The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 37, Issue 3/4, 2021

Addressing Precarity: The New Prague School of Semiotics Visual Semiotics

Francesco Buscemi
Pages 329-350

The Aryan Race of Animals
The Role Played by Colour in the Visual Semiotics of Nazi Propaganda

This article analyses the role of colour in the representation of animals in Nazi propaganda. It demonstrates that colour, as applied to animals, was a communicational strategy of paramount relevance in setting boundaries and creating differences between the Nazis and their enemies. Drawing on propaganda studies, colour studies, and representational zoosemiotics, it semiotically investigates visual items published from 1923 to 1945. The results show that Nazi propaganda created an Aryan race of animals via colours. In fact, white animals always supported the regime’s ideologies; dark animals, conversely, very often symbolised the enemy (the Soviet Union, the Jews, and others). Semiotically, Nazi propaganda represented these animals as symbols, even though the links between signifier and signified were not shared within a community but only within the racist ideology of the Nazis..