Not to sound like "Old Man Yells at Cloud," but our society would be better served if we all paid a little more attention in history class. A well-meaning TikTok user who goes by the handle @smoothavocado wanted to create a symbol to unite Gen Z, something that people could get tattooed in order to show their unity as a generation. The problem is that the symbol she chose looks a hell of a lot like one used by a group known for committing mass genocide—the Nazis. 

@smoothavocado's original post. 

@smoothavocado's original post. 

The symbol—a capital Z with a line through it—is very similar to the Wolfsangel, a German heraldic emblem that had been used in coats of arms for generations before being adopted by elements of the Nazi party in the 1930s. The symbol is based on an old-style wolf trap consisting of two pieces of metal connected with a chain. The version used by the Nazis also drew inspiration from the Eihwaz rune.

The emblem of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division

The emblem of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division

Above you can see the emblem of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, a mechanized infantry division of the feared Schultzstaffel (the SS). This was one of many different divisions within the SS that used some form of the Wolfsangel in their insignia. 

In defense of @smoothavocado, the symbol that she chose doesn't carry the universal notoriety that either the swastika or the twin rune flag of the SS does. You have to go a little deeper into the symbology of the Nazi party to find the Wolfsangel. There is likely no way that she had ever seen the symbol used previously and this is an honest mistake. 

Upon realizing the connection, she removed the post and issued an apology. “I have been writing my Zs like that since elementary school,” she says. “So when I put that [design] on there, I didn’t think anything of it.”

In the post, she goes on to say she has received numerous death threats and that she has removed all of the shirts she was selling with the symbol on it. She has also removed all of her posts from TikTok and added a Linktree that links out to Wikipedia pages for Jewish History and the Wolfsangel, as well as a list of known hate symbols from the Anit-Defamation League. 

Hopefully not too many people heeded the call of @smoothavocado and got the symbol tattooed. Right now, if you search #GenZTattoo most of the posts are people explaining why you shouldn't get the tattoo, which is definitely a relief. 

This whole episode can be a learning experience. You should ALWAYS do a ton of research before putting a symbol on your body for life. A Google search is far less painful than laser removal and a cover-up. Cheaper too.