mandell, there are conflicting reports on whether athletes from France performed a Nazi salute or an Olympic Salute.

The Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 refused to adopt the Hitler salute and was able for a time to maintain its own customs. A compromise edict from the Reich Defense Ministry, released on 19 September 1933, required the Hitler salute of soldiers and uniformed civil servants while singing the Horst Wessel Lied and national anthem, and in non-military encounters both within and outside the Wehrmacht (for example, when greeting members of the civilian government). At all other times they were to use their traditional salutes. Only after the 20 July Plot in 1944 were the military forces of the Third Reich ordered to replace the standard military salute with the Hitler salute. The order went into effect on 24 July 1944, four days after the attempt on Hitler's life in Rastenburg
Kętrzyn , is a town in northeastern Poland with 28,351 inhabitants . Situated in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship , Kętrzyn was previously in Olsztyn Voivodeship . It is the capital of Kętrzyn County...


On the night of 3 January 1942, Hitler stated the following about the compromise edict of 1933:

Despite indoctrination and punishment, the salute was ridiculed by some people. Since "heil" is also the imperative of the German verb "heilen" ("to heal"), a common joke in Nazi Germany was to reply with "Is he sick?", "Am I a doctor?", or "You heal him!" Jokes were also made by distorting the phrase. So for example Heil Hitler might become Ein Liter ("One liter"). Cabaret performer Karl Valentin
Karl Valentin
Karl Valentin was a Bavarian comedian, cabaret performer, clown, author and film producer. He had significant influence on German Weimar culture...

 would quip, "It's lucky that Hitler's name wasn't 'Kräuter'. Otherwise, we'd have to go around yelling Heilkräuter ('medicinal herbs')".

Satirical use of the salute dates back to anti-Nazi propaganda in Germany before 1933. In 1932, photomontage
Photomontage is the process and result of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. A similar method, although one that does not...

 artist John Heartfield
John Heartfield
John Heartfield is the anglicized name of the German photomontage artist Helmut Herzfeld...

 used Hitler's modified version, with the hand bent over the shoulder, in a poster that linked Hitler to Big Business
Big Business
Big business is a term used to describe large corporations, in either an individual or collective sense. The term first came into use in a symbolic sense subsequent to the American Civil War, particularly after 1880, in connection with the combination movement that began in American business at...

. A giant figure representing right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 capitalists stands behind Hitler, placing money in his hand, suggesting 'backhand' donations. The caption is, "the meaning of the Hitler salute" and "Millions stand behind me".

Sieg Heil

Sieg Heil was a ritualistic chant used at mass rallies, where enthusiastic crowds answered Heil to the call of Sieg ("victory"). For example, at the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, Rudolf Hess ends his climactic speech with, "The Party is Hitler. But Hitler is Germany, just as Germany is Hitler. Hitler! Sieg Heil!" At his total war speech
Sportpalast speech
The Sportpalast or total war speech was a speech delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II had turned against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.It is...

 delivered in 1943, audiences shouted Sieg Heil as Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 solicited from them "a kind of plebiscitary 'Ja' to self destruction in a war which Germany could by now neither win nor end through negotiated peace".
In correspondence with high-ranking nazi officials, letters were usually signed with "Heil Hitler".

On 11 March 1945, less than two months before the capitulation of Nazi Germany, a memorial for the dead of the war was held in Marktschellenberg
Marktschellenberg is a municipality in the district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria in Germany....

, a small town near Hitler's Berghof residence. The historian Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 reports, "When the leader of the Wehrmacht unit at the end of his speech called for a Sieg Heil for the Fuhrer, it was returned neither by the Wehrmacht present, nor by the Volkssturm
The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

, nor by the spectators of the civilian population who had turned up. This silence of the masses... probably reflects better than anything else, the attitudes of the population."

The Swing Kids
Swing Kids
The Swing Kids were a group of jazz and swing lovers in Germany in the 1930s, mainly in Hamburg and Berlin. They were composed of 14- to 18-year-old boys and girls in high school, most of them middle- or upper-class students, but some apprentice workers as well...

  were a group of middle-class teenagers who consciously separated themselves from Nazism and its culture, greeting each other with 'Swing-Heil!' and addressing one another as 'old-hot-boy'. This playful behaviour was dangerous for participants in the subculture; on 2 January 1942, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 ordered that the leaders be put in concentration camps to be drilled and beaten.

Reactions outside Nazi Germany

In England, the cartoonist David Low caricatured members of the Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 during Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

 in 1934 –with their hands raised to surrender– with the caption "They salute with both hands now".

In the United States, Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

 produced and directed a comedy film
Comedy film
Comedy film is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. They are designed to elicit laughter from the audience. Comedies are mostly light-hearted dramas and are made to amuse and entertain the audiences...

 called The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator is a comedy film by Charlie Chaplin released in October 1940. Like most Chaplin films, he wrote, produced, and directed, in addition to starring as the lead. Having been the only Hollywood film maker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, this was...

that satirised Adolf Hitler and Nazism and portrayed the protagonist, Adenoid Hynkel, as ridiculously obsessed with the salute. For instance, when he passes the famous statues of The Thinker
The Thinker
The Thinker is a bronze and marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin, whose first cast, of 1902, is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris; there are some twenty other original castings as well as various other versions, studies, and posthumous castings. It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a...

and Venus de Milo
Venus de Milo
Aphrodite of Milos , better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created at some time between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly...

, they appear in a saluting posture. At the film's first release in October 1940, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. After America entered the war, Spike Jones
Spike Jones
Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny and other Warner Brothers cartoon characters, performed a drunken, hiccuping verse for 1942's "Clink! Clink! Another Drink"...

 released the derisory song "Der Führer's Face", in which Heil was accompanied throughout by blowing a raspberry
Blowing a raspberry
Blowing a raspberry or strawberry or making a Bronx cheer is to make a noise signifying derision, real or feigned. It is made by placing the tongue between the lips and blowing, making a sound redolent of flatulence. In the terminology of phonetics, this sound can be described as an unvoiced...


Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute
Bellamy salute
The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the "flag salute"...

 in the United States and the Nazi salute, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942...

 and the national anthem
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

 in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute. This was done when Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 officially adopted the Flag Code
United States Flag Code
The United States Flag Code establishes advisory rules for display and care of the flag of the United States. It is Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code . This is a U.S. federal law, but there is no penalty for failure to comply with it and it is not widely enforced—indeed, the U.S...

 on 22 June 1942.


Today in Germany, Nazi salutes in written form, vocally, and even straight-extending the right arm with or without the phrase, are forbidden. It is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years of prison (Strafgesetzbuch section 86a). Usage for art, teaching and science is exempt from punishment unless "the existence of an insult results from the form of the utterance or the circumstances under which it occurred". Use of the salute has also been forbidden by law in Austria since the end of World War II.

Usage that is "ironic and clearly critical of the Hitler Greeting" is exempt, and this exemption has led to legal debates as to what constitutes ironic use of the salute. One recent case involved Prince Albrecht of Hanover, who was brought to court after using the gesture as a commentary on the behavior of an overly zealous airport baggage inspector. On 23 November 2007, the Amtsgericht
Amtsgericht is German for Local District Court, situated in Germany in almost every larger capital of a rural district.It mainly acts in Civil and Criminal law affairs. It forms the lowest level of the so-called ordinary jurisdiction of the German judiciary , which is responsible for most criminal...

Cottbus is a city in Brandenburg, Germany, situated around southeast of Berlin, on the River Spree. As of , its population was .- History :...

 sentenced Horst Mahler
Horst Mahler
Horst Mahler is a former German lawyer and advocate of radical ideologies. He once was an extreme-left militant, a founding member of the Red Army Faction. Subsequently he became a Maoist and later shifted to the extreme-right. He was for a time a member of the National Democratic Party of Germany...

 to six months of imprisonment without parole for having, according to his own claims, ironically performed the Hitler salute when reporting to prison for a nine-month term a year earlier. The following month, a pensioner named Roland T was given a prison term of five months for, amongst other things, training his dog Adolf to raise his right paw in a Nazi salute every time the command "Heil Hitler!" was uttered.

Versions of the salute are used by neo-Nazis, who also use the number 88 to stand for "Heil Hitler" (the 8 standing for H
H .) is the eighth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The Semitic letter ⟨ח⟩ most likely represented the voiceless pharyngeal fricative . The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts....

, the eighth letter of the alphabet). One version is the so-called Kühnen
Michael Kühnen
Michael Kühnen was a leader in the German neo-Nazi movement. He was one of the first post-World War II Germans to openly embrace Nazism and call for the formation of a Fourth Reich. He enacted a policy of setting up several differently-named groups in an effort to confuse German authorities, who...

 salute with extended thumb, index
Index finger
The index finger, , is the first finger and the second digit of a human hand. It is located between the first and third digits, between the thumb and the middle finger...

 and middle finger
Middle finger
The middle finger or long finger is the third digit of the human hand, located between the index finger and the ring finger. It is usually the longest finger...

, also forbidden in Germany. In Switzerland, Neo-Nazis are usually seen to perform this salute. The Swiss Rütlischwur
The Rütlischwur is a legendary oath of the Old Swiss Confederacy, taken on the Rütli, a meadow above Lake Lucerne near Seelisberg. The oath is notably featured in the Wilhelm Tell drama of 1804 by Friedrich Schiller.-Early accounts:...

, the traditional oath of pledge sworn at the founding of Switzerland in 1291, was also made with the three fingers extended, although the arm was not fully extended as in the Hitler pledge.

Satirical displays of the salute continued after the war. A notable example is Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is an American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor and producer. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a stand-up comic and as a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows...

' comedy film The Producers
The Producers
The Producers commonly refers to Mel Brooks' series of comedic works about two con-men who attempt to cheat theater investors out of their money, only to have the scheme improbably backfire:...

, in which the Hitler salute is performed as a can-can
The can-can is a high-energy and physically demanding music hall dance, traditionally performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings...

 dance in the fictional musical Springtime for Hitler. Another example is Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

's Dr. Strangelove, whose eponymous character played by Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers
Richard Henry Sellers, CBE , known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian and actor. Perhaps best known as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series, he is also notable for playing three different characters in Dr...

 had a 'possessed' arm which would independently spring
Alien hand syndrome
Alien hand syndrome is a neurological disorder in which the afflicted person's hand appears to take on a mind of its own...

 into a Nazi salute (when not attempting to strangle its owner).

The border between satirical and offensive usage of the term "Sieg Heil" is sometimes ambiguous. On 1 December 2003, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala , generally known simply as Dieudonné, is a French comedian, actor and political activist....

 appeared live on a television show, disguised as a Haredi
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 (Orthodox) Jew making the Hitler salute and bellowing "Isra-Heil". He was cleared of charges of antisemitism in a Paris court after the judge said this was not an attack against Jews in general but against a type of person "distinguished by their political views". At the European Parliament election, 2004
European Parliament election, 2004
Elections to the European Parliament were held from 10 June 2004 to 13 June 2004 in the 25 member states of the European Union, using varying election days according to local custom...

, Dieudonné was candidate of the extreme left-wing party "Euro-Palestine", but left a few months after the election because of disagreements with its Jewish leaders.