The logo for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament CND was designed by Gerald Holtom (1914 - 1985). He completed his design on the 21st of February 1958 for the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and the recently formed CND. Ready for the first London to Aldermaston, Nuclear Disarmament march 4–7 April 1958. Ever since it has become a iconic peace symbol. The design is made up of two graphic representations of the naval semaphore code that uses arm or flags signals to represent letters. Holtom's design corresponds with the semaphore alphabet code for the letters N & D the initials for Nuclear Disarmament. Also the designer later say “I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it” Gerald Herbert Holtom. Despite the designs remarkable success the designer was troubled by a second thought that he had not summited his best design. He was greatly inspired by ‘Goya’s peasant before the firing squad, and may have preferred the symbolic arms to be upright in a more active position like Goya’s peasant; or the tree of life. If the image is inverted then the figure has arms stretched upwards and outwards that would represent the semaphore signal for U for Unilateral, (or Universal) and the D remains for Disarmament ie. Unilateral Disarmament. The symbol adapts well in ways perhaps not anticipated by the designer. It could be seen as an nuclear rocket; it has been interpreted or used as an abstract representation of a B-52 (bomber plane) by the antiwar movement against the US Vietnam War. Holtom was a Royal College of Art graduate; a conscientious objector in World War II; he was working for the Ministry of Education in 1958. Holtom did this design work for free and did not assert his copyright and indeed also CND have not asserted their copyright in their logo. The message of peace is free, if not always acted on. The symbol has been adopted by many peace movements.
The peace symbol being a elementary basic design has occurred previously in history with various connotations dissimilar to the present ethos of ban the bomb or peace sign. However since the London to Aldermaston Nuclear Disarmament march 4–7 April 1958 the ethos of make peace, antiwar, has elapsed competing narratives from the past.
Photographer: designed by Gerald Holtom