Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How could it happen? / 2 / Swastika

After reading Karla Poewe's book I find that I have questions.  There is much there that I don't know or hadn't heard about because it seems that whenever we talk about WWII we talk about military, war, and atrocities, but not so much about thinking.  What on earth were they thinking? What were the ideas that moved them?  How did this "voelkisch movement" arise?  How did it gain traction?  How did get into academic circles?  

At the moment, I just want to see how the Swastika of Far East symbolism made it onto the Nazi flag.  The following entries from Wikipedia mentions the same kind of movements, thinking, writing and poets, as Poewe discusses in more detail.  In the mix of ideas at the time, there also figured the theosophical societies, those who felt themselves full of creative genius, especially German genius, as well as those who thought it important to show that German nation is descended from Far East cultures not Near East and Jewish.  I am interested to note that the famous Schliemann comes into this, who after discovering Troy then connects the swastika with religious symbols of our "remote ancestors".  

We will see that everything to do with "ancestors" becomes hugely important in rejecting the Jewish-Christian tradition of Germany's religious and intellectual heritage.  National Socialism was not just anti-Semitic, it was against the entire intellectual and religious heritage and history of the nation, including Christianity that relied on Old or New Testament or confessional standards.  Some of them were alright with a Jesus who could be reshaped into a hero and fighting brave, nothing how the church had presented him over centuries.  The truth, instead, is made to lie in the indo-germanic past.  To the Nazis it needed to be unearthed and re-birthed just like the ruins of Troy.  The Aryans are the master race which needs to triumph in the struggle for survival, along the lines also of Darwin's thinking.  

We can see from this entry that Schliemann had correspondence with a Emile-Louis Burnouf, who was the founder of Buddhist studies in the West and claims to have rediscovered the early Aryan belief system. He was a leading 19th century Orientalist and racialist whose ideas influenced the development of theosophy and Aryanism. 

Burnouf claimed that swastika originated as a stylised depiction of a fire-altar seen from above, and was thus the essential symbol of the Aryan race. The popularisation of this idea by Schliemann and Burnouf was mainly responsible for the adoption of the swastika in the West as an Aryan symbol.

He claimed that Aryians are really pantheist, as a race, and says that this is proved by science (!), but that Semites are monotheist and clinging to a certain creation account.  So therefore, Christianity does not fit into the Aryan race unless Jesus becomes a kind of Aryan.  (Or something like that.  One would have to read Burnouf to get his opinions straight, but I believe we have heard quite enough, already, to make a judgement.)

The battle of survival and the search for honor for the fittest and best became especially cogent after the defeat in WWI and the humiliations associated with it.  The Aryan should assert himself and his belief system.

The Swastika really stands there instead of the cross, trying to replace the cross.  The cross had to go.  The Jesus of the Bible had to go. 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Quotes below from Wikipedia on entries about the Swastika symbolism adopted by National Socialism. 

Besides the use as a religious symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, which can be traced to pre-modern traditions, the swastika is also used by a number of new religious movements established in the modern period.
  • The Theosophical Society uses a swastika as part of its seal, along with an Om, a hexagram or star of David, an Ankh and an Ouroboros. Unlike the much more recent Raëlian movement (see below), the Theosophical Society symbol has been free from controversy, and the seal is still used. The current seal also includes the text "There is no religion higher than truth."[99]

In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans. He connected it with similar shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a "significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors", linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures.[50][51] By the early 20th century, it was used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and success.
The work of Schliemann soon became intertwined with the völkisch movements, for which the swastika was a symbol of the "Aryan race", a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg with a Nordic master race originating in northern Europe. Since its adoption by the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, the swastika has been associated with Nazism, fascism, racism (white supremacy), the Axis powers in World War II, and the Holocaust in much of the West. The swastika remains a core symbol of Neo-Nazi groups, and is used regularly by activist groups.

Since World War II, the swastika is often associated with the flag of Nazi Germanyand the Nazi Party in theWestern world.
In the wake of widespread popular usage, the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) formally adopted the swastika (in German: Hakenkreuz (hook-cross)) in 1920. This was used on the party's flag (right), badge, and armband.
In his 1925 work Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote that: 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.
When Hitler created a flag for the Nazi Party, he sought to incorporate both the swastika and "those revered colors expressive of our homage to the glorious past and which once brought so much honor to the German nation." (Red, white, and black were the colors of the flag of the old German Empire.) He also stated: "As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. In red, we see the socialidea of the movement; in white, the nationalistic idea; in the swastika, 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."[64]
The swastika was also understood as "the symbol of the creating, acting life" (das Symbol des schaffenden, wirkenden Lebens) and as "race emblem of Germanism" (Rasseabzeichen des Germanentums).[65]
The use of the swastika was incorporated by Nazi theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people. Following the Nordicist version of the Aryan invasion theory, the Nazis claimed that the early Aryans of India, from whose Vedic tradition the swastika sprang, were the prototypical white invaders. The concept of racial purity was an ideology central to Nazism, though it is now considered unscientific. For Alfred Rosenberg, the Aryans of India were both a model to be imitated and a warning of the dangers of the spiritual and racial "confusion" that, he believed, arose from the close proximity of races. Thus, they saw fit to co-opt the sign as a symbol of the Aryan master race. The use of the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race dates back to writings of Emile Burnouf. Following many other writers, the German nationalist poet Guido von List believed it to be a uniquely Aryan symbol.

Indische Legion and swastika, 1942
Before the Nazis, the swastika was already in use as a symbol of German völkisch nationalist movements (Völkische Bewegung). In Deutschland Erwache (ISBN 0-912138-69-6), Ulric of England (sic) says:
[...] what inspired Hitler to use the swastika as a symbol for the NSDAP was its use by the Thule Society (German: Thule-Gesellschaft) since there were many connections between them and the DAP ... from 1919 until the summer of 1921 Hitler used the special Nationalsozialistische library of Dr. Friedrich Krohn, a very active member of the Thule-Gesellschaft ... Dr. Krohn was also the dentist from Sternberg who was named by Hitler in Mein Kampf as the designer of a flag very similar to one that Hitler designed in 1920 ... during the summer of 1920, the first party flag was shown at Lake Tegernsee ... these home-made ... early flags were not preserved, the Ortsgruppe München (Munich Local Group) flag was generally regarded as the first flag of the Party.
José Manuel Erbez says:
The first time the swastika was used with an "Aryan" meaning was on December 25, 1907, when the self-named Order of the New Templars, a secret society founded by [Adolf Joseph] Lanz von Liebenfels, hoisted at Werfenstein Castle (Austria) a yellow flag with a swastika and four fleurs-de-lys.[66]
However, Liebenfels was drawing on an already established use of the symbol. On March 14, 1933, shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany, the NSDAP flag was hoisted alongside Germany's national colors. It was adopted as the sole national flag on September 15, 1935 (see Nazi Germany).

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