History of the Swastika (2023)

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The Origins of the Swastika

The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being." The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Eurasia, as early as 7000 years ago, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day, it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures.

Its “Discovery” and Meanings in Modern Europe

The symbol experienced a resurgence in the nineteenth century, as a result of growing European interest in the ancient civilizations of the Near East and India. During his extensive excavations, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the hooked cross on the site of ancient Troy. He connected it with similar shapes found on pottery in Germany and speculated that it was a “significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors.” Other European scholars and thinkers linked the symbol to a shared Aryan culture that spanned Europe and Asia.

In the beginning of the twentieth century the swastika was widely used in Europe. It had numerous meanings, the most common being a symbol of good luck and auspiciousness.

The Appropriation of the Swastika as a Nazi Symbol

History of the Swastika (1)However, the work of European linguists and other scholars was taken up by racist groups, for whom the swastika was a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride.This conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people is likely one of the main reasons why the NaziParty formally adopted the swastika or Hakenkreuz (Ger., hooked cross) as its symbol in 1920.

The Nazi Party was not the only party to use the swastika in Germany. After World War I, a number of far-right nationalist movements adopted the swastika. As a symbol, it became associated with the idea of a racially “pure” state. By the time the Nazis gained control of Germany, the connotations of the swastika had forever changed.

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote:

(Video) The swastika was a symbol of peace until Hitler stole it

“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.”

History of the Swastika (2)The color scheme for the Nazi flag intentionally drew on the colors of the flag of Imperial Germany (1871–1918), which still resonated with many Germans who rejected democracy and the Weimar Republic. The color combination with the swastika made for a powerful logo, a trademark that became indelibly linked with the Nazi Party. Most political parties in democratic Germany did not have a political logo; the Communist Party and the Nazi Party were exceptions.

The swastika became the most recognizable symbol of Nazi propaganda, appearing on the flag referred to by Hitler in Mein Kampf, as well as on election posters, arm bands, medallions, and badges for military and other organizations. A potent symbol intended to elicit pride among Aryans, the swastika also struck terror into Jews and others deemed enemies of Nazi Germany.

Nazi Symbol: The Swastika in the Third Reich

Shortly after taking power in 1933, Hitler’s regime replaced the constitutionally-mandated black-red-gold flag of the Weimar Republic that had been linked with Germany’s democratic traditions. On March 12, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler issued a decree stating that henceforth the old German Imperial flag (black-white-red) was to be flown together with the swastika flag. “These flags,” the edict spelled out,

“connect the glorious past of the German Empire to the powerful rebirth of the German nation. Together they embody the power of the state and the inner solidarity of the national circles of the German people!”

History of the Swastika (3)

(Video) What is the origin of SWASTIKA 🇺🇦

Two months later, on May 19, 1933, the Nazi government prohibited the “symbols of German history, of the German state, and of the national revolution from being publicly used in a way that was likely to damage the feeling of dignity of these symbols.” The legislation was aimed at preventing private advertisers, companies, and others from using the swastika and other Nazi symbols or images in marketing their commercial goods and services without the approval of the regime. At that point the German market was flooded with products—including coffee, cigarettes, and cake pans—emblazoned with swastikas, Hitler’s face, or other symbols. The new law made the producers of unauthorized products subject to criminal proceedings.

The Reich Flag and the Nuremberg Race Laws

At the annual Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg in September 1935, the German government passed new legislation aimed at further disenfranchising Germany’s Jews. Included among the so-called Nuremberg Race Laws was the Reich Flag Law (September 15, 1935) that declared that henceforth the swastika flag would constitute the official national flag of the German Reich. That same day, the government passed the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which prohibited marriages and sexual relations between citizens of “German or those of kindred blood” and Jews. A further stipulation spelled out that Jews were banned from raising the new German flag (the swastika) and displaying the national colors.

The impetus behind the Reich Flag Law was the Nazi regime’s anger over events in New York in the summer and fall of 1935. On July 26, several hundred anti-Nazi demonstrators assembled around the German passenger liner, the SS Bremen, then docked at New York’s pier to protest recent anti-Jewish incidents in Berlin. A group of protesters ripped the swastika banner from the ship’s bow and tossed it into the river. New York police arrested several of the demonstrators. The German government promptly issued a formal protest to US authorities.

In response to a judicial ruling that freed most of the defendants, the Nazi government passed the Reich Flag Law.

Postwar Bans on the Use of the Swastika and Cultural Controversies

Following Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945, the Allied governments ruling the nation outlawed Nazi organizations. Their symbols and propaganda were removed and further dissemination criminalized. Subsequent German governments continued the ban on Nazi symbols and propaganda, including the swastika. Today in Germany and other European states, public display of Nazi symbols, including on the Internet, is prohibited by law and individuals violating such terms are subject to criminal proceedings.

In the United States, it is legal to display Nazi symbols and propaganda because of the country’s traditions and laws protecting free speech.

(Video) 卍 The Untold History of the Swastika 卐

At various times and in various nations, the swastika has become a controversial cultural icon. Some motorcycle gangs in the United States beginning in the 1950s wore Nazi insignia to highlight their outlaw nature. In the late 1970s, some punk rock performers and enthusiasts openly displayed the swastika as a symbol of youthful rebellion against the status quo.

Sometimes,Nazisymbols take on neutral or even positive connotations in countries with little or no connection to the history of Nazi ideology and mass murder.The swastika as a symbol of Nazism, other Nazi signs, and even the figure of Adolf Hitler have taken on new life insomecountries, where they have come to signify national unity, strength, discipline, anti-colonialism, and law and order.Symbols such as the swastika have a long history.To avoid misunderstanding and misuse, individuals should consider the context and past use of Nazi symbols and symbols in general.

Last Edited: Aug 7, 2017

Author(s): United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

(Video) History of the Swastika | Holocaust Education | USHMM

Related Links

  • Lesson Plan: Understanding Nazi Symbols (PDF)
  • Origins of Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist Terms and Symbols: A Glossary
  • Teaching Materials on Propaganda

Glossary Terms

    (Video) Why the Swastika is reviled as a symbol of fascism in the west ? | France | World News | WION


    What is the significance of swastik symbol? ›

    The swastika as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune is widely distributed throughout the ancient and modern world. The word is derived from the Sanskrit svastika, meaning “conducive to well-being.” It was a favourite symbol on ancient Mesopotamian coinage.

    What is the origin of swastik? ›

    The Origins of the Swastika

    The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being." The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Eurasia, as early as 7000 years ago, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky.

    What is the real meaning of Swastik? ›

    In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, swastika means "well-being". The symbol has been used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains for millennia and is commonly assumed to be an Indian sign. Early Western travellers to Asia were inspired by its positive and ancient associations and started using it back home.

    What is the Buddhist symbol for peace? ›

    In the Jodo Shinshu tradition of Japanese Buddhism, which Nakagaki practices, the swastika is a sign of peace and good luck.

    Where should Swastik be placed? ›

    Vastu suggests that making a swastik at the entrance of the house will help get rid of negativity. You must be wondering how to make swastik on main door. You should know that swastik should be made in the north-east direction to attract positive vibes and form a deep connection with the self.

    What is Swastik pyramid? ›

    Swastik is the sign of lord Ganesha and pyramids are embossed on it. (total pyramid =153 in all) This is an auspicious item to keep in the home. You can fix it on the outer wall of your house or room.

    What is the origin of the @symbol? ›

    Or the symbol evolved from an abbreviation of “each at”—the “a” being encased by an “e.” The first documented use was in 1536, in a letter by Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, who used @ to denote units of wine called amphorae, which were shipped in large clay jars.

    What is the symbol of Buddhist? ›

    The Symbol of Buddhism: The Dharma Wheel, or Dharmachakra

    The wheel represents the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. In the center of the wheel are three swirls that represent the three jewels of Buddhism, which are the Buddha (or the teacher), the Dharma (teachings of Buddha), and the sangha (the community).

    Does Buddhism have a symbol? ›

    The lotus flower is an important symbol in Buddhism as well as Hinduism. It symbolizes purity and encourages us to enjoy the purity of our mind and actions. In Buddhism, the lotus has been used in many teachings to impart the true nature of all mankind.

    What are the four dots in swastik? ›

    They can be interpreted as the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva), the core Hindu scriptures. They can be thought of as the four goals of life: Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha (right action, worldly prosperity, worldly enjoyment, and spiritual liberation).

    How many lines does a swastik have? ›

    Top Courses for Class 7

    Zero '0' lines of symmetry are there in a swastik.

    What is opposite swastik? ›

    In Hinduism, the right-facing symbol (clockwise) (卐) is called swastika, symbolizing surya ("sun"), prosperity and good luck, while the left-facing symbol (counter-clockwise) (卍) is called sauwastika, symbolising night or tantric aspects of Kali.

    What does swastik mean in Buddhism? ›

    The word “swastika” has Sanskrit roots and means “the mark of well being.” It has been used in prayers of the Rig Veda, the oldest of Hindu scriptures. In Buddhism, the symbol is known as “manji” and signifies the Buddha's footsteps. It is used to mark the location of Buddhist temples.

    What is the peace symbol for Native American? ›

    A broken arrow symbolizes peace among different tribes.

    What is the difference between OM and Swastik? ›

    Swastik is known for good fortune and well being. it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Aum symbol refers to soul and ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge.

    Can we draw Swastik on floor? ›

    In Hindu tradition, we mark the auspicious sign of Swastik at the entrance of our homes or offices. It is advisable not to make the symbol on the floor, however, and place it either on a sacred plate or on the door using chandan.

    Where do you put Swastik stickers at home? ›

    FEATURES: It can be placed at the place of worship, in temples, cash drawers, and also can be pasted at the entrance door to attract fortune, office, or at commercial places to attract money, wealth and prosperity. This is a traditional Indian Hindu good luck symbol talisman to attract good omen and positivity.

    Why is the pyramid shape so powerful? ›

    The shape of a pyramid allows weight to be distributed evenly throughout the structure. Most of the weight in a pyramid is on the bottom and it decreases the higher you go. This allowed ancient civilizations to create huge structures of stone that were very sturdy.

    What does a gold pyramid mean? ›

    In ancient cultures and belief systems, both gold and pyramids have had great spiritual significance, signifying rebirth and enlightenment beyond the material world.

    What did the pyramid shape represent? ›

    The Egyptian sun god Ra, considered the father of all pharaohs, was said to have sat upon a pyramid-shaped mound of earth which had emerged from the primordial sea. The pyramid's shape is thought to have symbolized the sun's rays.

    What was the first symbol of Jesus? ›

    IH monogram

    The first two letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, iota (Ι) and eta (Η), sometime superimposed one on the other, or the numeric value 18 of ΙΗ in Greek, was a well known and very early way to represent Christ. This symbol was already explained in the Epistle of Barnabas and by Clement of Alexandria.

    What was the symbol of God before the cross? ›

    Today, the cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. It was not always so. In the early centuries after the time of Jesus Christ, there were other symbols: a dove, a ship, an anchor and a lyre. The best known of these early symbols is the fish.

    What is the first symbol of God? ›

    Alpha and Omega represent the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and are a symbol for the beginning and the end, and therefore for God and especially for Jesus Christ as the first and the last.

    Do Buddhists believe in God? ›

    Siddhartha Gautama was the first person to reach this state of enlightenment and was, and is still today, known as the Buddha. Buddhists do not believe in any kind of deity or god, although there are supernatural figures who can help or hinder people on the path towards enlightenment.

    What is the Hinduism symbol? ›

    Aum (or Om)

    Is a symbol made up of three Sanskrit letters, A, U, and M. It is the most important symbol in Hinduism as it represents Brahman or god and is believed to be the sound heard at the time of the creation of the universe.

    What is the dot on Buddha's forehead? ›

    An ushnisha is the 3-D oval on top of the Buddha's head and indicates the wisdom of the Buddha. The urna is a dot on his forehead that again stresses the great wisdom of the Buddha. Statues in this pose are usually either a Luohan like the one at the Princeton University Art Museum or Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha.

    Are tattoos forbidden in Buddhism? ›

    Buddhism much like Hinduism is not particularly restrictive when it comes to tattoos. Buddhists believe that the body is impermanent and so are tattoos. Because they are viewed as temporary, getting tattoos doesn't violate any Buddhist doctrines or beliefs.

    What is the symbol of Christianity? ›

    The Crucifix / Cross

    The main symbol of Christianity is the cross; a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus and his passion. In the Bible, Jesus walks with and carries the heavy cross a long way on his way to his crucifixion.

    What are the top 3 Buddhist symbols? ›

    According to Karlsson, three specific signs, the Bodhi tree, the Dharma wheel, and the stupa, occur frequently at all these major sites and thus "the earliest Buddhist cult practice focused on these three objects".

    What are the benefits of wearing Swastik locket? ›

    Sphatik Locket with Swastik is easy to Recognizing , the stone is associated with a great deal of clarity, and transparency as well. The key property that the sphatik crystal has is to allow a wearer to get rid of all the negativity in the environment, so that the positive vibes reach him in a more enhanced manner.

    Why do Buddhists have a red dot? ›

    Bindi in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism is associated with ajna chakra, and Bindu is known as the third eye chakra. Bindu is the point or dot around which the mandala is created, representing the universe. The bindi has a historical and cultural presence in the region of Greater India.

    What does the triple dots mean? ›

    An ellipsis is a punctuation mark of three dots (. . .) that shows an omission of words, represents a pause, or suggests there's something left unsaid.

    What is another word for Swastik? ›

    In this page you can discover 12 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for swastika, like: cross, emblem, hakenkreuz, gammadion, fylfot, hammer-and-sickle, arm band, skull-and-crossbones, insignia, triskelion and union jack.

    What is the synonym of Swastik? ›

    Synonyms of 'swastika'

    crooked cross, fylfot.

    What is the Tokyo Revengers symbol? ›

    Tokyo Revengers is about youth toughs in the Tokyo Manji Gang. The manji symbol (卍), the Buddhist swastika, appears on the Japanese-language manga title and throughout the original anime.

    What is swastik symbol in Hinduism? ›

    The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit roots asti (to prevail), meaning wellbeing, prosperity or good fortune, and has been used in the prayers of the Rig Veda, the oldest of Hindu scriptures.

    Why are there swastikas in Bali? ›

    While a version of the symbol is now infamous as the Nazi symbol, the original swastika is the oldest religious symbol in existence and is found in many cultures and religions. In Balinese Hinduism, it represents good fortune.

    What is the biblical symbol for peace? ›

    The use of a dove as a symbol of peace originated with early Christians, who portrayed baptism accompanied by a dove, often on their sepulchres. The New Testament compared the dove to the Spirit of God that descended on Jesus during his baptism.

    What was the Cherokee symbol? ›

    The seal of the Cherokee Nation was created by an executive Act under Chief Lewis Downing in 1869. The Act calls for the seal to contain a seven-pointed star inside of a wreath of oak leaves, symbolizing the eternal flame of the Cherokee people.

    Which religion is a symbol of peace? ›

    Daoism. Tai symbol of Peace: Daoism, a religion of China, is represented by the symbol of the hexagram Tai from the Classic of Changes (I-Ching/Yijing). It means peace and indicates harmony between earth (the three broken lines) and heaven (the three unbroken lines).

    What is the most important symbol in Buddhism? ›

    The Dharma wheel also represents the Dharma (Buddha's teaching, the ultimate truth). The main idea of this symbol is that the Buddha was seen as a person who "turned the wheel", which signifies a great and revolutionary moment in history (i.e. the teaching of the Buddha's Dharma at Varanasi).

    Can a girl wear Shiva locket? ›

    You can be a man, woman, boy, girl, or still in your school, this locket of Lord Shiva can we wear with a chain made with white gold, gold, silver, or any metal. Also, some people can wear a red or black thread. It is manufactured and designed with pure dedication, divinity, and sanctification towards a lord.

    Can we wear Swastik ring? ›

    If you are suffering from job issues and want to be successful in job then you can wear a Swastik made up of gold or silver. Keep Swastik on your working place or study place to improve focus in your work and study place.

    Can we wear Swastik bracelet? ›

    Swastika is a very important Hindu Symbol. It is important in many other parts of the world. In Hindu religion, Swastika is the most auspicious symbol that stands for peace, prosperity and good luck. The Ethereal Swastika bracelet in silver is best for daily wear.

    Do Buddhists believe in god? ›

    Siddhartha Gautama was the first person to reach this state of enlightenment and was, and is still today, known as the Buddha. Buddhists do not believe in any kind of deity or god, although there are supernatural figures who can help or hinder people on the path towards enlightenment.

    What are the 3 main Buddhist beliefs? ›

    Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion that is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. The main principles of this belief system are karma, rebirth, and impermanence.


    1. The Swastika: A Symbol of Auspiciousness | Hindu American Foundation (HAF)
    (Hindu American Foundation)
    2. How The Entire World Loved The Swastika - Until it gets Misused
    (Indian Monk)
    3. History of Swastika | Understanding It’s TRUE Meaning
    4. The Mystery of the Forest Swastika and the Origin of the Symbol
    (Today I Found Out)
    5. Between Love And Hate: Understanding The Swastika - Isaac Wheeler | Quest 2020
    (Green School Bali)
    6. Is The Swastika An Icon? | Martin Kemp
    (Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press))


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