The swastika is an ancient sun symbol, used in many cultures throughout history. If you see a swastika in a work - any work - made in the 1920s or earlier, the symbol has nothing to do with Nazi Germany
It's usually golden rather than black, and usually inverted compared to the swastika of the Nazis note
and standing "straight", with one cross-arm vertical and the other horizontal, rather than standing on one corner like the Nazi one. Usually, but far from always, there are lots of variants. See the Real Life
examples below for more details.
Polar opposite of A Nazi by Any Other Name
trope is about cases where the most famous symbol of Nazism actually doesn't have anything to do with Nazism.
Contrast No Swastikas
Anime and Manga
- YuYu Hakusho had a minor villain with a swastika tattooed on his forehead. This was removed in the English dub.
- Manji of Blade of the Immortal has the swastika symbol on the back of his clothes as a reference to immortality. In fact, manji is the Japanese name for the swastika symbol (though the symbol itself is reversed to point counterclockwise). In the original version, it's drawn in the "Nazi direction", but in English translation was flipped to the "Buddhist direction".
- In Bleach, Ichigo's bankai incorporates a Manji into the sword's guard. The manji is used in writing the word "bankai"—卍解—making Zangetsu's release a kind of visual pun.
- In One Piece, a swastika was incorporated in the crest of the Whitebeard pirates. This was changed in the anime to crossbones in a + shape. The manga later Retconned the symbol to match.
- In Naruto Neji's curse-seal is a manji symbol. It's left alone in the manga, but the anime changed it to an X.
- There was a Swastika Laundry in Dublin who even painted it in black on a white roundel on their red trucks, adding "Since 1912" in 1940. They stayed in business until the '70s.
- In Sin City, the assassin Miho throws a large shuriken in the shape of a manji.
- In The Da Vinci Code, Langdon is giving a speech at a conference. He shows part of an image of a swastika, everyone thinks about nazis, then Langdon shows the complete image, with a clearly buddhist context.
- In Kal Ho Naa Ho, Naina and Jennifer paint a swastika in the window of their restaurant - in New York - as part of its revamping. No one comments on this, and the new concept is a huge success.
- Subverted in One Night With The King, an adaptation of the Book of Esther. The villain Haman wears the good luck swastika millennia before the Nazis, yet also happens to be planning to exterminate the Jews.
- One autobiography of the last Tzar of Russia mentions the empress being very fond of the Swastika.
- In The Great Gatsby, the Jewish gangster Meyer Wolfsheim operates out of the "Swastika Club" (presumably, like many older buildings, it has that design on it). There is some argument though that this wasn't an innocent usage, as Wolfsheim is something of an anti-Semitic caricature, and the Nazi movement had already adopted it as their symbol by the time the novel was written, and Fitzgerald was fairly knowledgeable of white supremacist movements.
- UK editions of Rudyard Kipling's books published before the 1930s often have left-hand swastikas on the title pages.
- "Origin Story", by Dwight R. Decker, uses this trope; a magical being who's been away for the past century gets turned down when he tries to give a man the superpowers and identity of Captain Swastika (with big swastikas on his costume).
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker: in the "Rakshasa" episode, Kolchak sought wisdom from an emigrant from India, who had swastikas. The man explained that in his culture they were holy symbols.
- In a Milt Gross Count Screwloose comic done on November 2, 1930, a canoe with a thick-lined, red swastika is pictured in one of the panels.
- One of the Pokémon trading card game cards, the Koga's Ninja Trick card, originally had the symbol on it in mirror image until people complained and it was altered.
- Both Ran and Yukari Yakumo from Perfect Cherry Blossom use a manji-themed spellcard in their battles with you. Ran's version is Shikigami's Shot "Ultimate Buddhist" and Yukari's is Evil Spirits "Butterfly in the Zen Temple."
- Imperishable Night has Fujiwara no Mokou's Deathless "Xu Fu's Dimension" spellcard.
- This is set up purposefully in Epic Battle Fantasy 2. The Big Bad Lance is portrayed as a neo-Nazi intent on destroying the world to rebuild it. However, if one looks carefully at his uniform, his swastika is facing the other direction from the Nazi swastika to form the Buddhist symbol for peace, an appropriate reflection of his ultimate motives.
- The original The Legend of Zelda had a dungeon shaped like a swastika, described as "manji" in the manual. Definitely a case of Values Dissonance.
- In Tengai Makyou II: Manjimaru, the title character's name is written with one.
- Appears as the crest of many Indian regions in Crusader Kings 2: Rajahs of India.
- Used for Deliberate Values Dissonance in the Alternate History timeline "Monarchy World" by Tony Jones, in which a swastika is used as the emblem of the United Nations-equivalent precisely because it is such a universally used symbol in many cultures and religions (see below).
- In Look to the West the swastika becomes thought of as an Etruscan symbol because it was found on an Etruscan artefact and then used as the symbol of a Tuscan-based radical movement inspired by the Etruscan civilisation as a result. In reality of course the Etruscans were just one of many cultures to use the symbol, but it's the one that got all the publicity.
- Here's a list of cultures and religions that have used the swastika.
- Hinduism: A representation of the god Ganesh, as an emblem of good fortune, to evoke "Shakti".
- Buddhism: As a representation of eternity.
- China and Japan: Eternity and the number 10,000. Also used in Japan to mark the locations of Buddhist temples on maps.
- Jainism: Even more prominent than in Buddhism or Hinduism; all holy books and temples must bear the swastika.
- Iran: A golden necklace of three swastikas at least three thousand years old was found.
- Ural Mountains: The Bashkir people feature the swastika prominently in their ancient iconography.
- Armenia: The swastika was prominent in medieval architecture, such as churches and fortresses, and also found in pre-Christian carvings. It was called an arevkhatch (sun cross).
- Pre-Columbian America: The swastika has been found associated with cultures throughout North and South America, including the First Nations of Canada, the Navajo and Hopi of the southwestern United States, the Mississippian culture of the east and southeast US, and the Kuna people of Panama. Some of these, are still in use today, though efforts are made to distance them from the Nazis.
- Ancient Grome: A symbol of eternal motion, representing a windmill or watermill. Typically not found alone, but rather as part of a repeating design.
- Celtic: Pre-Christian Celts used swastikas on their metalwork and stonework.
- Germans: Bore special importance in funerary symbols, possibly as an emblem of Thor.
- Illyria (South-eastern Europe): Represented the sun.
- Baltics: Pre-Christian. The two versions were called the fire cross and the thunder cross, and represented the thunder god Perkons and the sun.
- Slavic: Pre-Christian. Found in ornamentation.
- Sami (Arctic Europeans): A double cross or double axe is found on their drums, thought to represent the thunder god, a derivation of Thor.
- In several parts of Asia such as Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, the manji is commonly seen on Buddhist temples and service centers.
- The Raelians hold an annual "take back the swastika" day to try to rehabilitate the public's perception of the swastika. Given that they're a UFO cult, not many notice and even fewer care.
- Reclaim the Swastika is a website dedicated to try to rehabilitate the public's perception of the swastika.
- The Finnish Air Force used to use a swastika because that was the personal lucky emblem of the man who donated their first plane. Confusing when Finland was in an 'enemy of my enemy' style alliance with Nazi Germany during WWII (and operated American and Dutch planes).
- The swastika is square and blue, making it easily distinguishable from the Nazi one. A variant with long central arms was used by the army. While the air force now uses a roundel, both types of swastikas are still quietly found on flags and medals.
- The US 45th division (formed from Arizona National Guard) had a yellow swastika on red as its patch until 1939. This was replaced by a gold Thunderbird. Interestingly, Bill Mauldin (who was in the division, from when it was still National Guard) didn't make a cartoon about it.
- Red October era Russia: the swastika was used as a symbol on the Provisional Government money (kerenki). The Bolsheviks also considered to adopt it but ultimately rejected it in favor of the famous red star.
- Occult: The "Sign of the Mourning of Isis" in some Golden Dawn derived groups involves taking up a swastika posture.
- The CU(Credit Union) Service Center has a swastika that is tilted at a 45 degree angle (like the Nazi swastika), but has curved spokes that come to a point (unlike the Nazi swastika)◊ as its symbol.