They Shall Not Pass

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Text on Button "They Shall Not Pass"
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Blue text on an off white background.

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The Shape
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"They Shall Not Pass" (originally "Ils ne passeront pas" and later "on ne passe pas" in French) is a slogan coined by the French General Robert Nivelle during the 1916 Battle of Verdun to encourage his troops to hold their line against the enemy. The phrase gained widespread popularity for the remainder of World War I as a French propaganda slogan and was featured on posters, postcards, and medals. Later, French soldiers assigned to the Maginot Line included the slogan on their uniform badges.

By the 1930s, "They Shall Not Pass" had been adopted by several different movements and evolved into a slogan against fascism. Dolores Ibarruri Gomez, a member of the Communist Party of Spain, used the Spanish version of the phrase, "No pasarán", to express direct opposition to Francisco Franco during the Siege of Madrid in 1936. British anti-fascists adopted this version of the phrase months later for their own protests. In the 1980s, "¡No pasarán!" came back into usage again during the civil wars of Central America and was used especially by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

As of 2022, "¡No pasarán!" remains a popular anti-fascist slogan in Spain.

Catalog ID CA0849