Found an interesting resource on the various theories on the source of the swastika as the symbol for the Nazis at http://www.intelinet.org/swastika/swastika_intro.htm
Worth a look because it includes a lot of party history.
Also, worth the price of admission is some helpful terminology in describing the bloody things.
The Buddhist destroverse or clockwise swastika is the symbol of good fortune and well-being and all that good stuff. But here’s the thing: when describing which way the legs of the swastika are pointing, it’s the reverse of what you instinctually think is meant by pointing. To use the terms properly, imagine the swastika as a pinwheel and the legs are the rockets. A “good” destroverse swastika would be one that would rotate clockwise if the rockets were lit.
The design for a Party symbol submitted by Dr. Friedrich Krohn was the “good” clockwise swastika. It was Hitler that reversed it.
Hitler gives his own account: “Actually, a dentist from Starnberg did deliver a design that was not bad after 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.”
“The majority of the Nazi leaders accepted Krohn’s design, but Hitler insisted on a sinistroverse or anti-clockwise one and changed the design accordingly…”
Is it because he didn’t want to utilize Native American or Irish or Greek or Indian [or just about any other culture that thought wheels were neat] designs as the symbol for the Party? Or was something else at work?
Well, check out http://abacus.best.vwh.net/oro/oro51.html to see the Emblem of the Theosophical Society, from H.P. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Glossary, 1892
There it is at the top, the sinistroverse swastika. But now, wait a dang minute. Was Blavatsky unaware of what the sinistroverse swastika was about?
Here’s some helpful technical terminology. The restroverse (clockwise) symbol is properly called a swastika. The sinistroverse (counter- or anti-clockwise) symbol should be called a sauvastika, since that is the
Indian name for it.
Therefore, the symbol of the Nazi Party should properly be called a sauvastika.
“The swastika represents, among many other things, the eternal movement and spiritual renewal. The counterclockwise swastika adopted by the Nazis is regarded as symbolizing movement “away from the Godhead,” and has become a contemporary motif of evil, while the clockwise swastika represents movement towards God and suggests a cosmic rhythm in tune with the Universe. (See Nevill Drury, Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult . San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985, 248-249).”
“The left has always been associated with evil. Black magic is also called “the Left-hand Path”. Moving to the left in magic is always done with evil intent and it is supposed to attract evil influences. Some spells work only if you move to the left while repeating them.”
Anyhow, the version where Krohn proposed the swastika and Hitler changed it to a sauvastika is from “Mein Kampf.” He doesn’t give any reason for flipping it around and simply talks about how ancient and benevolent and powerful a symbol it was.
Other scholars give the opinion that the symbol was proposed by Karl Haushofer. They make a good case. Haushofer was sent to Japan by the army in 1908 to study the Japanese army and to be an artillery instructor. He traveled extensively throughout the Far East and undoubtedly saw the swastika utilized in architectural motifs. He became proficient enough to translate several Hindu and Buddhist texts, and became an authority in Oriental mysticism. Some authors even believe that he was the leader of a secret community of Initiates in a current of Satanism through which he sought to raise Germany to world power, though these occult connections have been denied.
Sheesh, there doesn’t seem to be an occult group he wasn’t rumored to be a member of. The Thule Society, the Vril Society, the Luminous Lodge, the Golden Dawn… he is rumored to be the fella that convinced Hess to make a direct contact with the Duke of Hamilton, a Scottish member of the Golden Dawn to make a peace treaty between Germany and England. Some authors claim that he was active with the Green Dragon Society while in Japan.
Well, rather than standing trial at Nuremberg, he committed seppuku in the traditional manner.
Ah, but young Adolph encountered swastikas before either of those other fellas came along. When he was a young student with the Benedictins at the Abbey of Lambach-am-Traum, in upper Austria he undoubtedly saw the swastikas that had been added to the architecture and objects at the command of the previous abbot, Theodorich Hagen.
An accomplished occultist and specialist on the Apocalypse of Saint John, Hagen had traveled throughout the Near East.
“While Hitler was a student at the abbey, an enigmatic Cistercian monk named Adolf Joseph Lanz made a stay at Lambach. He stayed for several weeks, shut up in the monastery, thoroughly researching and studying Father Hagen’s personal papers. The monks affirm that during his mysterious research he evidenced the signs of great agitation, like of a person who had made a great discovery.
After his visit to Abbey, Lanz returned to Vienna, where the following year (1900) he founded the Order of the New Templars.”
Swastikas did get some exposure in Germany on the helmets and vehicles of the Freikorps, a quasi-military force that replaced the banned German Army after World I. It is believed that among the Freikorps fighters there was a small secret cell of members of the Thule Society.
The Freikorps had impeccable anti-Communist credentials after putting down several Communist rebellions in 1919, and many former members became part of the groups that later formed the Nazis.
Did Hitler insist on the sauvastika to distinguish the Nazis from any other swastika’d organization or society, or was there deliberation in choosing the left-hand version? Or was the choice of the sauvastika an intentional reference to the Theosophists? There is that danged Blavatsky emblem to account for.
It gets confusing. Most of the works on symbolism agree that the swastika (clockwise) is good, and the direction of the legs is not an arbitrary thing. Reverse the swastika to sauvastika to reverse the meaning. Blavatsky would be aware of this, which means she purposely chose an “evil” symbol as an element of the Theosophical Society emblem. There were more than enough occultists on hand to inform Hitler of the meaning if he somehow was unaware of the significance of his change. This would have been in the early days when presumably you could still talk to the guy; he wasn’t the Fuhrer yet.
More basic is the “Sunwheel” – an image of a spinning sun.