The Swastika:
Past and Hitler’s story


The Swastika is a universal symbol, being used from the Bronze Age onwards on objects of every kind. The word 'swastika' comes from the Sanskrit: su (Greek eu, meaning 'good'), asti (Greek esto, meaning 'to be') and the suffix ka. The symbol means 'good luck' (the Sanskrit-Tibetan word Swasti means 'may it be auspicious'). According to Joscelyn Godwin, the shape of the swastika derives from the constellation Arktos, also known as the Great Bear, the Plough and the Big Dipper. To the observer in the Northern Hemisphere, this constellation appears to rotate around Polaris, the Pole Star (an effect caused by the rotation of the Earth). If the positions of Arktos in relation to Polaris are represented in pictorial form (corresponding to the four seasons), the result is highly suggestive of a swastika; in 4000 BC, they were identical to the symbol. It is for this reason that the swastika (aside from denoting good fortune) has been used to represent the Pole.

The Swastika gained importance in European culture in the nineteenth century, primarily in the fields of comparative ethnology and Oriental studies. The absence of the symbol from
Egypt, Chaldea, Assyria and Phoenicia led the ethnologists to believe that the swastika was an Aryan sun-symbol. Madame Blavatsky saw the significance of the symbol, and incorporated it into the seal of the Theosophical Society to signify the harmony of universal movement.

According to Godwin:

So innocent were the "good luck" associations of the swastika that during World War I, it was used as the emblem of the British War Savings Scheme, appearing on coupons and stamps.

The swastika appears in two forms: left-handed and right-handed. However, confusion quickly arises when one is faced with the question of how to define 'left' and 'right' with regard to this symbol. Some occultists and historians favor a definition based on the direction taken by the arms as they extend outward from the centre; while others prefer to define left' and 'right' in terms of the apparent direction of rotation. The confusion arises from the fact that a swastika whose arms proceed to the left appears to be rotating to the right, and vice versa.

Each swastika variant has been taken to mean different things by writers on the occult, such as the Frenchman Andre Brissaud who says that the counter-clockwise-spinning swastika represents the rotation of the Earth on its axis and is the 'Wheel of the Golden Sun', symbolizing creation, evolution and fertility. The clockwise-spinning swastika is, according to Brissaud, the 'Wheel of the Black Sun', representing man's quest for power in opposition to Heaven. However, there is another explanation of the left- and right-handed swastikas: the left-handed (clockwise-turning) symbol represents the migration of the ancient Aryan Race from its homeland at the North Pole, while the right-handed (counter-clockwise-turning) symbol - the one used by the Nazis - represents the destiny of the Aryans to return to their spiritual centre at the South Pole.

After informing us of the complexities attached to the interpretation of left- and right-handed swastikas, Godwin continues:

Whatever the validity of these theories, the ancient decorative swastikas show no preference whatsoever for one type over the other. The place where the left-right distinction is supposed to be most significant is
Tibet, where both Nicholas Roerich and Anagarika Govinda observed that the swastika of the ancient Bon-Po religion points to the left, the Buddhist one to the right. Now it is true that the Bon-Pos perform ritual circles counter-clockwise, the Buddhists clockwise, but almost all the Buddhist iconography collected by Thomas Wilson shows left-handed swastikas, just like the ones on the Bon-Pos' ritual scepter, their equivalent of the Buddhist vajra. One can only say that the swastika should perhaps be left-handed if it denotes polar revolution, and right-handed if (as in Buddhism) it symbolizes the course of the sun. But the root of the problem is probably the inherent ambiguity of the symbol itself, which makes the left-handed swastika appear to be rotating to the right, and vice versa.

The swastika gained popularity among German anti-Semitic groups through the writings of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, who took the symbol of good fortune and universal harmony and used it to denote the unconquerable Germanic hero. The counter-clockwise orientation of the swastika was used as a banner by the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) and it aroused considerable controversy in occult and esoteric circles.

According to the occult historian Francis King, when Hitler called for suggestions for a banner, all of the submissions included a swastika. The one Hitler finally chose had been designed by Dr Friedrich Krohn, a dentist from Sternberg. However, the design incorporated a clockwise-turning swastika, symbolizing good fortune, harmony and spirituality.

Hitler decided to reverse the design, making the swastika counter-clockwise, symbolizing evil and black magic. Here again, there is the problem of defining what is a right-and left-handed swastika. Was the Nazi symbol right-handed (traditionally denoting good) or left-handed (denoting evil)? In one sense, the Nazi swastika could be said to be right-handed because the hooked arms extend to the right; conversely, it could be said to be left-handed, since the apparent rotation is counter-clockwise.

As the journalist Ken Anderson notes:

What we are dealing with is subjective definition ... We can speculate that Hitler had chosen to reverse the cross because of the connotations of black magic and evil in Krohn's cross and for the purpose of evoking the positive images of good luck, spiritual evolution, etc., for his fledgling party!

Anderson gives the impression of having his tongue slightly in his cheek, but his interpretation is almost certainly correct, for two reasons.

Firstly, it must be remember that Hitler himself had very little time for occult mumbo-jumbo, and was certainly not the practicing black magician many occultists claim him to have been and secondly, the idea that Hitler considered himself 'evil' (as he would have had to have done in order to take the step of reversing a positive symbol to a negative one), or that evil was an attractive concept for him is ridiculous. But history tells us that one of the most terrifying and baffling aspects of Adolf Hitler is that he did not consider himself 'evil': as Trevor-Roper states, Hitler was convinced of his own rectitude, that he was acting correctly in exterminating the Jews and the other groups targeted for destruction by the Nazis.

In addition, Hitler himself makes no mention of such an alteration in his book Mein Kampf. In view of the fact that he took most of the credit for the design himself, neglecting even to mention Krohn's name, he would surely have explained the reasons for his making such a fundamental alteration to the design of the NSDAP banner: 

I was obliged to reject without exception the numerous designs which poured in from the circles of the young movement ... I myself - as Leader - did not want to come out publicly at once with my own design, since after all it was possible that another should produce one just as good or perhaps even better. Actually, a dentist from Starnberg did deliver a design that was not bad at all, and, incidentally, was quite close to my own, having only the one fault that a swastika with curved legs was composed into a white disk.

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.

The symbol of peace and tranquility was used to represent the team led by Hitler to perform one of the most hideous forms of human massacre. It led to many misconceptions in the human race about the validity of the swastika which still cannot be answered satisfactorily.

The Iron Cross (without the swastika) was a medal that originated during the Napoleonic Wars and became one of the world’s most easily recognized military decorations.

Adolf Hitler renewed use of the Iron Cross in 1939 and superimposed the Nazi swastika in its center. Following the fall of the Third Reich, the symbol became strictly prohibited in post-war Germany.










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