What Does Danny’s Tattoo Mean in American History X?

American History X is a powerful movie that delves into the complex issues of race, hate, and redemption. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when Danny, played by Edward Furlong, reveals his tattoo to his brother Derek, played by Edward Norton. The tattoo has a significant meaning that speaks to the movie’s larger themes.

The Tattoo

The tattoo on Danny’s chest reads “Deutschland ├╝ber alles.” It is a phrase that was used in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to express unity and patriotism. However, it became associated with Nazi Germany during World War II when it was adopted as an official national anthem.

The Meaning

In American History X, Danny’s tattoo represents his association with white supremacist ideology. It symbolizes his belief in racial superiority and his loyalty to the neo-Nazi movement. The tattoo serves as a reminder of Danny’s past involvement with hate groups and how he has been indoctrinated into their toxic ideology.

The Significance

Danny’s tattoo is significant because it represents how easily individuals can be radicalized by hate groups and become part of a dangerous movement that promotes violence and discrimination. It also highlights how hate breeds hate and perpetuates cycles of violence that can be difficult to break.

The Redemption

Despite Danny’s past involvement with white supremacist groups, he ultimately realizes the error of his ways and seeks redemption. He learns from Derek’s experiences in prison and begins to see people beyond their race or ethnicity. He becomes disillusioned with the hate group he once belonged to and decides to leave it behind.

  • Danny symbolically covers up his tattoo towards the end of the movie signifying that he is no longer associated with white supremacy.
  • This shows that people can change if they are willing to recognize their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions.
  • Danny’s journey towards redemption is a powerful message of hope and the possibility of overcoming hate and intolerance.


In conclusion, Danny’s tattoo in American History X represents his association with white supremacist ideology and serves as a reminder of the dangerous consequences of hate. However, Danny’s journey towards redemption shows that it is possible to overcome hate and intolerance if one is willing to recognize their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. The movie remains a powerful commentary on the importance of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness in our society.