In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Symbols and Context

I was made thoughtful this weekend on another blog where the very talented individual was showing how he does aerial recognition panels for his early war panzers. He made the comment that in order to avoid showing the Nazi swastika, he had the corner of the flag flipped by the wind to obscure the central circle. Another friend when painting up some SS minions for his Wierd War 2 project also agonized over the Swastika armbands and opted for a black cross in the white circle.

Now I can understand if you want to show your work on the Lead Adventure Forum,which being hosted in Germany, causes problems for the owners of the forum if folks are showing Nazi iconography. It's illegal and they could be shut down or face jail time. Fair enough.

I was thinking of adding a few recognition panels to my early war Panzer Is and IIs. The splash of red would add some visual interest to all those tiny grey tanks. Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not a fan of Nazis etc. but if I'm going to have them in my wargames well then...I figure I opened the door when I opted to have WW2 Germans on the table. Especially if I'm gong to have them as minions for evil vampiric overlords and Cthulu demons. Seems to me a swastika is quite appropriate.

Of course, I have also opted to not do any units for 12th SS, which fought 3rd Cdn Inf Div in Normandy, mainly because I don't want to paint Nazi scumbags. I'd rather have some Volksgrenadiers instead. Or my Fallschirmjaeger. Really, they are nasty enough and still sport the cool camouflage.

A few weeks back when we having the recent ACW game, Mikey (who is one of the most liberally minded and gentle people I know) was making embarrassed jokes about all the Confederate flags in his Confederate army. This of course happening during the flag flap in South Carolina.

But to me it's apples and oranges. Displaying the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia when modelling it seems appropriate, in the correct context and inoffensive. But displaying the Rebel flag out of context (such as over a public legislature) is problematic.

Last summer I was stopped at a light in my small Ontario community and a battered pick up truck went through the other way. Big exhaust stack blatting, driver in a dirty white tank top (referred to as a "wife beater shirt") and a Rebel flag flying from the back of the cab. I'm sorry, maybe it's my Liberal prejudice but I automatically lumped the driver in with white supremacists and wouldn't have been surprised if he had SS banners at home.

When used out of its historic context the symbol takes on other meanings.


  1. Very thought provoking. Am trying to think of similar situations here in UK.

  2. You hit the nail on the head here in this phrase - "When modelling it seems appropriate, in the correct context and inoffensive." If the Swastika or Confederate flag is being displayed in an historical context, I don't have a problem with it, and I'm a Socialist. Likewise, where the symbol is openly displayed as a current political viewpoint, I tend to see red (pardon the pun). We had a similar experience in town to yours this morning - big truck, 'rebel' flag. Some people... :/