The text on the poster translates to: “5 fingers has the hand! With these 5 grab the enemy!“ The “enemy” was the Nazi Party.
This image appeared on and inspired text contained on a System of a Down album: “The hand has five fingers, capable and powerful, with the ability to destroy as well as create.”
One hand has the power to cast a vote that can prevent a dictatorship. In 1928, the KPD (German Communist Party) was Germany’s best hope to halt the political rise of Adolf Hitler and The Nazis. John Heartfield was not a typical party member. He was considered too independent minded. He often clashed with the “group think” of a communist system.
Many of Berlin’s most creative and talented artists also joined the KPD. The same was true in the United States at that time. Later, those American artists would suffer because of the shameless Joe McCarthy hearings. John Heartfield also suffered when he was forced to return to the repressive communist government of East Germany (GDR).
Heartfield stood up in a meeting to declare there was nothing more powerful than the human hand when the five fingers work together. The hand was a perfect symbol to oppose Hitler (or any dictator).
John Heartfield waited outside a factory. He had his photographer take photo after photo of worker’s hands until the exact image that was needed was captured.