File:Red Army flag.svg

Flag of the Red Army.


Soviet army conscript hat insignia.

The five-pointed red star (a pentagram without the inner pentagon) is a symbol of Communism and Socialism and represents the five fingers of the worker's hand, as well as the five continents (as traditionally counted). A lesser known suggestion is that the five points on the star were intended to represent the five social groups that would lead the nation to communism. In no particular order, they are: the youth (the future generations), the military (to protect and defend socialism), industrial workers (labourers), agricultural workers (peasantry), and the intelligentsia (to criticize and to improve the ideas and practices of life in order to attain communism). In general, it was the emblem, symbol, and signal that indicated the truth of the new order under the rule and guidance of the Communist Party.

Origins[edit | edit source]

The origins of the Red Star are found in the Russian civil war and the end of the First World War. Those Russian troops fleeing from the Austrian and German fronts who found themselves in Moscow in 1917 mixed with the local Moscow garrison. To distinguish the Moscow troops from the influx of retreating Russians the officers gave out tin stars to the Moscow garrison soldiers, to wear on their hats. When those troops joined the Red army and the Bolsheviks they painted their tin stars red (for Communism), thus creating the original Red Star. Another story has it that the Red Star was introduced by Jews in the Red Army. According to this story these Jewish members of the Red Army believed that the Revolution would create the Promised Land in Russia, although this story is believed to be dubious. This presumption is based on a common confusion among both anti-semites and anti-communists that the Jewish star (with six points) is similar to the Communist red star (with five points). Yet another claimed origin for the red star relates to an alleged encounter between Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Krylenko. Krylenko, an esperantist, was wearing a green star lapel badge; Trotsky enquired as to its meaning and received an explanation that each arm of the star represented one of the five traditional continents. On hearing this, he specified that a red star should be worn by soldiers of the Red Army[1].

The red star is or was used on several flags and coats of arms of communist states, for example on the flag of former Yugoslavia, and in some separatist and socialist movements, like the estelada flag in the Catalan Countries. Sometimes the hammer and sickle was depicted inside or below the star. Since the fall of the Soviet bloc, the red star has been banned in some countries (e.g. in Hungary, it is a criminal offense to publicly show or use the symbol [1]).

The Russian military still uses the Red Star and many former USSR member nations still have it on military equipment and uniforms. The Russian military newspaper is also called the Red Star (Russian Krasnaya Zvezda). Several sporting clubs from communist countries used the red star as a symbol, and these named themselves after it:

The red star has been used by many supporters of socialism in the US, perhaps the best-known contemporary example being Rage Against the Machine, a rock band of the 1990s. The band members used the red star as a symbolic representation of their own progressive ideas, and used their music to advocate for activism and social change.

A yellow star, particularly on a red field, often has the same symbolism. The Far Eastern Republic used a yellow star on its military uniforms (The People's Revolutionary Army), with the same symbolism as that of the Red Star. The flag of the People's Republic of China has five yellow stars on a red field.

The red star has been used by the recent revolutionary group in Mexico, the EZLN. Their flag features a black background with a solid red star in the center. It is also used by the Workers' Party (Brazil), a group with strong affinities with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Other uses[edit | edit source]

A five-pointed red star is also used by California, Heineken, Mozilla, Red Star Auto Works and Macy's, but without any socialist connotation.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hungarian Criminal Code 269/B.§ (1993.)

See also[edit | edit source]

bg:Червена звезда de:Roter Stern es:Estrella roja eo:Ruĝa stelo fr:Étoile rouge he:הכוכב האדום hu:Vörös csillag nl:Rode ster ja:赤い星 no:Røde stjerne nn:Den raude stjerna pl:Czerwona gwiazda ru:Красная звезда sl:Rdeča zvezda sr:Звезда петокрака fi:Punainen tähti

tr:Kızıl Yıldız (Sembol)

  1. (1)
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