Swastika is coined from a Sanskrit word which means “very auspicious”. It has extended expressions too, such as “successful”, “happiness” or “good luck.” Swastika has made way to the art and iconography produced throughout the history of the humanity. Swastikas have been used in Roman or Greek ceramic adornments and in Korean temples, or for representation of very diverse concepts.
The swastika was used as a symbol among Hindus and is mentioned for the first time in the Vedas, the sacred writings of the most primitive Hinduism. Its use was also transferred to other religions of India, such as Buddhism and Jainism.
Swastika is a well-known and recognized symbol, and so is its history. But the same swastika has a long list of unknown facts that only few have the hint of.
Let’s have a look at 15 hidden facts about Swastika Origin and it’s history.
1 First Use Of Swastika/ First Appearance
If scholars are to be believed, the simple swastika origin known to appear in the Neolithic culture in South Eastern Europe about 7,000 years ago, although it was supposedly in the Bronze Age when they spread throughout the continent. Some unearthed clay pots have simple swastikas surrounding the top, dating to about 4,000 years ago. It was reported that when the Nazis occupied the Russian city of Kiev in World War II, they got convinced that these pots were evidence of their own Aryan ancestors. They then took them back to Germany, even though they were returned after the war.
This symbol, at the beginning of twentieth century, did not have the controversial connotation that it acquired after the Second World War. The British writer Rudyard Kipling was highly influenced by biographical reasons for Indian culture. He used to put a swastika on the cover of all his books until the rise of Nazism convinced him that it was inconvenient.
Even the Boy Scouts used it as a symbol until 1934, as the motif of the Medal of Merit. The medal was designed by Robert Baden-Powell in 1922, and used as a sign of good luck to the recipient by adding a swastika to the flower of lis of the Scouts. In 1934, when seeing that the Nazi party already used the swastika, some Scouts asked to suppress the symbol, and a new medal was sent to the merit without the swastika.
2 Swastika in Advertising
The swastika was used in Coca-Cola advertising campaigns and adopted by US military units during the First World War. Most of these benign uses of the emblem came to an end in the 1930s, with the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany.
3 Swastika & Hitler
Apart from Adolf Hitler, The epitome of Nazi Germany was undoubtedly the famous and characteristic “hakenkreuz” or swastika. It is in the form of a cross with folded arms, black on a white circle with red background. At the beginning of World War II, it waved victorious in all places where the Werhmacht, with its fearsome “blitzkrieg” or lightning war. It militarily trampled all the armies that were put before him, whether in the public buildings of Poland and the Netherlands, in the monuments of Prague, near the Eiffel Tower or in the same Parthenon of Greece.
To this day, swastika is a taboo for many in the West. The reason is the association with the naked eye with Nazism and the memory of the Holocaust.
Its use in that period has impregnated a negative connotation, to the point that Germany still prohibits and sanctions any public use of the design modified by the Nazi. Also the decorative use of the swastikaa that was often seen before Nazism has completely disappeared.
Hitler’s use is barely a black grain in the arena of the immense swastika story. For millions of people, mainly in the East, the swastika is associated with beliefs and concepts that have nothing to do with Nazism.
4 Swastika In Different Mythology
In the proto-European ancestral religion, the swastika or solar wheel often represented the sun and its power, whereas in Germanic mythology it represented power and illumination, the reason why it was associated to the gods of the thunder, like Thor (the swastika was the symbol of his hammer) and Taranis in Celtic mythology. Some Native American tribes such as the Hopi and Navajo, viewed the swastika as a symbol of migration. They often sketched and depicted it in blankets, baskets, art objects, dresses and sand paintings.
The swastika, by the way, that would become one of the most hated symbols of the twentieth century, inextricably linked to the Third Reich, was not invented by the Nazis, as it was used throughout history in different places and contexts, and Very different meanings.
A swastika is basically a cross that is in rotating motion, so the direction of rotation is vital to correctly interpret its meaning and its different types. For this reason, the swastika is distinguished clockwise (卐), when it rotates clockwise with the upper arm bent to the right; and the swastika in a counter-clockwise direction (卍), when it rotates counter clockwise, with the upper arm bent to the left.
5 The Hakenkreuz In Nazi Germany
If you ever wondered why Nazis adopted the swastika or “Hakenkreuz” as a symbol of their racial, ideological, political and military movement, read this-
The first time the swastika was used with an Aryan meaning, according to various historians, was December 25, 1907. On that occasion the self-proclaimed Order of the New Templars (a secret society founded by Joseph Lanz von Liebenfels), hoisted in the castle Of Werfenstein, in Austria, a yellow flag with a swastika and four fleurs de lis.
The use of the swastika by the Nazis would come from the work of nineteenth-century German scholars. While translating ancient Indian texts, they realized the similarities between their own language and Sanskrit. These scholars concluded that the Germans could have ancestors in India, whom they imagined as a race of white warriors who called Aryans. The Sanskrit word “Ario”, in fact, has the meaning “noble” and relates to certain warrior tribes of knights that appeared near the Caspian Sea three thousand years before our Age.
This would be the cultural ancestors of the European nations, and North India. These warriors would have invaded India a millennium and a half before Christ and colonized ancient Greece and Asia Minor, and used to tame wild horses and tend cattle. In their pantheon they had pagan gods who represented the forces of nature.
The idea that the Germans descended from that race of noble warriors then took root among anti-Semitic nationalist groups. These groups appropriated the swastika as an Aryan symbol to promote the idea of the existence of an ancient lineage of the Germanic peoples.
6 Swastika Nazis in Paris
The Nazis apparently adopted the swastika or “Hakenkreuz” in 1920. It was already used as a symbol among the Völkisch or German nationalist movements. Their principles were based on certain mystic-esoteric concepts and the writings of the indologist, Sanskrit and French Hellenist Émile Burnouf and the German nationalist poet Guido Von List. Guido Von List, one of the most important figures of the resurgence of Germanic Neopaganism and anti-Semitism, wrote several essays on the Aryan race.
7 Swastika & Thule Society
It is also contended that the use of Swastika by the Thule Society, and the volkisch group of Munich, inspired Hitler to use the swastika as a symbol of the NSDAP. The völkisch group of Munich was created by Rudolf von Sebottendorff, who sponsored the German Workers’ Party at its inception (later transformed by Adolf Hitler into the NSDAP) and believed that the Aryan race came from a lost continent, perhaps Atlantis.
It was also ensured that from 1919 until the summer of 1921, Hitler used the special library of Dr. Friedich Krohn, an active member of the Thule Society. He would have helped design the Nazi emblem.
8 Swastika In Mein Kampf
In his book “My Struggle” (Mein Kampf), Adolf Hitler says that
“The organization of our troops must clarify a very important question. Until then the movement had no party badge and no party flag. The absence of such symbols not only had momentary drawbacks, but it was intolerable for the future, for comrades of the party lacked any external sign of their common bond … The question of the new flag – that is, its appearance – days.
From all sides came suggestions … The new flag had to be equally a symbol of our own struggle, since on the contrary it was also expected to be very effective as a cartel…. For this reason we have had to reject all the proposals of identification of our movement through a white flag with the old State … White is not a colour of agitation. It is suitable for chaste virgin clubs, but not for the movements that change the world in a revolutionary era .
I myself, for my part, after innumerable attempts, established the final form of that symbol: a flag with a red background, a Black and white disc and a swastika in the center. After long trials I also found a definite ratio between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.”
In the same book, Hitler reports that numerous designs suggested to him by members of the Nazi party invariably included a swastika and that a “Sternberg dentist” (probably referring to Friedrich Krohn) handed him a design for a flag that “is not Badly and very close to mine. ”
Alex Drexler, one of the founders of the German Workers Party, confirmed that Hitler wanted a party banner that could compete with the flaming red of the hated Communist flag. “We wanted something to beat the Reds, but at the same time it was very different.”
The only certainty is that during the summer of 1920, the first flag of the Nazi party was publicly displayed on Lake Tegernsee. This flag consisted of a black swastika (or “Hakenkreuz”) rotated or rotated at 45 °, inside a white circle on a red background; black, white and red being the colours of the old flag of the German Empire.
The Nazis would later also use the swastika devoid of such circles, for what is important is that it be identified with a symbol of the forefathers of the Aryan race and with “the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man.”
For Adolf Hitler, the new flag was “a symbol of our own struggle” as well as “highly effective as a banner” (“Mein Kampf”, page 495). In this same work, Hitler described the new Nazi flag: “In red, we see the idea of the social movement, the nationalist idea is blank, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and with the Same symbol, the victory of the idea of creative work, which has always been and will continue to be anti-Semitic. ”
The rest is known history. The black and angled cross over the characteristic white circle and red background of the Nazi flag would become, in the Western world, one of the most hated symbols of the twentieth century. It is synonymous with aggression, death, brutality and fascism, even though the symbol goes back thousands of years and has represented, for almost every culture in the world, a symbol of good fortune.
9 Swastika In East
As we know it today, the swastika is one of the oldest signs of humanity. The etymology of this name is ‘suati’, which comes from the Sanskrit language (spoken in ancient times in India) and means ‘well-being’. ‘Cross of the cosmos’, ‘solar circle’, ‘lauburues’ and many others are the names that have inherited this symbol of prehistoric cultures and religions.
The popular use that remains in the East until today comes from the time of Buddha Sakya Muni, 2500 years ago. But the origins of Swastikas are so varied and distant, that some consider it as a link between almost all developed cultures.
10 Swastika In North America
The Indians of North America have used this sign for 5000 years. The Hopi Indians even made two roads in the form of a swastika throughout North America. The Aztecs, Maya, Olmecs, Toltecs, as well as the Incas, revered it as a sacred symbol. In Peru, it was found drawn in the pottery of the base of the greater pyramid. It represented a constant movement of the cycles of life.
11 Swastika In Europe
In Europe it is found, at least, since the times of the Greek empire. It was decorated with several famous paintings in the Vatican and in many other dwellings of the continent. It is thought that the Greeks and the Romans took her to Africa.
Also, in European pagan traditions, the swastika finds use in its two modalities -dextrógira and levógira- the symbols used to represent, respectively, the doors of birth and death, or the four elements (fire, earth, water , Air).
12 Swastika In Middle East
In the Middle East, it is found in Jewish synagogues, and even the tomb of Jesus Christ is decorated with several swastikas.
Already in modernity, before the hoarding of Hitler, it was seen in greeting cards, lucky coins, institutions, logos of companies, etc. So far, in Australia alone the swastika has not been found, but for almost all populations of the world, this sign is not at all strange.
13 Swastika In China
In China the swastika associates with the Buddha School (including the Buddhist religion). Unlike the Nazi design, where it appears rotated at 45 degrees, it is used in a horizontal position. In Chinese it is called “wan” (pinyin: wan4); and as written character is used 萬, which means ‘10,000 ‘or’ all ‘,’ eternity ‘. It represents the movement of galaxies, the universe and the creation of life.
14 Swastikas As The Symbol Of Buddha
According to the Buddha School, the sign has only the great Fo from certain levels. Fo of lower levels has only one, and in those of higher levels, the signs increase. Often one or two sculpted in the chest or sometimes in the face of the statues of Fo.
In the Buddha School, it is the sign of the level of a ‘Fo’ (Buddha or being illuminated). Fo have different levels according to their wisdom. A Fo can only know the truth about the levels below him, and he never knows what is above the level where he is.
15 Swastika Shape May Be Derived From The Rotating Comets
According to Carl Sagan, the famous American astronomer, the frequent use of by so culturally distinct and unrelated peoples could derive from a “common experience”; and given the distances and the disconnection, this experience could only arise from the sky. His theory was that the common observation of a comet with a rotating motion that left a stellar shape would be this experience in common.
The first part of Sagan’s hypothesis, in fact, resembles what the ancient Chinese sages said. But the common experience to which the Chinese were referring differs from Sagan’s hypothesis. The Chinese spoke of a common origin of human beings when civilization began: the universe. They believed that lives on Earth come from Heaven, from somewhere in the Cosmos.
So, humans share certain knowledge or “memories” that are locked up when they are born on Earth. Perhaps this is why, from the religious realms of different cultures, this symbol has been introduced in all corners of the Earth, originally representing congruent meanings around the movement of galaxies and the universe, as well as creation and the cycle of life.