A History of the Swastika

by JoHarrington

On September 15th 1935, the swastika was unveiled as the flag of Nazi Germany. The symbol has been around since circa 10,000 BC and the name means 'to be good'.

In modern day Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Brazil, it is a criminal offense to publicly display the swastika.

Exemptions are made when the symbol is used in a religious context, particularly citing the claims of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples.

In 2001, 2005 and 2007, proposals were made to extend this law across the entire EU, but other member states voted against it.

The flag of Guna Yala was first altered, then changed entirely, because the meaning behind its ancient swastika icon had become tainted upon the world stage. The associations forged, from 1935 onwards, wiped away over 12,000 years of the swastika's history as a force for good.

The Swastika as an Historical Symbol for Good

Swastika (v): From the Sanskrit svastika - su (good), asti (to be) and ka (suffix emphasizing To Be). Swastika - to BE good.

Image: Swastika SchismNeo-Nazis, trying to side-step the ban on displaying the swastika in Germany and elsewhere, will tell the authorities that their icon is nothing to do with the Third Reich.

It's far more ancient than that.

They're Pagans reclaiming a past stretching back into antiquity. They're pulling back into the limelight a symbol found all over the mosaic floors of Imperial Rome, or the decorative pieces of Classical Greece.

They're waving loud and proud iconology from ancient Poland, Armenia and the Celtic nations. It's just a symbol from a Viking comb.

The fact is that they're right. They could just as easily gone for a long and venerable history of the swastika elsewhere. Perhaps as the four stations of the soul in Jainism, after all every one of the Jain temples and holy books have to display it. Maybe instead as the symbol of infinity for Zoroastrians, or prosperity in Buddhism.

Most of all, they could have reached into the millennia old traditions of Hinduism, wherein the swastika is as important as the cross in Christianity. Here it represents the face of God (the Brahman) watching the four directions of the world at once, while doubling as the icon of Purushartha.

But, of course, all of these religions have their heartlands in Asia, where the adherents aren't white Europeans. Not the kind of people embraced by Neo-Nazis.

Nor do those right wing racists get away with their pseudo-Pagan protests. The authorities aren't that stupid, particularly when these swastikas are wielded by people chanting anti-Semitic slogans.

This beautiful icon should still symbolize all that is good, prosperous, creative, lucky and divine. For tens of thousands of years it did. Then September 15th 1935 came along and the swastika was utterly trashed.

History Books about the Swastika Before Nazi Germany

Circa 10,000 BCE, an artist carved a swastika into a mammoth tusk in Ukraine. During the Neolithic Ages, another etched it into a British standing stone. Learn more.

The Swastika as the Flag of the Nazi Party

For much of the world today, the swastika means just one thing - Nazi and Neo-Nazi ideology, with its inevitable descent into the horrors of the Holocaust.

Since August 7th 1920, the swastika - encased in a white circle with a red surround - had been the flag of the German Nazi Party.

But until September 15th 1935, it was not the flag of the country itself.

The Weimar Republic had used the tricolor which once again represents the German nation today, and that continued into the earliest years of Hitler's rule.

Two things occurred that day. The first was the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped all German Jews of their citizenship. They became mere 'subjects' of the state and measures could be (and quickly were) imposed against them.

The second was that the Nazi Party flag was hoisted onto flag-poles alongside that of the German tricolor flag. The Bundesflagge und Handelsflagge didn't survive long beside it. Soon the swastika flew alone, no longer just a party's icon and colors, but representative of a whole nation.

The changing of the flag had also incurred a subtle redefining of its meaning, and that related to the Nuremberg Laws being passed that day inside the Reichstag.

It wasn't only the Jews stripped of all rights as citizens that day. It was anyone who was deemed to have non-German blood. Those who were classified as Germanic were declared Reichsbürger, which was specifically stated as having Aryan ancestry.

The swastika flew above them not as the flag of the Nazi Party, but as the icon of the Aryan people. It was then used in this context across countless propaganda pieces, from pamphlets, letter-heads, tapestries on walls, television and film media through to badges of office and/or belonging.

It became the symbol indelibly associated with the Holocaust. Displayed prominently in concentration camps and death camps, as an icon of Aryan supremacy over non-Aryan people.

The swastika was Aryan, and nobody disputes that. What would be faintly amusing - if the reality wasn't so horrific - is what it actually means, compared to what Nazis, past and present, erroneously believe it means.

Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Swastika Jewelry

The Swastika as the Symbol of Aryan Race

The Aryan people really do love the swastika. But they aren't who the Neo-Nazis think they are, and the swastika has an entirely different meaning.

Dozens of nations and people around the world should be furious with the Third Reich. Not only for the obvious reason, but for how our history was co-opted, changed and destroyed in an instant.

Celts, Norse, Slavs, Greeks, Chinese, Tibetans, most of the tribes of India, Hebrews... the list goes on. We all had the swastika there in our ancient iconology.

The very antiquity of the symbol is what drew Adolf Hitler to it. It implied a long-standing tradition for the Germanic people too, which - in fairness - they could claim. But not quite in the way that Hitler's dodgy grasp on history assumed.

To him, the Germanic people were the descendents and heirs of the Aryan race. White skinned invaders of India, who'd been so successful in their conquest that they'd lightened the skin of Indian people forever.

The swastika was an Aryan symbol. It had come from India, the very cradle of that superior force rampaging through the inferior races and subduing them, before moving to Germany and making sauerkraut.

Yes, I did get a little facetious towards the end there. But it was no more bizarre and completely false than Hitler's own version. Though granted, the swastika did come from India, amongst a whole lot of other places.

In truth, the Aryan people were mostly an invention of the British, as part of the propaganda machine justifying their expansion of the British Empire into India. Real histories - about the return of the Āryāvarta people (Indians too) to India circa 1500 BCE - were rewritten to make them white Europeans. Then loads of crap inserted on top.

Just for the record, the true descendents of the 'Aryan' race are the Gujarati people and their neighbors. Not the British, nor the Germans, nor the Austrians.

A Group of Aryan Men

Aden, Yemen - Indian Hindu Gujarati Baniyan (Merchants)

British Propaganda Aryans

West Aryan Types of Eastern and Northern Europe

Hitler Youth Nicking the Swastika as an Aryan Symbol

Fanfare of the Hitler Youth, Nazi Germany, 1935 (Photo)

"In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic."

- Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf p 496-497

As much of Northern India are Hindu people, then 'the Aryan man' really has struggled for victory under the swastika. But only because it's the symbol of the Brahman, Vishnu and the four streams of Purushartha. A peaceable, creative icon of infinity.

And the Aryan people would really like their pseudo-historian detractors to stop trailing said icon through the murk of violent racism now.

More about the Third Reich and the Holocaust

Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam survived the Holocaust, because Dr Mengele needed them for medical experiments. Today she is speaking with Wizzley.
The Holocaust subreddit was being run by neo-Nazis and Zionist Conspiracy theorists. Some on Reddit were desperate to take action, but how?
The old enamelware factory has a venerable history. Its story retold in the movie 'Schindler's List', this real world location is now an amazing museum.
Updated: 11/12/2014, JoHarrington
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frankbeswick on 05/23/2016

Nazism was a massive act of theft, an armed robbery on a vast scale, so stealing someone's symbols was well within the Nazi strategy.

Lilysnape on 05/12/2016

This was really interesting. I did not know the Swastika was ever used before Hitler.

JoHarrington on 10/08/2014

I'm glad that you thought so, and sorry that a symbol so sacred in your religion was so horrifically misused in Western Europe.

WriterArtist on 10/05/2014

Though we use "Swastika" in our poojas and many customs, I did not know the history and origin of the symbol. A great read ........

JoHarrington on 09/25/2014

I don't know actually. There will always be horrible associations in the minds of anyone aware of the Nazis - which covers much of the globe and our generations - but those for whom this is an active icon of their religion never gave it up. They will continue on with it too.

The Holocaust will one day be forgotten. Ridiculous to thing that now, though so many deniers wish it was now. But you only have to look right along side it and know that the Porajmos also happened beneath that symbol. Far fewer people know about the Porajmos. It started as part of the Forgotten Holocaust and hasn't budged a great deal higher since.

Do you shrink in horror from the eagle? That was the symbol used over the first concentration camp in the world - Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall. Yet it's practically forgotten now.

In short, yes, the swastika will fade in memory as regards the Third Reich. But only if the Hindus, Buddhists, Jainists etc continue, and carry it with them too.

Ember on 09/24/2014

This was really interesting. I hadn't known the history of the swastika at all, and previous to learning that it was a Hindu symbol a few years ago hadn't known it had ever been associated with anything but Nazis and Hitler. I started to wonder, as I was reading this, if Hitler had chosen it as a sort of trick, like he wanted people to associate it as a good thing and to think what he was going was a good thing. The actual reasoning and his understanding of history behind it is a bit odd though. It's weird how things sort of tie in like that.

You don't suppose it's the sort of thing that can be reclaimed, do you? I can't imagine anytime soon...but I wonder if it is possible.

JoHarrington on 09/23/2014

I'm glad that you thought so.

Telesto on 09/23/2014

Very interesting Jo.

JoHarrington on 09/21/2014

It's a fascinating history, isn't it? I've only recently checked it out myself. Hence this article.

I'm sure I read somewhere in the dim, distant past, that Hitler was obsessed with Horus. Not quite Satan, but certainly associated with war and vengeance. I do try to steer away from blaming anything preternatural for these things though. Not for Hitler's sake, but for our own. If we're looking for horns and cloven feet, then we won't see the danger until we're being marched into the camps. Which isn't to say that we might privately still be looking for the evil influence.

JoHarrington on 09/20/2014

I never underestimate the human capacity for absurdity. Though on this occasion, it's particularly bad.

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