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Swastika / Hakenkreuz

The swastika, an ancient symbol, had a benevolent meaning of well-being prior to its association with the Nazi party. Although today the swastika can evoke negative emotions, the original meaning of this ancient sacred symbol is one of life and prosperity. The oldest symbols made by humans, the swastika dates back some 6,000 years to rock and cave paintings. Scholars generally agree it originated in India. With the emergence of the Sanskrit language came the term "swastika", a combination of "su", or good, and "asti", to be; in other words, well-being. At one time this symbol had another meaning. In the ancient languageof Sanskrit, translations give it meanings of "Being fortunate" or "Noble." The swastika is considered one of the oldest known symbols with roots going back more than 3,000 years. It predates the Egyptian symbol, the Ankh.

The Swastika symbol was recognized for its attributes as a charm or amulet, as a sign of benediction, blessing, long life, good fortune, and good luck. The swastika symbol was popular in the United States prior to 1920, when it was appropriated as a Nazi symbol and later associated with the Third Reich during World War II. The symbol remains visible on numerous historic buildings, including sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also appeared on tiles, lampposts, metal valves, tools, surfboards, stock certificates, brand names, place names, medals, commercial tokens, postcards, souvenirs, rugs and clothing.

H.G.Wells wrote that "at last across the Pacific and to Mexico and Peru. It was a coastal culture not reaching deeply inland. This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture, which Elliot Smith called the heliolithic culture, included ... the use of the symbol known as the swastika for good luck. This odd little symbol spins gaily round the world; it seems incredible that men would have invented and made a pet of it twice over. Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of constellation all over this great Mediterranean-India Ocean-Pacific area. Where one occurs, most of the others occur. They link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this constellation of practices does not crop up in the primitive homes of Nordic or Mongolian peoples, nor does it extend southward much beyond equatorial Africa. For thousands of years, from 15,000 to 1,000 B.C., such a heliolithic Neolithic culture and its brownish possessors may have been oozing round the world through the warmer regions of the world, drifting by canoes often across wide stretches of sea."

In the summer of 1920 the National Socialist German Workers'Party (NSDAP, the Nazi Party) adopted the red, white and black flag with the swastika as their symbol. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that "The question of the new flag, that is to say the form and appearance it must take, kept us very busy in those days.... I decided upon a final form - a flag of red material with a white disc bearing in its centre a black swastika.... The new flag appeared in public in the midsummer of 1920. It suited our movement admirably, both being new and young. Not a soul had seen this flag before; its effect at that time was something akin to that of a blazing torch. ... We National Socialists regarded our flag as being the embodiment of our party programme. The red expressed the social thought underlying the movement. White the national thought. And the swastika signified the mission allotted to us - the struggle for the victory of Aryan mankind and at the same time the triumph of the ideal of creative work which is in itself and always will be anti-Semitic."

Like the Confederate battle flag, the swastika was transformed into a racist symbol. The swastika, long revered in many parts of the world as a symbol of good fortune, is metaphorically radioactive in others - it will get you jail time in Germany. The swastika insignia was adopted when the Forty-fifth Division was created as a National Guard unit composed of troops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma in 1924, and designed to evoke a Native American tradition, was abandoned during the 1930s, when identification of the symbol with the Nazi regime in Germany made it unpalatable. After going some time with no official insignia, the Forty-fifth adopted the Thunderbird in 1939, two years before American entry into the war. The Forty-fifth division liberated Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945.

Crimes and threats against persons because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicaps are serious and increasing. Nazi swastikas historically and traditionally have been used to threaten, terrorize, intimidate, and harass Jewish people and their families. Swastikas symbolize the massive destruction of the Jewish population, commonly known as the holocaust. A swastika may create a reasonable fear of harm in the mind of the person, the person's family and household members, or the group. The use of the swastika is an especially egregious and provocative act.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:55:13 ZULU