The swastika symbol at one time was used by many different cultures as a symbol of life, strength and good luck. The symbol was even used in World War I on the American 45th Division and the Finnish air force. The swastika grew popular in Germany in the mid-nineteenth century as it had ancient Aryan/Indian origins and therefore was a great representation of Germanic/Aryan history. It was even used as the official emblem for the German Gymnast’s League by the end of the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century the swastika began to be used to represent German nationalism. Later Hitler decided to use the symbol as the official emblem for the Nazi Party. This resulted in the swastika becoming a symbol of discrimination, violence, hate, and death. Today the there is a bit of a dispute on the meaning of this symbol. For thousands of years the symbol stood for life, and good luck. But, due to Hitler’s effective promotion of this insignia, the symbol has adopted the new meaning of hate and death. The swastika is a commonly used religious symbol for Buddhist and Hindus. Sadly, the swastika’s reputation has been tarnished by the Nazis and remains offensive to many people. A perfect example of how this can be found in an article written by Madhava Smullen. Smullen writes, “In November 1998 Devinder Paul Kaushal, a devout Hindu from New Delhi, found his employment of over twelve years at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency hotel terminated after he used window cleaner to spray a swastika on a mirror he was cleaning. The image was immediately wiped away, but Kaushal's co-workers were taken aback, and complained. Kaushal made efforts to explain to his seniors that in his religion the swastika is a prevalent image associated with auspiciousness. But they were not convinced. He was asked to resign, and when he didn’t, was fired days later.” (Smullen, 2009) Smullen summarizes this entire issue best in a a quote near the conclusion of his article.
“Just because Hitler misused the symbol, abused it and used it to propagate a reign of terror and racism and discrimination, it does not mean that its peaceful use should be banned. That would be equivalent to banning the cross simply because the Klu Klux Klan has used burning crosses.”(Smullen, 2009)
Madhava Smullen, : “The Swastika: A Great symbol of Goodness or Hate?”, ISKCON News Weekly, January 10, 2009: