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“Hold Up Your Hand!” 
Anti-Fascist Activist Artist John Heartfield
Anti-Fascist Activist Artist John Heartfield

Famous Anti-Fascist Image. 5 Finger Hat Die Hand. The Hand Has Five Fingers. Heartfield, 1928.

In 1928, Heartfield creates one of his most famous images, “5 Finger Hat Die Hand” (The Hand Has Five Fingers). It remains one of the most iconic political images of all time.

Heartfield’s son, Tom George Heartfield, told the curator this story. The KPD Party, the political party that opposed The Nazis, was searching for a symbol to link its five candidates. Suddenly, John Heartfield jumped up in a meeting. He  waved his hand, saying, “What is more powerful than the fingers of the human hand working together.” Everyone immediately agreed. Heartfield went to a factory and, as the workers left, he shouted, “Hold Up Your Hand!” Later, he sorted though hundreds of photographs to choose the exact one that was the most powerful image.

The text on the original poster is: “5 fingers has a hand! With these 5 grab the enemy!“ The “enemy” was Hitler and The Nazi Party. This simple image of a human hand with the power to create and destroy has resonated through the decade. This slogan inspired part of the text contained on the back of the System of a Down album: “The hand has five fingers, capable and powerful, with the ability to destroy as well as create.” A man in Guatemala had it tattooed on his back in 2011.

In 1928, Heartfield continues to design stage sets designs for the German Theatre. He creates some of his finest graphics designs for Malik-Verlag publishing.

Heartfield also creates pages and layouts  for the sports paper Die Arena (The Arena).

John Heartfield marries his second wife, Barbara Friedman.

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Five Fingers

5 Finger Hat Die Hand
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The Hand Has Five Fingers, Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), May 13, 1928.
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Street Art

The Hand Has Five Fingers
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In 1928, Heartfield creates one of his most famous montages, "5 Finger Hat Die Hand" to support the political party opposing the Nazi Party.
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The Judge

John Heartfield Judges The Reich
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Heartfield in a Berlin judge’s costume holding the unbalanced scale of justice.
Heartfield's Five Fingers Montage

5 Fingers Has A Hand

The Five Fingers Poster

Grab The Enemy (The Nazi Party)

John Heartfield’s grandson, Professor John J Heartfield, offers an Art & Politics, Politics & Art presentation to audiences in all types of venues. He was a featured presenter at 2016 DADA WORLD FAIR (The Collage Museum, San Francisco). Please write to him for more information.

Deutschland Über Alles curator answers questions