Adolf has left the building
How many 'Adolfs' do you know?
Yeah, me neither.
The use of Adolf as a given name has drastically declined following the regime of Nazi Germany and its Führer, Adolf Hitler, and it has since been a
widely avoided name for newborn boys due to this negative association. Even those born with the name before or during the Nazi Regime have often
attempted to hide or sometimes change their name, which is why you find yourself wearing Adidas
trainers and not 'Adolfdas' trainers.
But it wasn't just the Germans who were effected – even the French version, Adolphe, which was a common name in France, has virtually disappeared.
Adolfo, the Italian version of the name, has suffered a similar fate.
Okay, maybe not a big deal. But it's related to my main point.
All eccentric arm gestures lead to Rome
No, these children are not expressing their obedience to the Führer. They are in fact pledging their allegiance to a much more dangerous, blood
thirsty and brutal entity – the Republic of the United States of America! This was the original salute that accompanied the American Pledge of
Allegiance , adopted in 1892, it was called the Bellamy salute after it's inventor, Francis Bellamy. In 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt
instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute that would replace the Bellamy inspired one.
It can be argued that it was the Romans who started the trend...sort of. Jacques-Louis David's painting The Oath of the Horatii
the starting point for the gesture that became later known as the Roman salute and eventually became the Bellamy salute/Nazi Salute.
[The Roman salute]...is a well known symbol of fascism that is commonly perceived to be based on a custom in ancient Rome. However, no Roman text
gives this description and the Roman works of art that display salutational gestures bear little resemblance to the modern "Roman salute".
Currently, use of this form of greeting constitutes a criminal offence in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Depending on the circumstances, the
greeting might constitute a criminal offence in Sweden as a hate speech act.
Swasti-can or Swasti-cant?
From: Odinism and the Swastika Controversy
Perhaps no symbol in the world is so denigrated and misunderstood as is this Holy Symbol.
To illustrate this, just look at your own reaction to the title of this article, or more precisely, your emotional and mental reaction to that one
word SWASTIKA. What mental images came to your mind? What emotional response? What chain of thoughts arose? Look at these dispassionately and be
The swastika is the ultimate example of how history, even ancient history, can be changed forever through negative connotation. As the article points
out, it is very likely that some of you did experience some responses which could be considered negative or emotional, for there is no other symbol so
misunderstood, or which triggers such an emotional reaction.
Hitler stated that “in the swastika,[he saw] the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of
the idea of creative work." Hitler had borrowed the symbol from the Thule Society, who had incorporated it into their official logo somewhere between
1911 and 1919.
Of course, Hitler took the symbol and twisted it's meaning to fit his own racist ideology, but what of the swastika before this historical
Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient India as well as Classical
Antiquity. One of the earliest examples of the swastika can be found on a pottery bowl attributed to the Samarra culture that flourished in Northern
Mesopotamia, and is date to around 4000 BC.
It's use can be found world-wide and there are a couple of really interesting theories as to why this is:
Carl Sagan in his book Comet (1985) reproduces Han period Chinese manuscript (the Book of Silk, 2nd century BC) that shows comet tail varieties:
most are variations on simple comet tails, but the last shows the comet nucleus with four bent arms extending from it, recalling a swastika. Sagan
suggests that in antiquity a comet could have approached so close to Earth that the jets of gas streaming from it, bent by the comet's rotation,
became visible, leading to the adoption of the swastika as a symbol across the world.
In Life's Other Secret (1999), Ian Stewart suggests the ubiquitous swastika pattern arises when parallel waves of neural activity sweep across the
visual cortex during states of altered consciousness, producing a swirling swastika-like image, due to the way quadrants in the field of vision are
mapped to opposite areas in the brain.
The word swastika itself came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and
things to denote good luck.
It is ironic, yet tremendously significant, that the swastika - this ancient spiritual symbol that symbolises spiritual victory and attainment of
the goal of human existence - was appropriated by a force that used it for exactly the opposite reasons - to enslave and brutalise human beings.
It was, and still is, being somewhat misused to this very day. A deliberate marketing/promotional technique is to place a Swastika upon the front
cover of a book, such is the lure of the Swastika. In the 1980s a study found that by including a swastika in their cover illustration sales could
rise by 10% - a very large margin. Very few of these cover designs depicted the real meaning; instead it was cynically used as a marketing ploy.
Rudyard Kipling is an example of someone who used the swastika on his books in a positive
(Covers of two of Kiplings books from 1919 (l) and 1930 (r))
Rudyard Kipling's books have a swastika printed on their covers associated with a picture of an elephant carrying a lotus flower. Since the 1930s this
has raised the possibility of Kipling being mistaken for a Nazi-sympathiser, though the Nazi party did not adopt the swastika until 1920. Kipling
ordered the engraver to remove it from the printing block so that he should not be thought of as supporting them.
However, many forget that the symbol is still used to this very day and in it's original context. It remains widely used in Indian Religions,
specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Putting it into Perspective - The Crusades
Looks harmless, doesn't it?
It should also look somewhat familiar, for, in your daily coming and goings, you wont go long without seeing one. Be it hanging on a chain around
somebodys neck, stood atop a church spire or even tattoed into someones flesh – odds are you have seen one at some point today.
The Christian Cross is not shunned, not so denigrated - yet for centuries it has been used as a device by organisations bent on slaughter. The
Crusades are a perfect example of this - a series of religiously sanctioned military campaigns, called by the Pope and with the main goal of
restoring Christian control of the Holy Land. Not only did those who fought in the crusades carry the cross upon their garments they also physically
carried the cross into battle. Some historians claim that 9 million people died during the crusades, others place the number closer to 1 million, but
hey...what's 8 million deaths between friends?
An even more prudent example is the Ku Klux Klan. Very similar to the Nazi's, they hijacked a religious symbol, the Christian cross - a symbol of
healing, sacrifice, reconciliation, hope, love – and turned it into a symbol of white supremacy and a tool for the intimidation and harassment of
racial minorities, Catholics, Jews, Communists, and any other groups hated by the Klan.
And yet the Christian Cross is not shunned? It becomes even more illogical when you consider that the millions of deaths that resulted from the
Crusades were dealt in the name of the cross
. The cross and everything it stood for. The millions of deaths that came as a result of the Nazi's
ideology had next to nothing to do with the Swastika, no matter how much Hitler tried to twist the truth to make it seem so.
Reclaiming The Swastika
Of course, the name Adolf is an individuals personal choice, and lets be honest, there are plenty of other names to choose from. Even without the
negative connotations it would probably have died out. Like the name Alfred or Ethel, it was never going to compete with the little Brads and
Angelina's that are running around today.
The arm gesture, too, is something that we can go without. And thanks to a certain Charlie Chaplin the gesture itself has become something far more
harmless...silly even...than it used to be.
The same approach has been attempted for the Swastika. A book featuring "120 Funny Swastika Cartoons" was published in 2008 by New York Cartoonist Sam
Gross. The author said he created the cartoons in response to excessive news coverage given to swastika vandals, that his intent "...is to reduce
the swastika to something humorous."
But in this instance it is the wrong approach to take. Making the Swastika humorous is just as bad as making it hated and completely demeans the
original meaning and spiritual importance of it. It is not something to be feared and it is not something to be laughed at. It is a symbol we should
It has history
. It has a deep, spiritual meaning
. And no matter what horrific acts of violence and oppression the Nazi's did under it's
banner, the Swastika is innocent on all counts.
Which is why I find it absolutely ridiculous that the EU wanted to ban the Swastika
even more ironic when you consider how they themselves have been called Nazis.
Thankfully, it failed.
In the computer game Call of Duty: Black Ops players are allowed to customize their name tags to represent, essentially, whatever they want. The
swastika can be
created and used. The people at Microsoft stated that players with the symbol on their name tag will be banned (if someone
reports as inappropriate) from Xbox Live. I wonder if I would be banned for using the Hindu version of the Swastika I have in my avatar as my game
Are we really going to let 6 years of madness ruin 6000 years of history? I say the Swastika needs to be revived, we need to reclaim it as the symbol
of good luck and grace that it once stood for.
All people need to do is let go of the recent past and delve into the distant past. A new understanding of it's origins and meanings needs to be
taught. Ignoring it in the childish hope it will go away is counter productive and only serves those who still use it wrongly today.
After all, it's only as offensive as you let it be.
edit on 23/8/2011 by LiveForever8 because: (no reason given)