Schwurhand

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Ueli Maurer's oath of office, Switzerland

The Schwurhand (German pronunciation: [ˈʃvuːɐ̯hant]) is a heraldic charge depicting the hand gesture that is used in central Europe when swearing an oath in court, in office or in swearing-in. The right hand is raised, with the index finger and middle finger extended upwards; the last two digits are curled downwards against the palm. The thumb is shown slightly curled or raised.

Traditional use[edit]

The use of the gesture dates back many centuries. Recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican City use the sign when swearing their oath of allegiance to the Pope, in a ceremony performed on 6 May every year since the Sack of Rome in 1527. The use of the three digits is said to symbolise the three elements of the Holy Trinity.[1]

Depictions of the Rütli Oath or Rütlischwur, the legendary founding oath of the Old Swiss Confederacy in the 14th century, show the participants using this gesture.[2]

Heraldic use[edit]

Military use[edit]

It was also used by members of the Hitler Youth when swearing the Hitler oath.[3]

In the post-war era, the German Democratic Republic used an image of the Schwurhand with the motto "Never again!", an oath sworn by Communist prisoners at the Buchenwald concentration camp.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Vatican - The Roman Curia - May 6th: The Recruits Take their Oath of Loyalty
  2. ^ Swiss Club of Victoria - The Rütli Oath
  3. ^ Alfons Heck (1985), A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika, Renaissance House Publishing, ISBN 0-939650-44-4 (p.8)
  4. ^ Louise O. Vasvari and Steven Totosy de Zepetnek, Comparative Central European Holocaust Studies, Perdue University 2009, ISBN 978-1-55753-526-9 (p.82)