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Hate On Display: A Visual Database of
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Sturmabteilung (SA)
Sturmabteilung Sturmabteilung
Symbol Type


Symbol Description

Stylized letters "S" and "A" combined within a circle. The "S" is similar to a lightning bolt with an arrow on the bottom.

Also Known As

Brownshirts, Stormtroopers

Traditional Use/Origins

This symbol was an emblem used by Hitler's Brownshirts, the Sturmabteilung (SA), which were paramilitary formations used by Hitler to intimidate political opponents before and after his rise to power in Germany.

Hate Group/Extremist Organization

white supremacists, neo-Nazis

Extremist Meaning or Representation

See below


When some European governments began banning the display of Nazi or neo-Nazi symbology such as the swastika or SS lightning bolts, many neo-Nazis turned to less well known symbols from Nazi Germany. Even when banned, such symbols are still far less recognizable than swastikas, and thus are more discreet symbols of white supremacy (this is also true for countries that do not ban such symbols, such as the United States). One of the most common is the symbol of the Sturmabteilung (or SA; the English equivalent would be "stormtroopers"), often called the Brownshirts. In the 1920s, the SA was often the most visible manifestation of the Nazi Party. It was the Party's paramilitary wing, composed of thugs and ruffians who engaged in streetfighting against political opponents and in violence and harassment against Jews. It declined after 1934, when its leaders were murdered at Hitler's orders and it was largely supplanted by the SS.

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