The ‘V for Victory’ Hand Gesture and Flag Usage During World War II

As humanity endured the darkest moments of World War II, a simple yet powerful hand gesture and flag usage rose to bring a glimmer of hope. The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture, born in Europe, quickly spread throughout the world as a symbol of resistance and resilience against oppression. Its widespread adoption was due in part to the popularity of Winston Churchill, who also championed the use of ‘V’-marked flags. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the story behind the iconic ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II, exploring how it became a timeless symbol of hope, freedom, and strength.

The Birth of the ‘V for Victory’ Hand Gesture

The Birth Of The 'V For Victory' Hand Gesture
During World War II, the “V for Victory” hand gesture became an iconic symbol of hope for the Allied forces. The gesture was created by holding up the index and middle fingers in a ‘V’ shape, with the palm facing outward. Its origins can be traced back to the Belgian and Dutch resistance movements who used the symbol as a form of passive resistance against German occupation. The symbol soon spread throughout Europe, with the French and Czech people also adopting the sign. The “V for Victory” gesture gained international recognition when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill began using it in his speeches. Churchill’s use of the gesture helped to popularize it among the Allied forces and inspired others to use it as a symbol of defiance against the Axis powers. The “V for Victory” gesture remains an enduring symbol of triumph over adversity and is still used today to celebrate victory in various contexts, from political elections to sporting events.

First Use by Belgium and the Netherlands

During World War II, the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage became globally recognizable symbols of international resistance against fascism and tyranny. The first use of this iconic symbol came from the people of Belgium and the Netherlands, who turned to this symbol of defiance and courage in the face of Nazi occupation.

In Belgium
The ‘V’ sign was first used by the Belgian politician Victor de Laveleye in a radio broadcast on January 14, 1941. He suggested that the letter ‘V’ could stand for both the French ‘victoire’ (victory) and the Dutch ‘vrijheid’ (freedom). He called on all Belgium citizens to use the letter ‘V’ as a sign of resistance against the Nazi occupation and as a symbol of hope for a free Belgium. The people of Belgium immediately adopted the gesture and enthusiastically painted the ‘V’ sign on walls and buildings across the country.

This simple hand gesture quickly became a powerful symbol of resistance to the Nazi occupation. It represented the determination and courage of the Belgian people in the face of adversity. The use of the ‘V’ sign also helped to create a sense of solidarity and unity among the people in Belgium as well as across Europe.

In the Netherlands
The ‘V’ sign was also used in the Netherlands as a sign of resistance against Nazi tyranny. Dutch resisters used the sign to show their defiance against the German occupiers. The symbol became so popular that the Dutch government began to adopt it in their propaganda campaigns. The government encouraged people to paint the ‘V’ sign on their windows and doors to show their resistance against the Nazis.

The ‘V’ sign quickly spread throughout the Netherlands, becoming a symbol of hope and defiance. The Dutch government began to print ‘V-for-victory’ posters and flyers, and the symbol was soon adopted by other countries in Europe as well.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage were immensely significant during World War II, representing the power of defiance and hope in times of adversity. The use of this symbol by the people of Belgium and the Netherlands not only showed their determination to resist Nazi occupation but also created a powerful sense of solidarity and unity across Europe. To learn more about the flags of World War II, visit the Flags of WWII page.

Spread Throughout Europe

As the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture gained popularity, it quickly spread throughout Europe. People were excited about the hope and positivity that it brought during such a dark time. The simple yet powerful message behind this symbol caught on rapidly. People could identify with the message of hope and victory that it represented. The V-sign became a unifying symbol of resistance, and soon it was seen everywhere in Europe.

Citizens on occupied territories under the Nazi regime began secretly painting the V-sign on walls and leaving it in public places to inspire their fellow citizens to keep resisting. It was also used as a way to show support for the Allied forces and the idea of a better future. Even prisoners in concentration camps would secretly make the sign to show their support for the Allies.

The V-sign was a powerful symbol that could be expressed by anyone regardless of language barriers, which made it an ideal symbol for spreading a message of hope and resistance throughout Europe. It quickly became a sign of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, and it helped people to believe that victory was possible.

As the V-sign spread throughout Europe, it also became a symbol of solidarity between the Allied forces and the countries they were liberating. The use of the V-sign and victory flags were a reminder that freedom was finally within reach. Victory flags with the letter ‘V’ on them were raised in liberated cities, and they became a symbol of hope to those who were still under Nazi control.

The spread of the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture throughout Europe is a testament to the power of symbols during times of war. It unified people and gave them hope for a better future. The use of this symbol was a way for people to express their resistance and support for the Allies without fear of retribution from the Axis powers. In many ways, the V-sign helped to keep the spirit of resistance alive in Europe, which was integral to the eventual Allied victory.

Popularization by Winston Churchill

During World War II, Winston Churchill famously used the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and popularized the movement. This gesture inspired hope and determination among the Allies and many civilians alike. Churchill adopted the ‘V’ symbol as a way to connect with the British people and to show solidarity with their American counterparts. He recognized its potential as a symbol of strength and victory. Churchill further popularized the ‘V’ symbol by using it in his speeches, writings, and images.

Churchill’s use of the ‘V for Victory’ symbol brought the movement to new heights and helped solidify its place in history. His public speeches often included the ‘V’ symbol. He implored the British people to use it as a sign of encouragement to each other and to the Allies. As a result, the ‘V for Victory’ symbol took on an even greater significance and became a unifying force of the war effort.

In addition to Churchill’s endorsement of the ‘V for Victory’ symbol, he also supported the creation and display of victory flags. The flags, which featured the ‘V’ symbol, were prominently displayed throughout Allied nations. Churchill recognized the importance of the ‘V’ symbol and how it could be used to spark patriotic fervor and promote unity. The flags became a common sight during parades, celebrations, and even in front of government buildings.

Churchill’s embrace of the ‘V for Victory’ symbol propelled its popularity and legacy. The powerful symbol became synonymous with the Allied victory in World War II. Its meaning continues to resonate, and the ‘V’ symbol can still be found on flags and in popular culture today. As Churchill once said, “The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting the Nazi tyranny.”

Internal link: To learn more about Allied Flags in World War II, visit /allied-flags-ww2/.

Victory Flags in World War II

Victory flags were a common sight during World War II, serving as symbols of hope and resilience in the face of hardship. Variations of victory flags were used by Allied forces, representing different nations and groups. The most notable feature of these flags was the ‘V’ symbol, which became an enduring icon of the war. The significance of the ‘V’ on flags was multipurpose, representing both victory and peace. These symbols were used in celebrations and parades following the war, and have become a lasting reminder of the sacrifices and courage of those who fought and died. The legacy of these flags continues to inspire people today, serving as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity.

Variations of Victory Flags

During World War II, several variations of the Victory flag were created. The British Union Jack was often used as a symbol of victory for the Allied Forces, with an added ‘V’ symbol to signify the ‘V for Victory’ message. The United States also created a variation of the flag using the stars and stripes, with a ‘V’ in the center. This flag was famously raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

On the other side of the war, the Axis Powers had their own versions of victory flags. The Nazi party used the Reichskriegsflagge, a flag with a black Iron Cross and white, red, and black stripes. The Iron Cross was initially used as an award for bravery, but became a symbol of German militarism and was used on the country’s military aircraft and tanks during the war. The Japanese flag, meanwhile, underwent a redesign during the war, with a red sun with rays extending outward on a white background.

These variations of the Victory flag were not only used as symbols of victory, but were also powerful tools for propaganda. During the war, flags were used to motivate soldiers and civilians alike, as well as to spread a message of hope and unity. The symbolism behind the various flags was carefully crafted to provoke emotions in those who saw them, ultimately serving as a call to action and a unifier for each respective country’s cause.

Significance of the ‘V’ on Flags

The ‘V’ sign on flags during World War II had a significant meaning that was recognized across countries and cultures. The ‘V’ symbolized victory and the defeat of the Axis powers, which were Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The symbolic meaning of the letter ‘V’ representing victory was first promoted by Winston Churchill to rally the British people during the war.

The use of the ‘V’ sign spread to other Allied countries and was quickly adopted. The symbol was not just limited to flags, it was widely used by people to show their support for the war effort and to signify their belief in ultimate victory over the enemy. The ‘V’ sign was a message of strength, courage, and unity that embodied the spirit of the war.

Interestingly, the ‘V’ sign has different meanings across cultures, but during the war, it was a universal symbol for victory and hope. The symbol was used on flags not only to boost morale but also as a reminder that the war would end, and peace would finally come. The use of the ‘V’ sign on flags has become synonymous with the end of World War II.

The ‘V’ sign was often accompanied by other symbols on flags, such as the national flag, or the Allied powers’ flags to show unity and support. The ‘V for Victory’ symbol was also painted on Allied aircraft to signify the crews’ determination to achieve victory against all odds.

The use of the ‘V’ sign on flags played a significant role during World War II by inspiring and motivating people around the world to work together towards a common goal. Today, the symbolism of the ‘V’ sign lives on as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for freedom and to honor those who served in the war.

The ‘V’ sign on flags during World War II represented hope, victory, and unity against the Axis powers. The symbol played a significant role in rallying people around the world to support the war effort and achieve ultimate victory. Its legacy has endured, and the ‘V’ sign remains a powerful symbol of the triumph of good over evil.

Usage in Celebrations and Parades

During World War II, ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag symbolized not only the hope for a better future but also the appreciation for the national pride and sacrifice of the soldiers. The usage of the symbol spread across the Allies, and it worked as a unifying element to commemorate victories during wartime. The gesture could be seen all around the world, particularly in celebrations and parades, where people would wear clothing items and accessories with the ‘V for Victory’ symbol, including buttons, cufflinks, and even umbrellas.

The parade in London on June 8, 1946, is one of the most iconic events where the ‘V for Victory’ was widely used. A million people gathered in the streets to see the victory parade of Allied forces, and the entire city was decorated with flags and banners, including the ‘V’ made of light bulbs on the façade of the building of the Ministry of Health and the flags with the ‘V’ put on the Houses of Parliament.

In New York, the ‘V for Victory’ movement originated from the office of the New York City Mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia. He initiated the ‘V-J Day’ Parade, on August 14, 1945, which signified the end of World War II and the victory over Japan. The parade was attended by thousands, with bands, floats, and speeches from political and military leaders. The parade was organized to coincide with the simultaneous event in London, where people danced and cheered wearing ‘V for Victory’ badges and clothes.

In France, Paris celebrated its liberation from the Nazis on August 26, 1944, where the ‘V for Victory’ gesture and the symbol appeared on flags, streamers, and posters. General Charles de Gaulle himself and his wife led the parade down the Champs-Elysées Avenue carrying a huge ‘V’ flag.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and symbol served as a powerful message of hope and determination during a time of despair and destruction. It was not just a mere symbol but a reflection of the collective effort of the people and the desire for a better world.

The Legacy of ‘V for Victory’

The legacy of ‘V for Victory’ still resonates today as a powerful symbol of triumph. During World War II, the gesture and flag usage inspired and uplifted people around the globe. The ‘V’ represented victory, freedom, and the defeat of fascism. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, famously used the ‘V’ hand gesture and promoted its use to rally his countrymen. The legacy of ‘V for Victory’ continued long after the war ended. It has inspired numerous movements and pop culture references, highlighting the enduring power of this simple but effective symbol. However, it’s important to remember the sacrifices made during the war and the true meaning behind the gesture and flag. The ‘V for Victory’ flag has been associated with the Allied Powers, but also used by Axis Powers, so the lines may be blurred at times.

Inspiration for Later Movements

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II continue to inspire various movements to this day. One notable instance was during the civil rights movement in the United States. In the 1960s, activists used the ‘V’ hand sign as a symbol of peace and unity during their protests.

Similarly, in the 1970s, the feminist movement adopted the ‘V’ sign to represent women’s liberation and empowerment. The gesture was displayed during marches and rallies, signaling a call for change and progress.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand sign has also become popular in pop culture, with numerous films and television shows referencing it. For example, in the popular dystopian novel and film “V for Vendetta,” the main character, V, uses the gesture as a symbol of rebellion against a totalitarian government.

Even today, the ‘V for Victory’ flag continues to hold cultural significance. It has influenced the design of various flags, including the flag of South Korea. The flag features a similar ‘V’ shape in its design, symbolizing peace and unity.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II have had a lasting impact on various movements and cultural representations. Its influence can still be seen in various forms of media and even in the design of national flags such as that of South Korea.

Pop Culture References

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II has become a significant part of not only history but also pop culture. The iconic ‘V’ symbol still appears in various mediums, and its influence can be seen in movies, TV shows, books, and music. Perhaps the most memorable pop culture reference is the 1970s rock band, Kiss, who incorporated the ‘V’ sign on their band logo and during their performances. The ‘V’ symbol has also made appearances in popular movies like V for Vendetta and Captain America: The First Avenger, where it is used as a symbol of rebellion against oppression and tyranny.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture has become a popular culture reference in video games too. Players can use the ‘V’ sign in first-person shooter games to signify a kill or victory. The ‘V’ symbol has been also used in several propaganda posters and advertisements, such as the famous Coca-Cola campaign slogan, “The pause that refreshes,” that included the ‘V’ sign with the slogan “Victory is a matter of staying power.”

On the other side, the Victory Flags have also been referenced in pop culture despite having lesser known significance as compared to the ‘V.’ The Japanese Rising Sun Flag, which was later re-designed after their defeat in World War II, features in many Japanese Anime and Manga. The Axis Powers flag, including the Nazi flag, has gained a lot of attention in various movies, TV shows, and documentaries. The flag’s symbolism and meaning have been studied and analyzed widely throughout history, providing a new perspective on the impact of World War II and its aftermath.

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II not only have historical significance but also hold a place in popular culture and have inspired many forms of art. The ‘V’ symbol and Victory Flags have been featured in many mediums and have influenced many artists’ works. Pop culture has helped to keep the memory of the events of World War II alive, reminding us of the sacrifices made and the struggle for freedom and democracy.


In conclusion, the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture and flag usage during World War II played a significant role in boosting morale and symbolizing hope for the Allied Powers. It originated from the Belgian and Dutch resistance movements and spread throughout Europe before being popularized by Winston Churchill in Britain. The gesture and symbol were also prominently used on victory flags of various designs and colors, which were commonly seen in celebrations and parades following military successes.

The legacy of the ‘V for Victory’ symbolism can still be felt today, inspiring later movements and referenced in various forms of pop culture. Its impact on World War II propaganda and morale-boosting efforts cannot be overstated.

However, it is worth noting that the symbolism of flags in World War II was not always positive, as evidenced by the flags of the Axis Powers. The Nazi flag, for example, was infamous for its symbolism and meaning, representing tyranny and racism. Similarly, the Japanese flag underwent a redesign during World War II to remove the rays which were associated with the militaristic government.

Despite these negative examples, the iconic image of the American soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima serves as a reminder of the patriotism and bravery that can be associated with flags during times of war.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the ‘V’ hand gesture stand for?

The ‘V’ hand gesture represents victory, as well as peace and unity.

Who first popularized the ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture?

The ‘V for Victory’ hand gesture was first popularized by the governments of Belgium and the Netherlands during World War II.

What was the significance of the ‘V’ gesture during World War II?

The ‘V’ gesture was adopted as a symbol of resistance against the Axis powers during the war. It was used as a way to express support for the Allies and show defiance against the occupying forces.

What inspired Churchill to use the ‘V for Victory’ gesture?

Churchill was inspired by the use of the ‘V’ gesture by Belgian and Dutch resistance groups and began using it himself as a symbol of British resolve and determination against the Axis powers.

What were some of the variations of the ‘V for Victory’ flag?

Variations of the ‘V for Victory’ flag included different colors and designs, as well as variations in the size and positioning of the ‘V’ symbol.

What was the significance of the ‘V’ symbol on the victory flags?

The ‘V’ symbol on the victory flags stood for victory over the Axis powers, as well as peace and unity among the Allied nations.

How was the ‘V for Victory’ gesture and flag used in celebrations and parades?

The ‘V for Victory’ gesture and flag were often used in celebrations and parades after Allied victories, as a way to symbolize the triumph over the Axis powers.

What later movements were inspired by the ‘V for Victory’ gesture?

The ‘V for Victory’ gesture has been used in various movements and protests for peace and unity around the world, including the anti-nuclear movement and the civil rights movement.

What are some pop culture references to the ‘V for Victory’ gesture?

The ‘V for Victory’ gesture has been referenced in various movies, TV shows, and books, including the popular dystopian novel and film, V for Vendetta.

What is the legacy of the ‘V for Victory’ symbol today?

The ‘V for Victory’ symbol remains a powerful symbol of hope, solidarity, and strength, and is still used in various contexts around the world as a way to express these values.


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