How the Führer salute changed the way American school children said the Pledge of Allegiance

Published by carolyn on Sun, 2015-08-23 18:30

Jewish children at the Irene Kauffman Settlement school in Pittsburgh in 1934 giving a straight arm salute to the American flag. Enlarge

“This was the way Americans saluted the flag at the time. In 1934, this would have been perfectly normal, strange though it looks to us now,” said Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor

The stiff-arm salute emerged in the US in the late 1800s, preceding both the “Nazi” salute and Mussolini's salute, according to Richard Ellis, professor at Willamette Univ., Salem, Oregon.

The commemorative flag raising was “all about nationalism,” said Maurine Greenwald, assoc. professor of history at U of Pittsburgh. "It’s a part of a period in which nations are heightening their national definitions and rituals and identification and history. The U.S. is no different in that regard.”

*    *    *

Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist minister and author wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge was accompanied by what became known as the Bellamy salute.

It began with the hand on the forehead, military style. One line into the pledge, at the first flag reference, it became a stiff-arm salute at roughly the same angle as the “Heil Hitler” gesture. Except that the palm of the hand was to tilt upward, facing the sky ... which was a bit difficult to do. Since it was easier to leave the palm facing down, most chidlren, and adults too, did just that.

When photographs of Germans giving the Führer salute began appearing on the front pages of American newspapers, "people were taken aback," said Ellis. "It was supposed to be the American salute, not the Nazis’." It's use began to diminish.

In December 1942, Congress got rid of the Bellamy salute for good, and decided that the entire pledge would be recited with a hand over the heart ... which makes it not a salute any more.

Full story here.


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No one should stand for nor chant the Pledge of Allegiance because it was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (that is one of the amazing discoveries by the historian Dr. Rex Curry. See the many books about his work on Amazon). Hannah Schwarz was misled by Timothy Snyder and Richard Ellis (Schwarz quoted them) as they are ignorant (or refuse to tell the truth). Ellis continues his error of claiming that Hitler obtained the gesture from Mussolini, and Ellis provides no explanation to Schwarz. Ellis also deliberately fails to point out that, even if his statement were true (which it is not) Mussolini's gesture came from the USA too, and that means the Hitler gesture came from the USA. Neither Snyder nor Ellis explain how the Bellamy gesture became palm-down. Dr. Curry does explain: Bellamy loved "military socialism" and he and Upham began the Pledge of Allegiance with the military salute. During the pledge it was extended outward to point at the flag. Confused children simply pointed the initial military gesture at the flag and that is why it was performed palm down. Hence, the military salute caused the "Nazi" salute via the pledge. Snyder and Ellis don't want to tell Schwarz about Bellamy's "military socialism" as that would show the similarity to Hitler's German socialism. Because of Snyder and Ellis, Schwarz is kept from mentioning that the Nazis did not call themselves "Nazis," and that they called themselves socialists and had views similar to Francis Bellamy and Edward Bellamy. Snyder and Ellis don't mention Edward Bellamy and thus Schwarz does not learn about Edward Bellamy, Francis' notorious socialist cousin, who visited Germany, and promoted the "Nationalism" movement. 
While Schwarz and other Americans remain amazed and dumbfounded by a single rare photo, Snyder and Ellis don't want to mention to her that the American Nazi/socialist salute was performed by public officials in the USA from 1892 through 1942 because then they don't want anyone to ask "what happened to the photographs and films of the American Nazi Socialist salute performed by federal, state, county, and local officials?" Those photos and films are rare because people don't want to know the truth (Snyder and Ellis). They also don't want you to know about the persecution, arrests, violence, and even lynchings that were inspired by the Pledge of Allegiance and the American Nazi socialist salute. Public officials in the USA who preceded the Adolf Hitler and the Benito Mussolini were sources for the stiff-armed salute (and robotic chanting) in those countries and other foreign countries. See Dr. Curry's work.

Very interesting, thanks. So hundreds of photos of respectable and "important" Americans have been deep-sixed so they won't be seen making the "nazi" salute? How funny.

In this photo, the stout man at the far right clearly has his palm facing down, as do many of the children. It seems that was the preferred style, no matter what the "designers" said. (You can enlarge the photo further for a closer look.)

But I think the NSDAP führer salute came from classical Rome, not the USA. Hitler would not have copied the United States.

Hitler absolutely would have copied the United States. Actually, the sequence is that he got it from Mussolini who much admired the way the U.S. had been indoctrinating it's people, starting with the youth, for decades using the salute to the Pledge.

Give us a source or two for that, please.

I believe the idea that the Nazi salute derived from the USA to be wrong.
The fascist salute is similar to the Spartan salute. The Roman salute to the best of my knowledge first crossed the right hand-palm down across the heart and then extended the right hand up. Palm downward. The Spartan salute just raised the right hand up, palm downward. This salute predates Christianity.

I have even seen a painting of the soldiers of Napoleon doing the Spartan salute. This was circa 1805.

In short, the so-called historians quoted above did not do their homework, or else they are completely agenda driven.

When I entered in first grade, in September of 1942, The pledge began with the right hand in a miltary salute. finger tips aver the right eye brow, arm at about half way from directly in front and to one's side. At the words "to the flag" the arm was extended toward the flag (and as I rememer ir) with the palm facing up  to distinguish it from the what was called the Nazi salute. One merely straightened one's arm out at that angle.

Congress had to pass a law in December 1942 (one year after the Americans went to war against Germany) to get people to quit using the straight-arm salute! They must have liked it.

There is actually no evidence of any ancient Roman salute (or spartan salute). The Roman salute myth came from the city of Rome in the state of New York (not Italy) where Francis Bellamy was born and raised (see the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry).You are correct that Congress eventually tried to cover up the USA as the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior (it was around late 1941? well into WWII). Many Americans did not immediately go along with dropping the stiff-armed gesture, and many opposed the change, saying "That is our salute" and "we did it first." and they were correct. 

It's funny you keep putting "historan" in front of Dr. Rex Curry's name. You can call him a researcher, but that's as far as I'd go. I don't think you are "Tiffany Bell" either.

However, Wikipedia says "no Roman text gives this description and the Roman works of art that display salutational gestures bear little resemblance to the modern Roman salute," according to Martin M.Winkler (2009). The Roman Salute: Cinema, History, Ideology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

It's interesting to learn, though, that the straight-arm salute was so widespread in the U.S. And here's a picture of Calgary, Canada Boy Scouts in 1933.

Thank you for your response indicating that wikipedia supports the discoveries by Dr. Rex Curry (although wikipedia is merely an anonymous bulletin board that is not cited by historians). 
Also thanks for citing that ohio author whose work supports Dr. Curry's.
And thanks also for the pic and comment about the boy scouts that also support Dr. Curry. 

What proof can you offer that the Italian fascists derived their salute from USA instead of the Spartan/Roman salute? Besides your opinion based on someone else's opinion?

The Italian Fascists claimed it was derived from the Roman salute whether real or imaginary. Being nationalists they were very much pro Roman historically.

This salute was frequently used by Napoleon's army in the early 19th century as well.

What proof can you offer that the Italian sociailst Mussolini derived the salute from a Spartan/Roman salute? Besides your opinion based on someone else's opinion?
The Italian socialist Mussolini did not claim it was derived from the Roman salute whether real or imaginary. that is why you have no citation.
This salute was not frequently used by Napoleon's army in the early 19th century as well. that is why you have no citation.

<p>I have already mentioned that I saw a contemporary painting of Napoleon's troops using the salute when I was in college studying for my history degree. Wikipedia even mentions that Napoleion had his troops use the salute which they believe was derived from the Romans.</p>
<p>Wikipedia under the Roman saluite credits the Romans for the fascist salute.</p>
<p>You have not answered my questions and I do not suppose you will. I asked you to prove a point and you have not.</p>

You have conceded your error when you state that you "saw a contemporary painting of Napoleon's troops using the salute when I was in college studying for my history degree." Wikipedia does not mention that Napoleion had his troops use the salute which they believe was derived from the Romans. Wikipedia under the Roman saluite does not credit the Romans for the fascist salute. Besides, even if your grab for wakipedia were true (which it is not) that would be a citation to wakipedia, which is an anonymous bulltetin board.  You need to stop being confused by wakipedia. You have not answered my questions and I do not suppose you will. I asked you to prove a point and you have not.

My definition of contemporary was to be in the same time frame as the actual events as I have spelled out. If that is the wrong definition of contemporary---so be it. But you are missing the point. The painting was from the early 19th century.
Wikapedia says clearly that the fascists claimed the salute came from the Roman salute. Numerous citations are listed as anyone who reads the article can attest to.
As did the French salute-from 18th century and early 19th century. The Wikipedia article quite clearly said that it derived from the Romans and gives citations.
All this is under the Roman Salute and is quite specific with numerous footnotes,citations, etc. The sources are numerous and should be just as inherently worthwhile as any other.
I understand the agenda here is to make it seem like the salute is only modern rather than historical. That way it becomes easier to condemn the fascist salute. After all, if it is ancient it seems completely normal.

From Trajen's column: click to enlarge

thanks that supports my points. no salute there. and no one has ever said so either which is why there is not citation to anyone who claims so.  It is a group of people gesturing in a crowd. there is no indication that it is anything else. You can grab any depiction throughout history of someone with their hand raised and declare "the Roman salute!" with no support from any source.

u give no specific citations or quotations because you have none. stop embarrassing yourself w wakipedia, it is an anonymous bulletin board. that is why you will not quote it or point to whatever you are claiming, because you know it does not say that.

<p>Citations are in the footnotes. And quit calling it Wakipedia. Did you even look it up?</p>

I want to make clear that the Richard who is participating in this comment thread is not the same Richard who has been a regular commenter on this site. I have asked this new Richard to add an initial or to change his name.

the citations are not in the footnotes. that is why you won't repeat them nor provide quotations. you know you are wrong. wakipedia says you are wrong.

It's not hard to believe at all. America had been indoctrinating it's youth for decades using the Pledge and it's salute. Before those guys were even born. As is pointed out here, it was widespread, just as it is today.
It would have been much more in the mind of any would be dicatators setting up their rituals than memories of visiting a museum or looking up some historical documents about Rome.

Adolf Hitler was born in 1889. The Bellamy salute began in the U.S. in about 1897, I think they said. So it wasn't before he was born.

Here's a quote from Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance, which shows he had the healthy racial views that were common at the time:

"[a] democracy like ours cannot afford to throw itself open to the world where every man is a lawmaker, every dull-witted or fanatical immigrant admitted to our citizenship is a bane to the commonwealth.”

And further:

"Where all classes of society merge insensibly into one another every alien immigrant of inferior race may bring corruption to the stock. There are races more or less akin to our own whom we may admit freely and get nothing but advantage by the infusion of their wholesome blood. But there are other races, which we cannot assimilate without lowering our racial standard, which should be as sacred to us as the sanctity of our homes."

It's easy to see why super libertarians Rex Curry and Tiffany Bell don't like him or his pledge.

Not quite. Bellamy became racist and anti-immigrant decades after he wrote the Pledge. At the time he wrote it, the Pledge was meant to promote nationalism for the express purpose of paving the way for the socialism that he and his cousin Edward envisioned. You do know that he wanted to word it so that it would end "with liberty, fraternity and equality." But he knew that the Superindents on the Pledge committee would reject it because they didn't believe that it was true for blacks and especially women.
In the 1890s, people were into states and individual rights. The concept of a ruling national government was quite foreign. In fact, when the Pledge was introduced, it was hightly suspect. Don't know why the Tea Party doesn't make doing away with the Pledge part of it's platform for the same reasons.