On Feb. 21, 1958, British artist and designer Gerald Holtom put a circle around the nuclear disarmament symbol, completing his design that would eventually become the globally-recognized peace symbol. A conscientious objector in World War II, Holton was commissioned by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
Holtom wrote about his design, a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters N and D, for “nuclear disarmament,” in a letter to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News: “I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing into a line and put a circle around it.”
On its 58th anniversary, the peace sign is seen everywhere in Turkey, a symbol of both hope and desperation amid the dire times the country is experiencing. On Feb. 10, 1,500 people gathered in Istanbul’s Şişli Community Cultural Center, almost double the number of people the center could take, to put a united front to end civilian, soldier and police deaths amid barricades, deportations and repression.