Many a World War II-based game will not use a swastika to symbolise the Nazis, instead using the Iron Cross (still a symbol of today's German Army, Bundeswehr, albeit a modified version), the red-white-black tricolor of the 1871-1918 German Empire, or alternatively the Balkenkreuz (pictured at right).
There's a simple reason for this — in Germany, Russia and some other countries the display of anything Nazi-related in public is prohibited unless it's for educational, artistic or scientific purposes, plus a lot of other contexts. This allows for the use of these symbols in World War II-set films (which are considered art — yes, even Indiana Jones). Children's toys are not covered by these exceptions.
Video games are also considered art, but this development occurred only very recently. Consequently, Nazi symbols are still not used in games released in Germany, probably due to developers worldwide being so accustomed to being unable to put them in the games, and thus voluntarily continuing the tradition of an utter lack of Nazi symbols themselves. It saves money to have only one version, avoids losing a market with over 80 million residents and if the game is online, it makes sure that the German version is compatible with that of the rest of the world.
Use of the associated expressions, such as "Sieg Heil!" are also banned.
German Neo-Nazi groups choose to use symbols of Imperial Germany instead, which highly annoys German monarchist groups.
However, practically no one in English-speaking cultures knows this. Thus this trope, which often leads to censorship of swastikas in contexts that have nothing to do with the Nazis. Not only were the Nazis, well, Nazis, they were also plagiarists (unless they were time travelers). When people in English-speaking countries hear that there are No Swastikas because of German censorship, this may lead to Unfortunate Implications as an obvious conclusion is that " the Germans are trying to push revisionist history and pretend the Nazis were never in power!"
That said, the older tradition about Buddhist and Hinduist swastikas, used as a protective symbol, can sometimes be found in supernatural series like Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The X-Files.
There was even a real life instance during the Rape of Nanjing when the German businessman (He worked for Siemens, and was also a Nazi Party Member) John Rabe set up a protected area for refugees from the Japanese terror under the German flag, with its big swastika. Thus for thousands of Chinese, even the Nazi swastika returned to its Hindu meaning.
Many countries have similar bans on the display of "totalitarian symbols" - Hungary, for instance, bans the display of the symbols of the Nazis, the Soviets, and the Arrow Cross Party. Lithuania has passed a similar law recently—also extending it to Soviet symbols. And Latvia was warned in 2006 not to put swastikas — an ancient propitious symbol for them, too — on gifts intended for NATO ambassadors. After all, the Germans wouldn't have been able to take them back home...
Recently, the export market has become increasingly important for Japanese creators of Anime and Manga. Despite the fact that swastikas are okay in Japan due to their original Buddhist significance, many creators are nonetheless preemptively avoiding swastikas in order to make their works easier to export. Recent examples include Naruto where the swastika on Neji's forehead was changed to an X and One Piece where Whitebeard's logo was changed from a swastika to a cross. While it may seem like these changes were Bowdlerization by foreign localizers, these changes were actually mandated by Japanese executives, presumably so that foreign localizers wouldn't have to go through the trouble of doing the Bowdlerization themselves.
There is one particularly annoying case with the swastika when it is used as a Buddhist symbol of peace. It's shaped like a straightened Swastika but may be mirrored compared to the Nazi swastika (clockwise or counterclockwise vs. the Nazi swastika's invariably clockwise), which leads to confusion in Western countries, as well as the Moral Guardians running around like headless chickens whenever one appears.
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Anime & Manga
In the manga series Naruto, Neji Hyuuga has a seal with a manji on his forehead. In the anime version, the mark was changed to resemble a simple "X". This is also the case with Hizashi Hyuga, resurrected by Kabuto's Edo Tensei spell.
While the monthly releases of the English manga have the manji symbols replaced with x's, the symbols are retained in the volume releases, as can be seen here.
In YuYu Hakusho, one of the contenders in Genkai's tournament has a manji tattoo on his forehead. Naturally, it was edited from the Toonami airing on Cartoon Network.
The Abridged Series lampshades it during his fight; Yusuke calls him a Nazi then his opponent corrects him by saying it's a Buddhist mark (which the swastika was, until Hitler warped it into the symbol of hatred and evil most of the world know it as today).
The manga version keeps it, but drops a long footnote explaining how it is most certainly not a Swastika in the first panel in which he appeared.
In One Piece, the symbol of the White Beard pirates in the manga originally had a Manji in it, but the anime adaptation changed it to a cross, and it was changed later on in the manga with an in-story Hand Wave.
Ichigo's sword's quillon is swastika-shaped. In keeping with the Buddhist symbolism for harmony of spirit, Ichigo's journey through the manga has been one of seeking balance and harmony with three different aspects of his soul. For much of the manga, this quillon only appears when he enters bankai. This is almost a pun as the kanji for "ban" in bankai is the manji symbol (which means "complete" or "final", although another interpretation of "Bankai" can indeed read as "Final Solution"). In the US version, this was all left in. However, in the Fullbringer arc, when Ichigo's power develops the shape of his sword's quillon, the anime changes the shape slightly to a square. This is curious, since the anime retains the true shape on Ichigo's bankai sword.
The Quincies have always had extremely strong Teutonic Knight themes. When they modernise, their Teutonic Knight themes morph into Nazi themes that also possess very heavy Imperial Germany overtones. This creates a military uniform that is extremely similar to the Nazi uniform and an organisational hierarchy that is inspired more by the German Empire than Nazi Germany. The new Quincy Cross is influenced by the Iron Cross, not the swastika. So far, despite the Nazi themes of the Wandenreich, the swastika itself has barely been associated with them and predominantly remains Ichigo's symbol who is revealed by the Wandenreich to be half-Quincy, half-Shinigami, and his bankai which had always possessed the swastika/manji symbol, was originally mostly powered by his Quincy abilities not his Shinigami abilities.
In Mobile Suit Gundam the cries of "Sieg Zeon!" at the state funeral of Garma Zabi and at all other points were changed to "Hail Zeon!" for the English language version. This may have been somewhat more effective if the Zabis weren't so blatantly NazisIN SPACE!.
Ginias Sahalin in the English dub of the 08th MS Team also uses "Sieg Zeon!" as a rallying cry, at least in the uncut dub.
The Nazi motto Sieg Heil literally means "hail to victory". Sieg Zeon just means "victory Zeon", which makes no sense except as Gratuitous German for "Victory to Zeon". It was modified into something more grammatically correct and sensible for the English dub.
Related is a scene late in the original series, where Gihren Zabi is compared to Hitler by his own father, and subsequently turns it into Insult Backfire; the English dub has them discuss fascism instead.
And of course, that's before we get into how later productions, primarily Gundam 0083 and Gundam 0080, push the "Zeon = Nazis" thing to great lengths with uniforms and flags that are explicitly modeled on Nazi regalia (the only change being the Zeon emblem replacing the swastika). And then you recall how as of late, more and more Gundam stories paint Zeon as brave rebel heroes...
What is funny is that the ideology of Zeon is called "Zeonism" and has been interpreted both with Hitler's "Master Race" and Sionistic "Chosen People"-angles throughout the series, depending on whether Zeon is painted as sympathetic or not.
In Black Lagoon, the Neo-Nazi group that the cast fights against for two whole episodes is using the old SA logo, possibly a reference to Neo-Nazi groups evading the Swastika ban by using other symbols in real life. Their employer wears an SS ring, and in flashbacks to the event that launched the arc — the last trip of a German submarine right before the end of the war — some Swastika flags are seen.
One chapter of Apollo's Song has the main character incarnated as a young soldier in Nazi Germany, escorting a trainload of prisoners to a concentration camp. Naturally, there isn't a swastika to be found.
Great Teacher Onizuka confused many Westerners when in one episode where Onizuka brings back his old bike gang together, he is seen covering his face with a swastika. It's not a square manji. It is a full on German right-facing diamond-shaped swastika (but roughly drawn and lacking the white circle). It is currently unknown how this was handled in Germany, as it is uncensored in the English dub (hard to believe, I know).
The manga Blade of the Immortal has the Manji as the emblem of the main character, whose name is Manji also. Many of the collected manga have an explanation about it in the foreward.
In the Pokémon card game, one version of the Charizard card had a manji in the art; it was erased in the Western releases.
This is the reason why a few Jewish groups thought that Pokemon was anti-Semitic, according to The Other Wiki. On the other side of the coin, the Islamic authorities in Saudi Arabia noticed that one of the energy symbols (a six-pointed star) vaguely resembled the Star of David, declared the game to contain subliminal Zionist propaganda and banned it.
The Pokémon Registeel in the Japanese and North American versions of Diamond and Pearl appeared to be making a rather familiar-looking salute◊. This was edited in European releases, with this edit being used in the Platinum version worldwide (However, Platinum had new sprites for many other Pokemon, so this change is unlikely to come off as unusual to players in Japan and North America).
The Japanese version of the "Koga's Ninja Trick" card showed a manji symbol in the background along with illustrations of a Golbat and Ditto, which was edited to a generic Asian-looking seal on the international versions of the card.
In the German language version of Illuminati: New World Order, the "Hitler's Brain" card is replaced with "Jack the Ripper's Diary".
Yet they were able to keep "South American Nazis", which the Germans find funny rather than offensive, apparently.
Any appearances of the swastika are routinely edited out by German publishers of the medium. However, in an issue of the DC/Marvel crossover event "Amalgam Comics" (Namely, "Super Soldier", a mixture of Superman and Captain America), two thirds of a swastika on the edge of a panel were missed. This was apparently enough to warrant a thorough search of an unfortunate comic book store by the related authorities.
American publishers generally prefer not to include swastikas on covers, though they're usually fine with having them in the interior artwork. One example: the third issue of Fury: Peacemaker, a Marvel Comics series set in World War II, features a Nazi officer on the cover. His outfit is drawn to be historically accurate, which means it includes a swastika on his hat. Rather than change the art, Marvel strategically placed the book's logo so it covered up the swastika. You can see the untouched artwork in the collected edition of the series.
Around 2004 Microsoft pushed a CRITICAL Update 833407 to MS Office 2003 through Windows Update. The description read: This item updates the Bookshelf Symbol 7 font included in some Microsoft products. The font has been found to contain unacceptable symbols. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer. Three symbols are removed from the font: two swastikas, and one star of David.
The Hellboy fan/photo comic Abe and Kroenen uses action figures of said characters. One of Kroenen's figurines is from the beginning of the movie and omits the white circle and black swastica from his red armband (he gets to keep his Nice Hat and Badass Longcoat).
When Godzilla Raids Again was released in America, the American distributors added some scenes of stock footage. One of these scenes included swastikas (but not the Nazi kind; the good luck kind). These were nevertheless edited out very sloppily; either the distributors didn't know about the different kind of swastikas, or wanted to be extra careful.
The not-very-good Richard Burton film Bluebeard (1972) seems to be set in the early part of Nazi rule of Germany (why, when it's ostensibly a retelling of the Bluebeard legend, nobody knows) and has a rather goofy-looking workaround◊ for the swastika.
The third Harry Palmer film, Billion Dollar Brain, has its main villain in the demented, Communist-hating General Midwinter and his private army. To emphasise the General's fascistic nature, the film's designers gave him this none-too-subtle insignia... workaround◊
There are swastikas aplenty in The Producers, although it's to be expected given that their scheme hangs on a play called Springtime for Hitler. But they don't just have them, they make jokes about them too, which probably not just averts this trope but stomps all over it.
Carmen Ghia: May I take your hats, your coats, and your swastikas?
This is understandable, considering the play is supposed to be as horrifically offensive as possible.
The German version of The Producers has swastikas too. The musical itself was not modified but in every piece of advertisement they replaced it with a pretzel.
Mel Brooks has stated that his intention with shenanigans like The Producers is to make Hitler so ridiculous that no one can take him seriously anymore. Given what a Large Ham Der Fuhrer was, it's not exactly a gargantuan challenge.
Liebkind: You made ze Fuehrer look like a fool!
Bialystock and Bloom: He didn't need our help!
An early example of this appeared in 1936's Charlie Chan At The Olympics, which were, of course, held in Berlin that year; all the numerous swastikas that appear (including on the Hindenburg) are carefully blotted out.
The Judean People's Front Suicide Squad in Monty Python's Life of Brian march around speaking in hacked up German accents wearing a swastika intertwined with a Star of David on their heads. A rare deleted scene (you can find it on some versions of the DVD) has Brian talking to the leader of the squad, Otto, who tells him that their mission is to create a 'pure Jewish society' without all the "gypsies and gays and suchlike". It's obvious why the scene was deleted.
If you're accusing the Pythons of sensitivity, that's not very likely. They've pretty much said that scene was cut because it was a waste of time and ruined the movie's pacing.
When Sin City was released in France and other parts of Europe, scenes were edited to remove any trace of Miho's specialized shuriken because it resembled a swastika. The shuriken in question is technically shaped like a manji and has an Eastern origin, fitting the character. Apparently, European censors were unaware of this.
Amusingly, in the German version, they aren't censored.
Captain America: The First Avenger: Where the Nazi armband would normally be on the Red Skull's uniform is a black HYDRA one. The traditional 'Heil, Hitler!' and Nazi outstretched-arm salute are replaced with a two-handed salute and 'Heil, Hydra!' Mostly acceptable since it showcases Red Skull's allegiance to his own agenda over Hitler's. In addition, the S.S. officers who come to inspect Schmidt's work are shot at angles from which their brassards aren't visible. Looking carefully, you'll notice that what few instances of swastikas that did appear are very small in size and appear only very briefly and very early in the film.
In Germany, posters and DVD covers for Inglourious Basterds showed an exploding laurel wreath instead of the swastika.
In Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy (1986) the numerous swastikas worn on Sid Vicious' and other early punks' apparel is replaced by a hammer-and-sickle design.
In-universe example: in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at Bill and Fleur's wedding early in the book, Viktor Krum nearly attacks Xenophilus Lovegood because the latter is wearing an amulet in the shape of the Deathly Hallows symbol. To Lovegood this just symbolizes the Deathly Hallows and the search for them, but to Krum and everyone else who's a recent alumnus of Durmstrang, it has come to be associated with Gellert Grindelwald and his reign of evil.
It is interesting to note the year of Grindelwald's defeat by Dumbledore (1945) was the same year as Hitler's death — and this was intentional on the part of J.K. Rowling. Whether this was merely to show Grindelwald as the wizarding world's equivalent to Hitler, or to indicate an actual alliance between Hitler and Grindelwald, is unclear.
This is the norm in Germany, where the swastika on the covers of imported books (like the English paperback version of Robert Harris's Fatherland) has to be covered by a sticker when on display.
Live Action TV
The episode of MythBusters dealing with the Hindenburg disaster omitted the swastikas from their models of the Hindenburg (justified as cosmetic accuracy is hardly a priority for them).
Kolchak: The Night Stalker discussed this at length in the episode "Horror in the Heights", where swastikas were being painted on walls in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population. It turns out the culprit is an elderly Hindu demon hunter using the symbol to protect the locals from the Monster of the Week.
Celebrity gossip show TMZ harped on a guy (AJ English, for those who care) who was wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it when posing for a photo with Taylor Swift. In his defense, he claimed he wears the shirt solely for the propose of deconstructing the symbol's negative connotations. Obviously, it didn't work.
During the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, a medley of Mel Brooks musical numbers were performed, including "Springtime for Hitler," the showstopper from The Producers. The armbands on the German officers were blank. Watch here starting at 0:35.
In the first season of Kamen Rider, the villain organization Shocker, though being Neo-Nazi terrorists, featured only a dagger-like cross, an stylized eagle and altered SS runes in their symbol. Also, their salute pose had them raise the right arm diagonal sidewards instead forward and had the "Sieg Heil!" replaced with their famous trademark battlecry of "Yii!".
In an episode of Two and a Half Men, Alan, while impersonating his brother, goes on a one-night stand with an apparently okay girl, who for some reason Charlie rejected. Turns out she's a Nazi-themed BDSM fetishist, wearing stylized bondage stuff, using a german expletive and permanent-marker inking a Hitler-stache on Alan's face, obviously all without the pretense of hiding the reference (Alan even comments on the core aspect of this trope, saying that the mustache itself doesn't look bad, "shame one guy had to ruin it for everybody"). But then the network had to pull this off, by digitally covering a swastika in the girl's armband with a (badly-drawn) Hitler-stache'd smiley face. The writer was clearly pissed, later venting off about this trope in one of his vanity plates.
Exaggerated Trope: In order to get The Residents' Third Reich And Roll album into Germany, a censor bar was slapped onto every swastika and Nazi reference. The ploy would've worked if all of the Nazi references weren't small and scattered everywhere.
KISS has had problems with these laws in Germany, as another verboten symbol is the stylized 'lightning bolt' S used by the SS — and also used by KISS in their logo) cannot be used in Germany, and their merchandise in that country uses the more standard S. While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that founders Chaim Witz and Stanley Eisen (you may know them better as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley) intended the logo that way.
As with the band's Music example above, the artwork for Bally's KISS pinball was altered for tables shipped to Germany to replace the band's double-S characters (which resemble the Schutzstaffel logo) with generic Serif Bold "S"es instead.
Model kit manufacturer Revell's German division omits swastikas from all its WWII Germany related models, while the U.S. arm tends to avoid them entirely (leaving only Allied, modern military, civil aircraft, space/sci-fi-, cars, light commercial....)
In fact, any model kit manufacturer who wants to sell their products in Germany will omit swastikas from the decal sheets of WWII era German military hardware (at least one going so far as to black out Hitler's face from a crowd scene on the box art.) Some, however, have included decals of a "plus sign" and four separate "dash" decals, unmentioned on the instructions, leaving it to the modeler to assemble the offending symbol themselves, if they wish.
Japanese manufacturer Hasegawa used to market a nice little model of Hitler's personal limousine, together with personality figure. They still make the kit today, although the saluting figure in the back has been facially remodelled to be any generic senior uniformed German, and the new model title is "German General's personal car". Still accurate, as the vehicle wasn't just issued to Hitler, senior general and field-marshals got the same Mercedes model too. But still...
Even non-Nazi swastikas are victims of this policy — model planes that are advertised as Finnish, for example, have simple blue crosses in their roundels, or even no markings at all, rather than the square blue swastika that is easily distinguishable from the Nazi one.
Italian model manufacturers such as ESCI/Italeri seem equally wary of causing offence. It is noticeable that models of Italian tanks and military vehicles of the WW2 period are issued with the green-white-red national tricolour flag used as a recognition insignia. However, this version of the flag is a post WW2 issue which omits both the coat of arms of the former royal family, and the alternative prominent fasces insignia in the central white band, the Italian fascist version of the swastika. The new republic of Italy (founded in 1948) apparently makes it a criminal offence to fly either wartime version of il tricolore.
In the 1960s, a popular British TV series was The Colditz Story about World War Two prisoners of war in the "escape-proof" castle of the title. A tie-in board game was launched, complete with a swastika on the box lid. After some complaints, new box art was introduced without the swastika and the swastika versions are now quite rare and worth a bit of cash.
Hasbro removed all swastikas from the German soldiers in the 2008 Indiana Jones series of figures. For instance, the figure of the German general from Last Crusade sports a completely black armband on his uniform.
Likewise, all references to Nazism were removed from the Lego Indiana Jones line, because putting Nazi swastikas on freaking Lego would be wrong on so many levels.
And yet, they did produce a Concentration Camp Playset. No, really. Well, technically, it was an art piece made by a Polish artist out of existing Lego pieces. The only contribution by the Lego company was sponsorship and the design of the boxes. And after the inevitable outcry they distanced themselves from it. But still.
Heck, they're even called "enemy" soldiers instead of "German" soldiers.
The second game in the Japan-only RPG series Tengai Makyou that was first released on the PC Engine (which has the distinction of being on the top ten all-time most popular games in Japan) was titled ... Manjimaru, named after The Hero. Manji symbols are featured prominently on the title screen, and in many, many occurences throughout the game. Come the Nintendo DS port, and the GameCube remake, both Japan-only, and most of them are inexplicably removed!
Battlefield 1942 uses imperial symbols for Nazi Germany; the German flag, for example, is the Imperial flag with an iron cross in the middle.
It is also played straight in Battlefield Heroes — it features the Royal and National Armies, modeled off the Allies and Axis respectively. However, they are stated not to be that — they are armies fighting over, amusingly enough, Olympic cycling results. As such, despite the obviously World War II setting, there are no swastikas. There are instead black skulls-and-crossbones.
In Doom 2, the two secret levels are absent in the German version, as they are literally updated ports of two Wolfenstein 3D levels (see below), swastika-banners and all.
However, Doom Classic Complete (as can be downloaded on the PS3) and the BFG Edition (available multiplatform) include the two secret levels, but with some major changes: Everything reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D has been completely purged, all enemies have been replaced with standard Doom II opponents, and the levels themselves have been renamed ("Wolfenstein" to "IDKFA" and "Grosse" to "Keen"). The only thing that remains is the layout of both levels. No Swastikas nor Hitler portraits, the SS guards are replaced by zombiemen squads, and the unique map music themes have been replaced by the theme of MAP05 for both maps
The Bowdlerised SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D has the swastika banners replaced with blank red curtains, and Hitler is replaced by the "Staatmeister".
There were Bowdlerised versions for the PC made specifically for Germans, who could then download a patch to revert the game to its original form.
Wolfenstein RPG plays this trope straight, to accommodate its Lighter and Softer atmosphere. Eagle insignias are used in place of swastikas, and the Nazis are referred to as "Germans" or "Axis". There are even portraits of Hitler, with his moustache turned into a goatee.
The German version of the 2009 Wolfenstein was heavily censored in Germany because of violence and swastikas, but oddly enough the censors forgot a small swastika from a note in a hospital in the game, that survived into the German version. After the website schnittberichte.com that likes to point out censors of all kinds in German media, jokingly pointed this out, Activison immediately called to return every copy of the game because of a "not outstanding element" to convert all copies.
In Commander Keen 5, one level had pipework forming a mirrored swastika, probably in reference to the then-forthcoming Wolfenstein 3D. As with the one in Doom, it was removed shortly after release.
Commercials for the 2008 game Turning Point: Fall of Liberty - which America never entered World War II, Germany beat Russia, and Britain was no match for the Axis, and Nazis are now taking over 1950s America - originally showed the Iron Cross on the flags. Thankfully this seems to have been changed to be more realistic. Preview pictures seemed to do a similar flip-flop.
Hearts of Iron 2, set before, during and after WWII, replaces the swastika-centric Nazi flag with a Black-White-Red tricolor, symbol of the old monarchist German Empire which the Nazis briefly revived, then banned. On the other hand, it refuses to remove the flag of Tibet used in game, which is banned in the People's Republic of China.
In the German release it goes even further, removing the entire high tier of the Nazi Party and thus ridding the game of its entire cause. Pathetic because this is not required by German law.
However this is not done in the German Versions of any of the standalone add-ons/follow on games in the Series. Swastikas are still missing, but Der Führer and all his henchmen are back.
BloodRayne features Nazis as the main antagonists; however, in the Xbox and PC versions of the game, all swastikas were replaced with triskelions (which, coupled with the color and layout of Nazi flag, looks exactly like the emblem of South African White Supremacist organization AWB) and references to the Third Reich were removed.
The villains of Bionic Commando for the NES were an Imperial Forces trying to resurrect Hitler. For the English release, their symbols were changed, and even the mention of the Imperialists being Nazis were removed (the Nazis were instead known as the "Badds"). Hitler himself got a name change to "Master D," and his face was changed on the Evil Overlooker cover, though his in-game graphics were unaltered, including the famous animated picture of his head getting blown up with a rocket launcher after the Final Boss battle.
In the game City of Heroes, Hitler's name is automatically censored by the profanity filter (mind you, it's easy to turn off said filter altogether). Said profanity filter is lifted wholesale from other games by the same publisher, so this may not be that special.
The overthrow of the Fifth Column by the Council has been accused of being a retcon (for history's sake, read more here). The dev position was that it was part of the Myth Arc and now the Column's coming back, for real, good, and sure, with a character named Reichsman taking a leading role. Really Seriously. We can stop the debate now.
Though there are still no swastikas, the 5th's logo is a V with a stylized skull over top of it.
In the IL-2 Sturmovik combat flight sim series, the German planes never carry the black swastika and the Finnish planes do not carry the historical Von Rosen cross, a light blue swastika on a white circle. This, despite the fact that the adoption of the Von Rosen cross predates the adoption of the swastika by the NSDAP by several years, and in any case was done to honor the Swedish count Erik Von Rosen, who had donated planes to Finland during their civil war. Soviet planes in the same game still carry the red star, which of course has unsavory connotations for many. In the real world, the Russian military still use the red star, despite the Soviet Union having been gone for 20 years, although the version now carried by the Russian Air Force, at least, is a red star outlined in white and blue, thus including the three colors of the Russian Federations's flag.
The original Russian version of the game has both German and Finnish swastikas. Russians don't seem to mind.
Video Game Parody: Morden's Army in Metal Slug, despite having no connection with the Nazis, has emblems that are strangely reminiscent of Nazi ones, but "poorly censored"—most frequently, a Nazi swastika with the outer arms removed, leaving it an X, but also a phoenix that bears a more than passing resemblance to the Nazi Eagle. This is so blatant that some people who don't realize this was also the case in the JP version think they actually are poorly censored Nazis.
Also ignored in the original The Legend of Zelda- the layout of the third dungeon forms a Manji symbol.
Maken X and Maken Shao confused themselves over this one. German fighter Margarete and her troops wear red Nazi armbands and her fortress is full of Swastikas in the original Japanese version of Maken X. In America and Europe, all swastikas were replaced with the equally geometrically pleasing but less-offensive Chinese character 'mu'. Apparently somebody liked this choice, or just didn't want to repeat the censorship, so all versions of the remake Maken Shao use the same symbol. American and European Maken X also found the roman numerals on The Pope's wings changed (and the fact that he was The Pope was phased out), and a Muslim enemy's crescent-and-star design was erased.
Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich also featured no swastikas. Appropriately, one of the first mods made for this game allowed the player to include them.
In the adventure game adaptation of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, we learn that Nimdok was a scientist working for the Nazis during World War II. His scenario takes place in a concentration camp, but all the swastikas are changed to a stylized "AM" logo (AM being the name of the psychotic Deus Est MachinaMaster Computer who's created the cruel scenario). Somewhat justified in that all of it seems purposely censored by Nimdok's guilt-ridden mind—the words "Nazis" and "Jewish" are conspicuously avoided until he remembers his past.
This didn't stop them from entirely removing Nimdok's chapter from the German release, though, which made the game unwinnable.
The game Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures uses generic German soldiers. However, the coloring of the Colonel Vogel minifigure seems to suggest a Nazi eagle and all soldiers have blonde eyebrows and blue eyes instead of the standard black/brown eyebrows and black eyes every other character has.
As do the officially licensed Indiana Jones Lego sets. This probably has something to do with the fact that the LEGO Group is sort of a Technical Pacifist of toy companies, refusing to manufacture "war toys"; that is to say, very realistic guns or contemporary military hardware. It doesn't stop them from selling accessories like flintlock pistols, revolvers, rifles, chainsaws and all manner of laser guns, though.
In the level "Opening the Ark" there are several red flags hanging around that are obviously Third Reich flags, sans swastika; without said symbol, they do look rather odd, almost like a large red rug with black stripes hanging up to dry.
In the video game Bully, for Halloween one of the male student characters (Gary) is shown wearing a version of Nazi uniform with the actual Nazi insignia clearly absent. This appears to be just a fact of gameplay rather than an individual case of censorship- the game was aimed at (and met) the requirements for a Teen rating, despite Jack Thompson's best efforts. And — teenage boys — school setting — not even Bullworth is that shit of a school.
Later in the game, the nerds' leader Earnest has a flag design for his presidential campaign: a green flag with a white circle in the middle and a tilted black "E".
The Combat Mission series, despite being extremely accurate wargames both in mechanics and graphics (down to what kind of uniforms and patches were worn on a given month of a given year by a given unit) didn't include any swastika, be it on flags or armbands. The game is highly moddable though, so many many user mods exist to bring the Hakenkreuz back.
In Kid Dracula for the Game Boy (Akumajō Special: Boku Dracula-kun in Japan), the first boss were hooded klansmen with swastikas on their head. The US version completely removed the swastikas and the klansmen's sprites were tweaked to look more like ghosts.
Oddly, the symbol can be found on the second boss in Bonk's Adventure.
At least one of the younger versions of the original Day of DefeatHalf-Life mod had the swastika as the German control point flag.
The current versions of both Goldsource and Source Day of Defeats use an iron cross in place of a swastika. Also, the two teams in Source are "US Army" and "Wehrmacht", though the latter should be "Heer" as the Wehrmacht was the entirety of the armed forces, not just the army.
In Operation: Europe, the only pictures you see are headshots of the commanders, and feature no swastikas; however, when you play as the Axis, Hitler shows up in person to give you orders.
An especially ridiculous example is in Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword, where Franz von Papen'' is the leader of Germany in the European Blitzkrieg scenario, and Isoroku Yamamoto is the leader of Japan in the Pacific one. This is in spite of the fact the game allows players to play as Chairman Mao or Stalin.
There are mods which allow you to play as Hitler and Hirohito. Which, of course, made Germans complain that they couldn't play it in public.
among fans, is typically explained with the objective observations that A) Hitler was a rather poor leader, and, while Stalin and Mao left their nations as super-powers, he left his a smoking ruin and B) even if Hitler's incompetence is ignored, he is far from the first candidate for inclusion. However, the fandom is united in their criticism of his absence in mods of the appropriate era.
The North Africa Campaign map that was bundled with the original release got around this problem by having the civilizations "led" by the various actual North African theater commanders - meaning, yes, Rommel for the Germans. They still had to go with the iron cross as an emblem, though.
Of course, this has lead some to question why other ultimately "failed" leaders are included, such as Napoleon, but it has been observed that the question there is arguably one of Napoleon's inclusion, rather than Hitler's exclusion.
Civilization V tried to clean it up somewhat by digging deeper into history, with Otto Von Bismarck leading Germany, Catherine the Great leading Russia, and Wu Zetian leading China. Napoleon is still in the game, however.
In the U-boat simulator Silent Hunter the swastikas are simply left out of flags and symbols. This is most noticeable on the Bismarck. There are two large circles on the deck with nothing inside.
Hidden And Dangerous simply avoided hanging swastika banners in the levels, and the enemy models aren't detailed enough to tell if they're present on uniforms or not. Portraits of the Fuhrer turn up a few times, however.
The Saboteur completely averts this trope, featuring swastikas on flags, Zeppelins and on armbands of Nazi soldiers. However, no direct reference to Hitler is made (only ever "The Fuhrer") and from early release trailers, all swastikas were replaced with the Iron Cross. Also, when Sean disguises himself as a Nazi, the armband disappears.
German version still plays this straight, even with removing the few lines of Hitler taken from an old speech. Also, the game has a list of all people you killed, with "neutralised Germans" instead of "killed Nazis". Strangely the list says "killed civilians" instead of neutralise.
The "Fascist flag" in Warship Gunner 2 uses a plain black cross instead of a swastika or iron cross. German warship hulls are also missing the bow swastika.
The point-and-click Secrets of Atlantis omits swastikas from the tail and interior decor of the Hindenberg, and likewise skirts any direct mention of Nazis by using the Thule Society (obvious middlemen for the former) as antagonists.
In the first Golgo 13 game for the Famicom, Duke Togo fights against a group of Neo-Nazis led by a cyborg version of Adolf Hitler. In the NES version, they were turned into a generic terrorist group named Drek and Hitler was renamed Smirk. Like in Bionic Commando, the developers made no attempt to alter Hitler's likeness for the overseas release.
Velvet Assassin, despite it being set in World War II, because Replay Studios is a German company.
In the remake of Persona 2, when the Last Battalion (supposedly a group of Nazis that smuggled Hitler to safety when he was supposedly killed) invades Japan (thanks to a conspiracy theorist and all rumors coming true), their tanks and planes sport the modern Iron Cross, rather than the swastika, which at first gives the impression that it's modern-day Germany invading Japan. Hitler is present, but only ever referred to as "The Fuhrer."
The original PSX version of Innocent Sin, all the swastikas were present. It's speculated that this might have been the reason the game was never released internationally.
Lost Horizon, a product of Germany, has no swastikas. It is replaced in all contexts by the iron cross. It's particularly noticeable during a visit to Berlin while the 1936 Olympics were on, since there are flags and banners all over the place.
The free-to-play air combat game, War Thunder takes place during World War II (sort of), but labels Nazi Germany as "Axis" and uses the German imperial flag rather than the swastika.
Company of Heroes: German flags have the swastikas replaced with Iron Crosses. The German soldiers are also never referred to as Nazis, Instead they are called "Krauts" and "Gerrys" by the American and British soldiers.
Massively Multiplayer air-combat simulator Aces High eliminates Nazi swastikas from all aircraft skins. This not only includes the swastikas that marked the tail surfaces of Luftwaffe aircraft, but even the kill boards on Allied aircraft (all aircraft skins in the game depict historical machines, and American pilots in Europe often used swastikas to denote victories). This does not extend to skins representing Finnish Air Force aircraft, however. The Von Rosen cross is fully intact on the default Brewster B-239 skin and any Finnish Bf-109 skins.
The NES game, Great Tank, contains both the Swastika and the Balkenkreuz. When it was brought over the west coast as Iron Tank, Nintendo of America censors removed both symbols from the game and replaced them with a circled X.
This trope factored into the cancellation of Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix. Intended as a follow-up to the Adventure GameFate of Atlantis, LucasArts realized a game with a plot about a post-war attempt to resurrect Hitler might not fly in the German market.
Nintendo of America took the swastikas out of Desert Commander, a World War II strategy game for the NES.
A roundabout version of this happened in Irregular Webcomic!. Swastikas themselves do appear in occasional storylines, but LEGO does not make a Hitler figurine. So the author made him a brain in a jar. Before World War 2. And later he's represented by the author himself when Hitler's brain is put in his body.
NationStates specifically prohibits the usage of swastikas in any of its nation's flags, even if the nation created is supposed to be a Nazi nation (or even if the swastika's usage is meant to be used as it was originally intended, as a religious symbol), as the symbol has too much negative connotations to the average viewer.
The Justice League episode "The Savage Time" set during World War II did exactly this, but justified it; a villain had used Time Travel to hijack the Nazi war effort, and they used his symbols instead. Later episodes had no problem referring to said villain as a "Nazi war criminal". Worth noting, though that the insignia he uses is the the SS insignia, Hitler's elite guard and it actually makes sense in the context of the story, making this an example of Getting Crap Past the Radar: An ancient symbol that arose individually in almost every basket-weaving culture and which just happened to be used in the flag of a fascist nation? BAD! A symbol for a group of soldiers from said nation who were primarily responsible for the holocaust? A-OK!
More specifically, the Sowilo rune was used, which was a common nazi symbol (as it's german meaning, "sigel", was a symbol of victory).
In the episode of Hey Arnold! featuring Grandpa's war story, the German soldiers had scowling face insignias instead of swastikas. Quite funny, considering how they were allowed to show Hitler himself.
Dungeons & Dragons featured an episode where Venger brought a WWII Luftwaffe fighter to the Realm. Both the plane and its pilot were swastika free.
In the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons from the 1990s, Captain America was shown in World War Two fighting nondescript Germans, there were plans from a Captain America series that would not feature any references to Nazis.
X-Men: Evolution also played this straight, but when Wolverine mentions Captain America was a super-soldier, Professor X does ask whether this was intended as "The master race". Granted he may not have quite meant it that way but it's still a little surprising to hear.
An episode of Iron Man: Armored Adventures featured Magneto as a villain, and despite recapping his origins, neglected to mention that he was a Holocaust survivor. Instead, his hatred of humans was chalked up to tortures he endured while being experimented on by Weapon X.
In the South Park episode The Passion of the Jew, Cartman starts a Nazi-like group disguised as simply a "Mel Gibson fanclub" to eliminate Jews. The group includes all sorts of Nazi paraphernalia, such as uniforms and flags, with the Swastika omitted. Of course, South Parkhas no problem with offending people, so the lack of the swastika was probably to make the group's real intentions less obvious to the people in the show.
The writers of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes decided to create an alternate timeline with HYDRA as an enemy of the Allies during WWII, assisted by villains traditionally associated with Nazis. Word of God stated that this was the result of an ultimatum from Standards And Practices: they could have swastikas or realistic weapons and they chose the latter. The head writer also tried to justify the change here by saying HYDRA served as merely a branch of the Nazis. In the episode "Meet Captain America", the Red Skull's SS uniform suggests the Nazis existed in this universe, but the opening newsreel only shows HYDRA taking over Europe. (As a result, viewers who have not read these Word of God statements tend to assume this series disregarded the existence of Nazis altogether. It doesn't help that the map depicting HYDRA's conquest of Europe shows them steam-rolling out of Russia to conquer all of Europe, Germany included.) Unfortunately, the fact that HYDRA is still pretty powerful in the present suggests the Allies failed to eliminate the threat of another Axis takeover.
Played straight in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Baroness Paula von Gunther is a Nazi in the Wonder Woman comics, but her affiliations aren't mentioned on the show. Her costume sports a stylized lighting bolt insignia rather than any Swastikas.
Used a couple of times in Ren and Stimpy first in "Maddog Hoek" when their wrestling opponents dress them in Nazi uniforms telling them they are the enemy the symbols on their arms and hats are x's (notably this scene was cut in the German dub), and in "Ren's Bitter Half" near the end Ren's evil side is dressed in a uniform reminiscent of a Nazi uniform and the symbol on his armband is an "R".
In the father's various flashbacks to World War II in Life With Louie, no Swastikas appear anywhere, however, the German soldiers do have SS insignia on their helmets, so Nazi imagery still appears.
In most popular culture stories, especially in children oriented tales or comedies, people will be seen wearing Nazi uniforms minus the swastikas or simply by having another symbol on the badge. For instance, during a homage concert for Mel Brooks "Springtime for Hitler" was performed, but all the actors didn't wear any swastikas on their uniforms.
The National Guard's 45th Infantry Division is from Arizona, and so during WWI its unit patch was a swastika. It was changed to a Thunderbird in 1939 (before the war).
Since the swastika originated in India as a symbol of good luck, it's used as frequently as a yin yang or smiley face would be used in America.
One of the few exceptions Germany makes for the No Swastikas rule is for the Jainism religion (which originated in India), because it is a symbol of good luck, and because the Jains are such extreme pacifists they won't eat yogurt and risk threatening bacteria's existence.
There's also the forest swastika planted of larch trees in the middle of a pine forest in the Brandenburg district in Germany, sometime in the 1930s. Because it's only discernible from the air, and then only for a few weeks each autumn as the larches change color and thus stand out from the surrounding evergreen pines, it wasn't discovered until the 1990s.
One online patent archive includes patents filed in Nazi Germany, but the swastika is strategically blanked out on the Reich emblem in the header. Of course, anyone with a rudimentary grasp of history knows which symbol is supposed to go where the black blob now sits.
In countries where the Swastika is banned, it is not unheard of for Neo-Nazi groups to just not use it at all. Instead, they use lesser known Nazi symbols, like the SA logo, the Life Rune, the SS runes, or the three point swastika (called a triskelion). Other groups, especially in English-speaking countries, are also known to use the Celtic cross. (Most of which are also forbidden in Germany; you can't even have the letters SS on your license plate.)
In Germany, Neo-Nazis instead resort to symbols of Imperial Germany (since the Third Reich is legally off-limits, they use the symbols of the Second Reich instead), which royally pisses off German Monarchists. Also used (mostly for greeting) is the number 88. It corresponds to the letters HH (for "Heil Hitler").
This is probably why UK's Security Service will always use their previous name (MI-5) when an acronym is required. And also why the the US Secret Service is always shorted to USSS.
Shortly After WWII, the new German Border Police of West Germany (today's Federal Police) used old Wehrmacht helmets, of course with changed symbols. Productions for movies playing during the war would borrow them in want of prop. That led to scenes of Wehrmacht soldiers wearing the Federal Eagle.
Up till a few years ago, the Bundeswehr's ceremonial guard units were still using KAR-98k rifles of WWII vintage with the Nazi Waffenamt eagles still stamped on each and every part. After discovering that the Federal Army was bearing on a regular basis gear marked with unconstitutional symbols, they went through the trouble to disassemble the guns and etch out every mark they could find. The early Israeli Army had the same problem, as they used a lot of surplus KAR-98ks. Not wanting to discard otherwise perfectly useful weaponry, they deleted the most egregious examples, replacing them with an engraved Star of David for additional irony. This was done inconsistently, probably on the basis of whether a unit's quartermaster cared enough to bother. Some Israeli K98k rifles retained their full Nazi markings.
As the MG-42 machine gun used by the Wehrmacht is almost completely identical to the MG-3 the German Bundeswehr uses today (save for a slightly larger barrel in the 42 - that can be exchanged in four moves in less than 10 seconds anyway - and one or two other, lesser modifications) there are still some MG-3s around that have swastikas imprinted on them. Some cases even have the 42 obviously scratched and a 3 imprinted instead.
There's a small town called 'Swastika' in Northern Ontario which refused to change the name of the town during WWII because A) They had the name first. B) Swastikas are for good luck.
The government actually tried to change the name to "Winston" (in honour of Churchill), but the locals kept removing and changing the sign back, which has made them the butt of quite a few jokes.
Raëlism, the UFO religion founded in the 1970s, has attempted to reclaim the swastika by using it in their official symbol - all the more controversial (and somewhat ironic) as they intertwine the swastika with the Star of David. In the 1970s they attempted to build an embassy in Jerusalem for their alien gods and wanted to use that symbol on their building. When the Israeli government informed Rael he could not do that the aliens told him that it was okay to change their symbol to something less objectionable to the Israelis.
According to Unicode.org's Unihan search engine, one of the three possible ideograms for wàn (ten thousand or countless) is an anticlockwise swastika, hence this is the only one of the three which you won't see on Mahjong Characters tiles (at least in the Western Hemisphere). However, this may be why some Mahjong authorities claim that the wàn character means "good luck" (although in this context, "ten thousand" is a more accurate interpretation).
On a very popular writers' forum called Absolute Write, one of the members had an ancient Buddhist symbol in their signature to signify their coping with the loss of their father. It was mistaken for a swastika (which it looks like, turned 45 degrees) by a blogger and caused quite an uproar. In the end, the board let it stay due to its nature as a healing symbol.
The two highest military decorations of Finland, the Cross of Liberty and the Mannerheim Cross prominently feature a swastika. The roundel of the Finnish Air Force also used to be a swastika. This has since been changed, but the flag of the Air Force◊ still retains the swastika.
The Finnish Army swastikas, including the two decorations, are actually stretched and easy to mistake for ordinary crosses. The Air Force swastika is more conventional, but a) is derived from a good-luck symbol on the Air Force's first plane, donated by a noble whose symbol it was, b) is blue, and c) is square. It's difficult to mistake for a Nazi swastika.
There is a link between the Finnish Swastikas and the Nazi variety. The Finns adopted the Swastika as it was a part of the family coat of arms of Swedish Count von Rosen, who was an important benefactor to the fledgling Finnish state after World War I. Von Rosen adopted it partly because of his fascination with the ancient Norse as well as with Tibetan Buddhism. The von Rosens were also friends of the future Nazi air force general Goering, who during 1920s was working as a private pilot in Sweden and eventually married into the family (his wife, Carin, was a member of the von Rosen family).
On Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese maps, swastikas are often used to indicate the location of Buddhist temples. Yes, this also applies to Google Maps, which startles quite a few western people when they first see it.
Rudyard Kipling adopted the swastika as part of his personal bookplate, inspired by his time in India. However, after the Nazis came to power, he had it removed from his published works.
Visit some pre-WWII hotels in areas like South Dakota. The swatstika was a common symbol among the Native Americans. Buildings that include the shape will either have obliterated or modified the symbol, or will spend a lot of time explaining it to tourists.
Also known as the 'fylfot', swastikas dating from 1920 appear on the floor of the entrance hall to the Customs House in Sydney, Australia, now home of the City of Sydney Library. There's an explanatory plaque nearby.
This was a quite common practice in many regions prior to WWII. It's a simple to create and fairly attractive symbol in tile flooring (if you can get past the Nazi appropriation of it, that is).
The Serbo-Croatian word for "sister-in-law" is "Svastika."
At least some American public schools have low tolerance for swastikas to the point where students are forbidden to include them in pictures containing Nazi soldiers or flags and will get in trouble if they do.
Lithuania (a former Soviet republic) and Hungary (a former Soviet satellite) outlaw the display of the hammer-and-sickle symbol.
The Japanese martial art of Shorinji-Kempo, strongly influenced by Buddhism, used a Swastiska as its symbol, as seen in Sister Street Fighter. Practitioners did change the symbol in Europe during the last 30 years due to its associations.
The Brixton Heron (a weathervane on top of the Prince Of Wales pub diagonally opposite Lambeth Town Hall in London) has curved spokes for the four compass directions instead of the traditional straight spokes, thus bears an unfortunate resemblance to a swastika.