Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #257 - Swastika and the Aryan Christ
Why did Hitler "appropriate" a Hindu/Buddhist spiritual symbol in his anti-Semitic inquisition? Why are White Christian Supremacists so drawn to Nazis? Current narratives don't make sense. Lets look.
“There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
We have always been told that “Hitler appropriated Swastika for his propaganda.”
Why did he use the symbol that he did? What did he call it? Why? What was its meaning? And significance?
Many have written about the superficial stuff. It doesn’t help much though. Many unanswered questions linger still.
Why did he need just that version of Cross? Why a Cross at all? Why did he want to float the Aryan idea? How did the Aryan race idea help in his supremacist ways?
If he hated the Jews, then why was an Eastern/Hindu spiritual symbol used as the central logo of his organization?
More importantly, why are the White Supremacist Right Wing Christians so drawn to a bastardized version of an Eastern spiritual symbol?
Why is the Nazi ideology so appealing and attractive to every extremist White Christian Supremacist?
We have been fed absolute nonsense. The stories did not make any sense. Let us look deeper and find out the answers to these questions.
Banning “Swastika and Nazi Symbols”
Victoria is a southeastern state in Australia with Melbourne as its capital. It’s parliamentary council is working to ban Swastika.
This morning, a Victorian parliamentary committee will announce its decision on whether the swastika and other Nazi symbols should be banned from public display. (Source)
They want to put a ban on “Swastika and other Nazi symbols.”
Swastika is an integral part of the Hindu, Buddhist and other Eastern spiritual practices and rituals. Many people want to put up Swastika on the front of their homes and temples. Many rituals are started by creating designs based on Swastika.
The Jews, however, have a painful history with the Nazis. And, it is understandable that those symbols, chants and rituals that were followed by the Nazis are part of the White Right Wing supremacist framework.
Now, what needs to be looked at is - did Hitler use Swastika or not? What was Hitler using and why?
And, how is it that a symbol which is part of spiritual traditions of the East come to be so integral to the Christian right-wing militant forces?
Based on this, we hope that the Indians generally and Buddhists and Hindus can frame the concerns properly in context of the History and why the Nazi symbols hold so much romance even now for the extreme right-wing Christians!
Let us look at this whole debate and the “canceling” of the ancient symbol of not just Dharmic/Hindu Civilization but also most Eastern spiritual practices on the basis of facts.
Just as the proponents of the anti-Nazi-ism want the Swastika to be “beyond redemption” simply because Hitler used it, let us - putting historical information in perspective - say that Hakenkreuz was actually a form of the Christian cross and so going forward, it is not the Swastika, but the Christian Cross that needs to be banned for it is the symbol of Jewish persecution.
Sounds outlandish? It isn’t.
Is it really Swastika?
The Japanese Buddhist Priest Toshikazu Kenjitsu Nakagaki wrote in his book “Transforming The Symbol Of The “Swastika”: A Bright Lotus Flower Grows Out Of The Dark Muddy Swamp Of History” about how different versions and forms of similar symbols have been used and perceived over history.
He gives examples of how Swastika is an integral part of the Japanese Buddhist symbology.
In the introduction to his book, Nakagaki explains the incorrect use of Swastika in place of the original Nazi Hakenkreuz terminology.
The usage of the swastika in Mein Kampf is discussed in detail, to clarify Hitler’s intentions for the symbol, and to show that Hitler did not use the word swastika, a common word in German, but intentionally used the word “Hakenkreuz”(Hook-Cross). My discussion then focuses on the two basic intended meanings of the Hook-Cross symbol by Hitler. His first intention, the ‘Aryan’ Hook-Cross is discussed in terms of Max Muller’s contribution to the idea of “Aryan.” His second intention, the ‘Anti-Semitic’ Hook-Cross, is discussed in the context of the influences of Martin Luther and Richard Wagner. These discussions lead to the conclusion that Hitler’s Hook-Cross was a new German Christian ‘cross’ of Nazi Germany, and should not be confused with the Eastern swastika. (Source)
Nakagaki explains in his book how in Europe, for example, the Swastika and Hakenkreuz were used during the Pre-Christian and Christian eras. In pre-Christian times, it was known as Swarzyca.
So how did Hitler start using this symbol for his propaganda?
Adopting the Hakenkreuz
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler describes how he decided upon the symbol as his effort’s mainstay.
The first English translation of Mein Kampf was done in March 1939. Hurst and Blackett/Hutchinson published the first British unexpurgated version of Mein Kampf (download link). 32,000 copies had been sold until August. In 1942, the press, which continued to print the copies, was destroyed in a German air raid. (Source)
We tried to use the German version and used Google to translate the passages with references to Hakenkreuz. The first part is in German and then a translation of the same thing via the Google Translation tool.
Just see how Hinduphobia is promoted via the tech tools.
Tatsächlich hat ein Zahnarzt aus Starnberg auch einen gar nicht schlechten Entwurf geliefert, der übrigens dem meinen ziemlich nahekam, nur den einen Fehler hatte, daß das Hakenkreuz mit gebogenen Haken in eine weiße Scheibe hineinkomponiert war. Ich selbst hatte unterdes nach unzähligen Versuchen eine endgültige Form niedergelegt; eine Fahne aus rotem Grundtuch mit einer weißen Scheibe und in deren Mitte ein schwarzes Hakenkreuz. Nach langen Versuchen fand ich auch ein bestimmtes Verhältnis zwischen der Größe der Fahne und der Größe der weißen Scheibe sowie der Form und Stärke des Hakenkreuzes. Und dabei ist es dann geblieben. In gleichem Sinne wurden nun sofort Armbinden für die Ordnungsmannschaften in Auftrag gegeben, und zwar eine rote Binde, auf der sich ebenfalls die weiße Scheibe mit schwarzem Hakenkreuz befindet. (Page 556: “Die nationalsozialistische Flagge”)
Indeed, a dentist did it Starnberg also delivered a not at all bad design, which, by the way, came pretty close to mine, just that had a mistake that the swastika with curved Hook was composed into a white disk. Meanwhile, after countless attempts, I had one myself final form laid down; a flag of red Basic cloth with a white disc and in the middle a black swastika. After long trials, I found also a certain ratio between the size of the Flag and the size of the white disc as well as the shape and strength of the swastika. And that's where it stayed. In the same sense, armbands were now immediately available for the Security teams commissioned, one red band on which the white disc is also located black swastika.
Hitler never called it Swastika. He called it the “Hooked Cross.”
Do you see how the Eastern and Hindu symbology has been intertwined with the Nazi symbol, while its original roots are wiped out?
Refurbished Christ and Nazi domination of the Church
On proper examination, it comes out that not only was the origin of Hakenkreuz from Christian symbology, but it was central to Hitler’s attempt at forging a new German Christian identity.
That is why Hitler never called it Swastika himself. His movement was not about the Aryan race per se. But about a new Christian identity! Aryan identity was just a ruse to create a whole new Christ going forward!
Central to the Nazi identity was a word - Völkisch.
What is it?
It is an often misunderstood word and simply brushed off as denoting racist groups. The fact is that it was a way to describe the German Christian (or Deutsche Christen) identity.
“a historically bound word; it reflects a way of thinking that emphasizes the ethnic, racial group—the Volk—and is obsessed with its preservation and advancement.” Since Christianity forms part of the identity of the Völkisch, opposition to Judaism becomes part of the struggle for existence. Judaism becomes not just an ideological opposition to Christianity, but an existential threat to the preservation of the racial integrity of the Volk. (Source)
Nationalism and Socialist ideologies were coming together with the National Socialist party of Hitler. It was taking a leaf off of the Communist ideology but did not want to part ways with religion - specifically Christianity - completely. Based on this heady mix, a new religious identity and structure were being forged.
Like the National Socialists, the Deutsche Christen, or German Christians, have their roots in the postwar Weimar Republic. The movement began with the intention of incorporating post-war nationalism with traditional Christian theology.1 The waves of nationalism brought about by the dissolution of the German Empire spread beyond political thought and into religious ideas. Protestant theologians feared that Christianity retained many elements that were not “German” enough, such as the Jewishness of Jesus, the canonicity of the Hebrew Bible, and the subservient nature of Christian ethics. 2 These fears led to dialogues among the clergy and laity about the future and possible modification of Christian doctrine. (Source)
This new Christian doctrine was not benign. It had a goal. Destruction of Jews.
Anti-semitic Christ and Church
The German Christian identity hinged on Baptism during the Nazi time. It was Baptism that differentiated between Heroes and Heretics. Watch this.
Hitler wanted to ensure that the German Christians took a leadership role in the Protestant movement in Germany.
A Christianity infused with Völkisch.
So the main agenda was to win the Prussia Church elections. Hitler’s ascent and the passing of Enabling Act, 1933 pushed the German Christian movement to win church leadership. The German Christians taking all but three of the regional Protestant Bishoprics. Hitler enabled it by personally making radio broadcasts.
The Protestant movement was being taken over by the National Socialist Party of Hitler. Christ was to be decoupled from Judaism and Jews were to be made the enemies.
Baptism was the test.
Also, Old Testament was to be thrown out and Jesus was being fashioned as an Aryan, away from his Hebrew lineage.
Gerhard Hahn writes in his book Christuskreuz und Hakenkreuz, Schriftenreihe der “Deutschen Christen” (Source) - this is an English translation.
The cross of Christ and the (swastika) Hakenkreuz do not need to oppose each other, and must not do so, but rather they can and should stand together. One should not dominate the other, but rather each should maintain its own meaning and significance.
The cross of Christ points toward heaven and admonishes us:
Remember that you are Christian people, carried by the eternal love of the heavenly father, free through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, sanctified by the power of God’s spirit.
The (swastika) Hakenkreuz, however, points to the world as a divine creation and admonishes us:
Remember that you are German, born in German territory to parents of German blood, filled with the German spirit and essence, formed according to German nature.
Both together, however, the cross of Christ and the (swastika) Hakenkreuz, admonish us:
Remember that you are German Christian people and should become ever more whole German Christian people, and remain so!
[the original text of the translation uses ‘swastika’, when the German text uses the word Hakenkreuz. So, we have added it to keep the sanctity of the translation that the writer of the original piece missed doing]
The special credo of German Christians - Germans were the special people who were on earth to complete the singular mission of Jesus Christ - the annihilation of the Jewish threat! (Source)
An institute was set up towards this end. “Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life,” led by Siegfried Leffler. Bishops, theologians, bishops, pastors, and professors were part of that group.
Aryan Christ - Hitler as the Führer
As new symbols were being drafted in, the theology of Christianity was in play for the new German Christian identity.
Hitler was being fashioned into the Aryan Christ.
Susannah Heschel wrote a seminal book where she explored the relationship between Christianity and Nazis. It is titled “The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany.”
Was Jesus a Nazi? During the Third Reich, German Protestant theologians, motivated by racism and tapping into traditional Christian anti-Semitism, redefined Jesus as an Aryan and Christianity as a religion at war with Judaism. In 1939, these theologians established the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Religious Life. In The Aryan Jesus, Susannah Heschel shows that during the Third Reich, the Institute became the most important propaganda organ of German Protestantism, exerting a widespread influence and producing a nazified Christianity that placed anti-Semitism at its theological center.
Susannah discusses Jesus and Judaism and also how the Christians of today (educated and scholarly ones at that) still find the idea that he was a Rabbi revolting! Anti-Semitism is that deeply ingrained into the Christian theology and popular understanding.
In his book Third Reich Pilgrim, Karl Young writes about how Adolf Hitler was compared not just to Jesus but actually also the Holy Ghost. The symbolism was tightly intertwined with the Hakenkreuz, a symbol of his version of Christianity.
Let us understand the whole picture now.
The Aryan identity had very little to do with the “Indian Aryan race” in Hitler’s eyes. Its utility was more to usurp Jesus and Christian theology to create an anti-Semitic basis for annihilating all the Jews.
The Aryan identity was just a peg. The real work was to create a new Christian identity that was anti-thetical to Judaism and Jews.
Hakenkreuz represented that new Christian identity.
A Christianity which is anti-Semitic and favors the destruction of Jews. Hooked Cross was, therefore, the new Cross.
Representing the Aryan Christ (as opposed to Hebrew Christ) and the Holy Ghost - Adolf Hitler.
That is why Hitler and the Nazis never called the symbol - Swastika. Even when the Polish society did have the word for it in Swarzyca.
So when all the translations use Swastika for Hitler’s Hakenkreuz - they do two things:
Paint Hinduism and all the Eastern Spiritual practices black - by associating it with someone who had absolutely no relationship nor love for them when he came up with the symbol of Hakenkreuz (Hooked Cross)
Wash Christianity off of all its relationship to the Nazi movement of which it was the central aspect. Protestant Church was led by Nazi Germans with the aim to fashion its theology into the anti-Semitic direction.
When some Leftists go around asking to ban Swastika, as opposed to Hakenkreuz and making the Protestant Christian Church accountable - it is a double whammy for Hindus and the Eastern spiritual seekers!
They are being punished for the crimes of someone who had a religious agenda that he wanted to fulfill via a certain theological revolution within Christianity! He had no truck with the Eastern traditions nor any love for them.
While this kind of “Cancel” movement - as is happening in Victoria, Australia - aims to hit at the Hindus, it lets the Christians go scot-free despite all the components related to anti-Semitism that Hitler used unabashedly, still being an integral part of the many denominational Christian theologies!
So banning the “Swastika” will not help against anti-Semitism. It will simply be an eye-wash! The real malady lingers.
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