c.1900s-1920s: Lucky Swastikas

“Following a brief surge of popularity in Western culture, the swastika from the 1930s became strongly associated with its iconic usage by Nazi Germany, and it has hence become stigmatized and to some extent taboo in the Western world; it has notably been outlawed in Germany if used as a symbol of Nazism.”

- Wikipedia

Source: Multiple

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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

21 Responses

  1. Donald Lush

    Oh the Swastika laundry! What memories that brings from my childhood in Dublin where it used to collect our laundry in one of those vans every week.

  2. Dan H

    You find it used in its original form (clockwise) in a lot of buddhist temples, especially in Korea… Sign of auspiciousness and prosperity.

  3. Karina

    Before Hitler got his filthy hands on it, it had been a sign of peace for over 5,000 years.

  4. Daniel Latinus

    When I was a kid in the 1970s, I attended the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial near the Wisconsin Dells. A number of the Native American dancers had swastikas worked into their costumes. The MC explained that these symbols were traditional to the various tribes.

    Towards the end of the 19th century, there used to be the Swastika Coal Company in Raton, New Mexico. Their railroad cars had a swastika painted on the side. This company had a building with small medallions on it emblazoned with swastikas.

    The building was still standing, and the swastikas still visible, in the 1980s. I haven’t been in Raton since then, so I don’t know if the building still exists, or has been altered.

    A photo of the railroad car can be found in Ghost Railroads of New Mexico.

  5. krak

    this symbol can be found in many cultures, espacially in asia and its 6.000 years old!

  6. Zhlob from Ukraine

    5000 russian rubles (1918) with Hackenkreuz from the times of Civil War.

  7. Si Hope

    The church where I went to sunday school as a child has a swastika in a row of symbols on an exterior wall.

  8. boo boo

    i was suprized to see a swastika at every vertical junction on the iron gates that surround the san francisco mint

  9. Roger

    There’s another example in the Customs House in Circular Quay in the middle of Sydney. It’s a large, beautiful mosaic that dominates the lobby and is impossible to either cover up or overlook. I was thunderstruck when I first saw it as a kid. Of course it was made in the 19th century (1840s) and is nothing to do with Nazis.

    Having said that, not all of the examples above are definitely free of Nazi taint. For example the fighter plane (a Messerschmitt Bf 109, I think) was in Finnish service, but it was provided by Nazi Germany. The Finns were not Nazis but were allied to them due to mutual hostility to the Soviets, and it is by no means impossible that the swastika was meant as a reference to Nazi allies.

    Similarly, the Tsingtao Brewery was founded by Germans. Between the wars it was sold to the Japanese (who of course were allies of Nazi Germany) but still partly operated by German technical experts.

  10. Tuomas


    The connection between the Finnish Air Force’s blue swastika with the Nazi symbol is much more fascinating than it being mere imitation of the German ally’s insignia. The blue swastika was the lucky symbol of Swedish Count Eric von Rosen, an aviation enthusiast who donated the first airplane to the Finnish government forces during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. That Morane-Saulnier Parasol/Thulin D had blue swastikas painted on its wings and so the FAF adopted this as its symbol. So perhaps a 1920s FAF aircraft would have been more approriate for this post as it would have had the swastika without any Nazi connections prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany. Post-war, though, the symbol was so tainted by Hitler’s bloody legacy that the FAF had to adopt a blue-white roundel. The swastika still features in FAF unit flags today.

    But Count Eric von Rosen had a direct contact to the Nazis too. In 1920-21 he employed none other than Hermann Göring, the WWI German air ace, as a commercial pilot in Sweden. And von Rosen’s sister-in-law, Carin, became Göring’s wife. After his stint in Sweden Göring joined the Nazi party in 1922. It seems the Nazis adopted the symbol already before Göring joined them, but it is most likely that the future Nazi Air Minister and the leader of the Luftwaffe first saw a swastika-marked aircraft in von Rosen’s employ. As it happens, von Rosen was also a notable supporter of the Swedish National Socialist Bloc in the thirties.


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