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German jackboots from 1914
Leather jackboots for work
A modern American motor officer in jackboots.

A jackboot is a combat boot rising to at least mid-calf, with no laces, typically a leather sole with hobnails, and heel irons.[1][2] The term probably originates from association with the word jack or jerkin, as a common garment worn by the peasantry.[3]

Although jackboots date since before the Napoleon Bonaparte era and are still worn by many American police officers on motorcycles (motor officers), 20th century jackboots, or the word at least, has been associated with totalitarian motifs.

Contents

As an allegory

"Stalin's Boots", a monument in Hungary
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Totalitarianism

The word is commonly used in Britain as a synonym for totalitarianism, particularly fascism, although jackboots and similar types of footwear have been worn by various British regiments since the 18th century. Following the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared that the democratic rights of the Falkland Islanders had been assaulted, and would not surrender the islands to the Argentine "jackboot."

In 1995, National Rifle Association (NRA) president Wayne LaPierre sparked controversy when he referred to overzealous federal agents as "jackbooted government thugs"; the comment caused former U.S. President George H.W. Bush to resign his lifetime membership in the organization. The resignation of so public a figure as Mr. Bush prompted an open letter from the association to the former president to be published in major newspapers; the letter included a litany of alleged and settled cases of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms abuses and an assertion that LaPierre and the NRA were merely borrowing a well-worn phrase uttered by other public figures in their calls for reform of the agency, among them Representative John Dingell of Michigan. [4]

The boots are connected to fascism, particularly Nazism, as they were issued by the Wehrmacht and SS as part of the World War II German uniform before Germany encountered leather shortages. When goosestepping on pavement, the large columns of German soldiers in Marschstiefel ("marching boots") created a distinct rock-crushing sound which came to symbolize German conquest and occupation. A similar style of boot had been in use with German armies in World War I and before.

Modern Russian army sapogi

Jackboots can also be associated with the armies of the former USSR (called sapogi) and East Germany. Jackboots are still a part of the modern parade and service attire of the army of Russia and several other former Soviet states.

Oppression

The Russian expression "под сапогом" "under one's boot" translates as "under one's heel" and symbolizes oppression. The spanish expression "tener (algo o alguien) bajo la bota" or "to have (something or somebody) under the boot" has the same meaning.

See also

References

  1. ^ dress Colonial America - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Shoes: their history in words and pictures By Charlotte Yue, David Yue ISBN 0395726670, 9780395726679 - (Page 43)
  3. ^ "Jack", 11th Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica.
  4. ^ "revolution: nra vs bush". Boogieonline.com. http://www.boogieonline.com/revolution/firearms/enforce/nra_thug.html. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 

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