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The Nazi Swastika: 2 of 2.

In Latvia too, the swastika (known as Thunder Cross and Fire Cross) was used as the marking of the Latvian Air Force between 1918 and 1934, as well as in insignias of some military units. It was also used by the Latvian fascist movement Perkonkrusts (Thunder Cross in Latvian), as well as by other non-political organizations.

The Icelandic Steamship Company, Eimskip (founded in 1914) used a swastika in its logo until recently.

In Dublin, Ireland, a laundry company known as the Swastika Laundry was in existence on the south side of the city. Featuring a black swastika on a white background, the business started up in the early 20th century and continued up until recent times.

North America

The Theosophical Society, founded in New York in 1875, incorporated the Swastika into its seal because of the Buddhist associations of the symbol.

The swastika's use by the Navajo and other tribes made it a popular symbol for the American Southwest. Until the 1930s blankets, metalwork, and other Southwestern souveniers were often made with swastikas.

One year in the first part of the 20th century, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota featured a design that had a swastika on one of the towers.


is the name of a small community in northern Ontario, Canada, approximately 580 kilometres north of Toronto, and 5 kilometres west of Kirkland Lake, the town of which it is now part. The town of Swastika was founded in 1906. Gold was discovered nearby and the Swastika Mining Company was formed in 1908. The government of Ontario attempted to change the town's name during World War II, but the town resisted.

In Windsor, Nova Scotia, there was an ice hockey team from 1905-1916 named the Swastikas, and their uniforms featured swastika symbols. There were also hockey teams named the Swastikas in Edmonton, Alberta (circa 1916), and Fernie, British Columbia (circa 1922).

The 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army used a yellow swastika on a red background as a unit symbol until the 1930s, when it was switched to a thunderbird.

In 1925, Coca Cola made a lucky watch fob in the shape of a swastika with the slogan, "Drink Coca Cola five cents in bottles".

The Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building (HPER) at Indiana University contains decorative Native American-inspired reverse swastika tilework on the walls of the foyer and stairwells on the southeast side of the building. HPER was built as the university fieldhouse in the 1920's, before the Nazi Germany party came to power in Germany. In recent years, the HPER swastika motif, along with the Thomas Hart Benton murals in nearby Woodburn Hall have been the cause of much controversy on campus.

Nazi Germany

The National socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) formally adopted the swastika or Hakenkreuz (hooked cross) in 1920. This was used on the party's flag (right), badge, and armband. (It had been used unofficially by the NSDAP and its predecessor, the German Workers Party, Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP), however.)

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote:

  • I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.
Red, white, and black were the colors of the flag of the old German Empire.

The use of the swastika was associated by Nazi Germany theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people. Following the Nordicist version of the Aryan invasion theory, the Nazis claimed that the early Aryans of India, from whose Vedic tradition the swastika sprang, were the prototypical white invaders. Thus, they saw fit to co-opt the sign as a symbol of the Aryan master race. The use of swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race dates back to writings of Emile Burnouf. Following many other writers, the German nationalist poet Guido von List believed it to be a uniquely Aryan symbol. Hitler referred to the swastika as the symbol of "the fight for the victory of Aryan man" - Mein Kampf.

The swastika was already in use as a symbol of German volkisch nationalist movements. In Deutschland Erwache - Ulric of England writes:

  • Š what inspired Hitler to use the swastika as a symbol for the NSDAP was its use by the Thule-Gesellschaft since there were many connections between them and the DAP Š from 1919 until the summer of 1921 Hitler used the special Nationalsozialistische library of Dr. Friedich Krohn, a very active member of the Thule-Gesellschaft, Š Dr. Krohn was also the dentist from Sternberg who was named by Hitler in Mein Kampf as the designer of a flag very similar to one that Hitler designed in 1920 Š during the summer of 1920, the first party flag was shown at Lake Tegernsee Š these home-made Š early flags were not preserved, the Ortsgruppe MÜnchen flag was generally regarded as the first flag of the Party.

José Manuel Erbez wrote:

  • The first time the swastika was used with an "Aryan" meaning was on December 25, 1907, when the self-named Order of the New Templars, a secret society founded by [Adolf Joseph] Lanz von Liebenfels, hoisted at Werfenstein Castle (Austria) a yellow flag with a swastika and four fleurs-de-lys.

However, Liebenfels was drawing on an already-established use of the symbol.

NSDAP flags at the 1936 Nazi Germany Party rally in NurembergOn 14 March 1933, shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany, the NSDAP flag was hoisted alongside Germany's national colors. It was adopted as the sole national flag on 15 September 1935.

The swastika was used for badges and flags throughout Nazi Germany Germany, particularly for government and military organizations, but also for "popular" organizations such as the Reichsbund Deutsche Jagerschaft.

Nazi Germany Party rally in NurembergOn 14 March 1933, shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany, the NSDAP flag was hoisted alongside Germany's national colors. It was adopted as the sole national flag on 15 September 1935.The swastika was used for badges and flags throughout Nazi Germany Germany, particularly for government and military organizations, but also for "popular" organizations such as the Reichsbund Deutsche Jägerschaft.

The Iron Cross featured a swastika during the Nazi Germany period

The Iron Cross featured a swastika during the Nazi Germany period - while the DAP and the NSDAP had used both right-facing and left-facing swastikas, the right-facing swastika is used consistently from 1920 onwards. However, Ralf Stelter notes that the swastika flag used on land had a right-facing swastika on both sides, while the ensign (naval flag) had it printed through so that you would see a left-facing swastika when looking at the ensign with the flagpole to the right.

There were attempts to amalgamate Nazi Germany and Hindu use of the swastika. Notably by Savitri Devi Mukherji who declared Hitler an avatar of Vishnu.

Taboo in Western Countries

Because of its use by Hitler and the Nazis and, in modern times, by neo-Nazis and other hate groups, for many people in the West, the swastika is associated primarily with Nazism, fascism, and white supremacy in general. Hence, outside historical contexts, it has become taboo in Western countries. For example, the German postwar criminal code makes the public showing of the Hakenkreuz (the swastika) and other Nazi Germany symbols illegal and punishable, except for scholarly reasons.

The powerful symbolism acquired by the swastika has often been used in graphic design and propaganda as a means of drawing Nazi Germany comparisons; examples include the cover of Stuart Eizenstat's 2003 book Imperfect Justice, publicity materials for Costa-Gavras's 2002 film Amen, and a billboard that was erected opposite the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, in 2004, which juxtaposed images of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse pictures with a swastika.

Founded in the 1970s, the Raelian Movement, a religious sect believing in the possibility of immortality by scientific progress, used a symbol that was the source of considerable controversy: an interlaced star of David and swastika. In 1991, the symbol was changed to remove the swastika and deflect public criticism. The Society for Creative Anachronism, which aims to study and recreate Medieval and Renaissance history, imposes restrictions on its members' use of the swastika on their arms, although some arms dating to the early days of the group have the symbol.

Raelian Symbol

The Raëlian symbol, before 1991 and after In recent years, controversy has erupted when consumer goods bearing the symbol have been exported (often unintentionally) to North America. In 2002, Christmas crackers containing plastic toy pandas sporting swastikas were pulled from shelves after complaints from consumers in Canada, although the China-based manufacturer claimed the symbol was presented in a traditional sense and not as a reference to the Nazis.

In 1995, the City of Glendale, California scrambled to cover up over 900 cast iron lampposts decorated with swastikas throughout the downtown portion of the city; the lampposts had been manufactured by an American company in the early 1920s, and had nothing to do with Nazism.

In 2004, Microsoft released a "critical update" to remove two swastikas and a star of David from the font Bookshelf Symbol 7. The font had been bundled with Microsoft Office 2003.

Punk rockers like Siouxsie Sioux, Sid Vicious and John Lydon used, and were photographed using, the Nazi Germany version of the swastika for its shock value, notwithstanding that Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols' manager, was half-Jewish.

The previously successful career of the British band Kula Shaker virtually collapsed in the 1990s after the band's frontman, Crispian Mills, son of actress Hayley Mills, expressed his desire to use Swastikas as part of the imagery of their live show; because of this, and additional remarks he made, he was widely accused of holding Nazi Germany sympathies.

However, the band was musically influenced by Indian styles, and Mills asserted that his attraction to the swastika was part of an attempt to reclaim the Indian usage of the symbol in the West.

In January 2005 there was much criticism when Prince Harry of Wales, third in line of succession to the British throne, was photographed wearing what appeared to be intended as an Afrika Korps uniform, plus a Nazi Germany swastika armband, to a fancy dress party.

The Swastika Stone

Iron Age Rock Carving: The stone is found in the moors near Ilkley in West Yorkshire.

The stone overlooks the valley of the River Wharfe, and is identical to some of the 'Camunnian Rose' designs in Val Camonica, Italy - nine cup-marks in a cross shape, surrounded by a curved swastika-shaped groove. The Ilkley carving also has an 'appendage' off the east arm - a cup surrounded by a curved hook-shaped groove. It is unique on the moor (which is covered in hundreds of cup-and-ring type carvings) although there is an unfinished swastika design (more angular, without cups) on the nearby Badger Stone.

One of the lines of cups on the Swastika Stone is less than a degree off magnetic north-south. One naturally looks north from the stone, as it is on a rocky outcrop on the north side of the moor. Was it associated with the Pole star with which its cups align? Why then does its shape describe a clockwise motion, whereas the stars turn anti-clockwise around the pole?

Perhaps the design relates to the shamanic practice of ascent up the 'Pillar of the World' (to use the Lapp term). Numerous Siberian and northern European peoples documented by Mircea Eliade see the Pole star as the summit of a pole holding up the sky (seen as a tent). Eliade notes similar beliefs about the Pole star in Ancient Saxon, Scandinavian and Romanian myths. If, then, one imagines the Swastika design to be the base of a Pillar of the World, the implicit motion of the design makes sense. Something that appears to turn anti-clockwise when looking up from the bottom of a pole will, if it slides down the pole and is viewed from above, appear to turn clockwise.

The Swastika Stone may map the turning sky down onto the ground, forming the bond between 'levels' that is so central to shamanic cosmology.

Also, the 'appendage' cup, in relation to the central cup, would have only been a couple of degrees off the summer solstice sunrise during the period 2000BCE - 100CE (covering most of the likely times at which the glyph was carved. The 'hook' groove, if imagined to turn with the swastika, would 'haul' the cup-sun across the sky. This seems to strengthen the swastika-sky connection.

(I should note that I do not support the idea that cup-and-ring patterns are maps of stellar constellations. Perhaps some involved rudimentary attempts at this, but no one has found accurate correspondences in any existing patterns. They seem to me to be more generally concerned with access points to alternate realities).

With the Pole Star/Pillar of the World ideas in mind, one could see some cup-and-ring markings as being related. The 'tail' grooves could be the Pillar reaching up to the cup-pole, surrounded by rings of revolving stars. Some local cup-and-ring markings, like those on the Panorama Stone, have 'ladders' instead of 'tail' grooves. This image further supports the shamanic interpretation of the petroglyphs, as ladders are among the most frequently occurring representations of shamanic ascent to other worlds. Human figures atop ladders appear in !Kung San rock art related to trance-state ascension.

Cup-and-ring style petroglyphs in the British Isles are usually dated to the Bronze Age (because some are included in, or in the proximity of, Bronze Age burials) or the Neolithic (because of comparable carvings on Irish passage graves from that period - see also Richard Bradley's recent work 'Signing the Land' for arguments dating this style of prehistoric art to the Neolithic).

The Swastika Stone is arguably associated with this style of rock art, due to its use of cup-marks, but I have recently come to see it as most likely originating in the Iron Age, or even during Roman occupation. This is because of Verbeia, a Romano-Celtic Goddess revered by the Roman troops stationed in Ilkley (then Olicana). Verbeia is often accepted as being a version of the Celtic spring/fire Goddess Brigid, who is still associated with swastika-like symbols in Ireland. Also, the Roman cohort which set up her altar were recruited from the Lingones, a Gaulish Celtic tribe.

Apparently Romano-Celtic coins have been found in Gaul bearing swastika-like designs. It seems tempting to think that the Lingones cohort carved the Swastika Stone when they were here, but this would surely be unusual. Or perhaps the recruited Celtic/Roman troops were influenced in their choice of 'genuis loci', Verbeia, by the native Celts of West Yorkshire, the Brigantes (whose name derives from the Goddess Brigantia, related to Brigid), who may have already carved the stone.

The Swastika may map the turning sky down onto the ground, forming the bond between 'levels' that is so central to shamanic cosmology.

Legend has it that the Vedic civilization was highly advanced. The sages that oversaw its development, through their mystic insight and deep meditation, discovered the ancient symbols of spirituality - Aumkara and Swastika. They also discovered many scientific principles that they applied to develop a highly advanced technology. They gave the atom its sanskrit name "Anu".

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