From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warning icon orange.svg This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

Fraktur could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

Fraktur examples.
Tomorrow is a mystery,
but yesterday is

Icon history.svg
Secrets of times gone by

Fraktur, also known as "Frakturschriften" or "Gebrochene Schriften" (literally "broken script" in English), is the collective name for a number of blackletter (script) typefaces used in Europe, particularly in Germany, from the 12th up until the 20th century. The historical roots of those typefaces can be found in Gothic art that was replacing the earlier Romanesque style in the 12th century. Just as Gothic art replaced round forms with sharp, rectangular lines, written letters transformed from round Latin letters to straight, angled ones. Fraktur has a high degree of serifs (ornamentations) on its letters, making the font difficult to read.[1]

History and connection with Nazism[edit]

The typeface style emerged in the 16th century and is just one of several Gebrochenen Schriften, although it is often used synonymously with that term. Other related typefaces are, for example, Schwabacher, Rotunda, or Textura.

Fraktur was the most widely used typeface for printed publications in German-speaking countries from the 16th until the 20th century. Its use started to decline somewhat in the late 19th century, when numerous publications, especially those that wanted to reach foreign readers, started to use Roman typefaces instead. In contrast to fraktur, Bauhaus artist Paul Renner designed the sans serif font "Futura" in 1924. Its lack of any ornamentation and clean lines made it easy to read and it remains popular.[1][2]

The Nazis revived fraktur, which they denominated the "German font". Renner was even arrested by the Nazi-led government in the 1930s for speaking out against fraktur and related fonts.[1][2]

In January 1941, Fraktur was banned in a Schrifterlass (edict on script) signed by Martin BormannWikipedia as so-called Schwabacher Judenlettern ("SchwabachWikipedia Jewish letters"). The reasoning behind this order is unclear, with some scholars citing Hitler's apparent dislike for Fraktur and related typefaces and others stating that it was meant to simplify communication in the occupied territories.

Although some singular writings continued to be published in Fraktur up until the 1960s, the Schrifterlass effectively ended the use of fraktur in Germany. However, they are used on neo-Nazi sites (e.g. Stormfront), who apparently love using Judenlettern now.

In modern use[edit]

Blackletter or Gothic fonts, including fraktur, are still in use in logos of newspapers, and in contexts that want to signify tradition (for example pubs and bakeries). It is also common in some subcultures, from hooligans and crime gangs (notably, MS-13Wikipedia) to rockers, and more recently even hip-hop, case in point the logo for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas with the "San Andreas" portion rendered in blackletter. Since blackletter fonts often look similar to laypeople, a Fraktur does not always reference Nazism. However, in subcultures, the intention is still to convey an edgy "German-ness", as the popular use of the metal umlautWikipedia might demonstrate.

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Font of Future Past: The Fraught History and Persistent Popularity of Futura by Kurt Kohlstedt (08.02.20) 99% Invisible.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Never Use Futura, Unless by Douglas Thomas (2017) Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1616895721.