In the Western world the swastika is synonymous with fascism, but it goes back thousands of years and has been used as a symbol of good fortune in almost every culture in the world. As more evidence emerges of its long pre-Nazi history in Europe, can this ancient sign ever shake off its evil associations?
In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, swastika means "well-being". The symbol has been used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains for millennia and is commonly assumed to be an Indian sign.
Early Western travellers to Asia were inspired by its positive and ancient associations and started using it back home. By the beginning of the 20th Century there was a huge fad for the swastika as a benign good luck symbol.
In his book The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? US graphic design writer Steven Heller shows how it was enthusiastically adopted in the West as an architectural motif, on advertising and product design.
"Coca-Cola used it. Carlsberg used it on their beer bottles. The Boy Scouts adopted it and the Girls' Club of America called their magazine Swastika. They would even send out swastika badges to their young readers as a prize for selling copies of the magazine," he says.
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