SINGAPORE — Star Wars fans around the world are marking “May the 4th Be With You” Day with festivities and even the Singapore Army has jumped on the bandwagon of the beloved movie franchise.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (4 May), the Singapore Army wrote, “Time to step aside Stormtroopers; meet our Army’s very own! May the Fourth be with you!” with an image of three Singapore Army soldiers firing against a Star Wars backdrop.
Since 2013, The Walt Disney Company, the owner of Star Wars, has officially observed the 4 May holiday by holding various events associated with the iconic franchise. Fans in many countries also mark the holiday with various events including in Singapore, where some of them wearing outfits of Star Wars characters will be patrolling Suntec City later today.
The day was chosen due to the famous phrase uttered in the Star Wars movies, “May The Force Be With You”, particularly by Jedi masters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.
Stormtroopers – typified by their standard white helmets and armour suits – are the shock troops of the evil Galactic Empire helmed by Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, particularly Darth Vader. They appear in the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), the prequel trilogy (1999-2005) and later in upgraded form in the sequel trilogy (2015-2019), the latter under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke and his commanders, such as Kylo Ren.
In recent history, stormtroopers have been associated with Nazi Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler. They were the shock troops under Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, who played a key role in Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and the 1930s. Their functions ranged from fighting the Nazi Party’s political rivals before Germany became a dictatorship under Hitler, providing protection for Nazi leaders and at rallies, to attacking Jews living in Germany.
Also known as the Brownshirts, due to the colour of their uniforms, the stormtroopers and the SA began to wane in power after the Night of The Long Knives in 1934, when top SA leaders were assassinated by Hitler and Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, top leaders of the Schutzstaffel (SS), which was previously a branch of the SA. In later years, stormtroopers also referred to the Waffen SS, the combat unit of the SS.
In the 2013 book “Star Wars and History,” edited by history professors Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Liedl, and reviewed by George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, Nazi Germany and its sinister history were mentioned as one of the key influences behind the franchise.
Referring to the imperial troops in the Star Wars movies as “Nazis”, Lucas said in the commentary of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V)", “The Nazis are basically the same costume as we used in the first film and they are designed to be very authoritarian, very empire-like.”
Star Wars fans would have noticed references to the Nazi era ranging from the SS-like helmet worn by Darth Vader to the victory parade in "Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV)" and the gathering of the villainous First Order troops in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)", with the latter two movies resembling the 1930s Nuremberg Rallies, one of which was immortalised in the "Triumph of the Will", a Nazi propaganda movie.
Many netizens have commented on the reference to “stormtroopers” in the Singapore Army’s Facebook post. One Abd Azim Halim wrote, “But Stormtroopers are bobo shooters…”. Another netizen, Adrian Kuah, referred to the Nazi era, “Really?? Sturmtruppen?? (Stormtroopers in German), Sturmabteilung??”
Others, however, liked the post with a Laurent Huang saying, "Have some fun. It’s just a movie. Good job to our army for being able to have fun and produce a nice poster!”
Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore reached out to the Ministry of Defence for its response to the post and was referred to a further comment by the Singapore Army on its upcoming Open House.