The letters V and Z: what they mean and what wars were used before

The letter V as a designation for the first time the world saw on the Eiffel Tower and the houses of docked Warsaw, the Nazi army left such marks during the Second World War. The Russian army during a large-scale invasion of Ukraine also uses this letter.

Historian Alexander Alferov told what the letter V actually means.

This sign has a very long history. It first appeared during the war between England and France, which is called the Hundred Years War. Then English archers began to act against the French knights. When the archers fled from French captivity, they showed the French two slightly spread fingers. Thus they declared: “we have more fingers, we can shoot from a bow and we will continue to fight with you.”

The next appearance of the letter V in history occurred during the Second World War. The German occupying forces began to paint this sign on the occupied territories as a sign of victory.

Interestingly, not only the Nazis used this sign. It was also a symbol for the opposing camp. The Belgian minister, who fled the occupation to Britain, spoke on the radio and called for the use of the letter V as a symbol of the future victory of the Allies.

Winston Churchill / Photo: Associated Press

This sign was made world famous by Winston Churchill. The British Prime Minister made it his signature gesture and symbol of victory.

Photo: Associated Press

Why Russians use this sign today, no one knows, most likely, even they themselves do not know. Because neither the letter Z nor the letter V until February 24 was used by anyone in Russia as symbols. This is most likely just a blind imitation, which is quite typical for Russia. Perhaps both symbols are technical markings that indicated the directions of the Russian army’s strikes. It was a situational choice, the letters were adopted because they are easy to draw.

Photo: Associated Press

The letters do not carry an ideological component. They were not supposed to be used for long, because they were planning a blitzkrieg. When this plan failed, Russian propagandists had to be involved in the case, who began to come up with some sacred meanings for these letters.

Read also:

World War II/Russian War in Ukraine: History in Photos

Companion of the dictator: the story of the strange relationship between Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun

Sponsors of Nazism: why history has taught the Coca-Cola company nothing

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