Germans did not use “Hakenkreuz” for Swastika. They used it for a Christian hooked cross. Hakenkreuz is the literal German translation of “hooked cross”.
But what is Hakenkreuz/ Hooked cross? What did the Nazis understand by it? What were they so enamored by this symbol? Did they see the symbol as a mere translation of the Indic symbol Swastika? Did they see the Hakenkreuz as an ancient Indian symbol? Did they borrow this Indian symbol?
Only contemporary Nazi literature can tell us what the Nazis actually thought about Swastika. I begin by considering the views of Erich Koch. Koch was a top officer of Nazi Germany. He organized Nazi concentration camps. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after the war. However, Erich Koch was not just a Nazi who gαssed people to death in concentration camps. He was the president of the German protestant Church Synod. He was a scholar of the Bible and would recite the entire New Testament orally. As such, his views about Hakenkreuz are very revealing.
“Truly, Christ has returned. The second coming of Christ has happened. Christ has now come in the form of Hitler. He has come to exterminate the Marxists and the irreligious. He now comes not with a cross but with the hooked cross (Haken Kreuz)” - Erich Koch.
Koch was a brutal, ruthless Nazi of the first order. He personified Nazi barbarity by playing a leading role in the murdεr of thousands of Jews and their deportation to camps. Yet, even in his post-war testimony, he insisted that he was doing nothing but the work of Christ!
Koch was not alone. Even Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitler's closest acolytes, held similar eschatological Christian views about “hooked cross”. He saw Nazism as an apocalyptic movement that personifies Christ's mission of destroying Anti-Christian Jewish and Marxist forces. At the end of his autobiographical diary named Michael, Joseph Goebbels declares - “The war we are now waging today is a struggle between Jesus Christ and Marx”.
Hans Schemm was an educator and a top minister of Nazi Germany. He famously declared -“Our religion is Christ, our politics is motherland”. Explaining the meaning of Nazi Hakenkreuz, he also alluded to Hitler as a personification of Christ. “In its first appearance, the cross used to be straight because Christ had come with love. Now, the day of judgment has arrived. The cross is hooked (referring to Hakenkreuz) because Christ has come with wrath. Redeem yourself” - Hans Schemm
Christian eschatology was at the core of Nazi ideology since its inception. When the Nazi party was founded, Hitler announced 25-point Program. Point 24 says Nazi Party advocates “positive Christianity”. It “combats Jewish spirit within & around us”.
In their rallies, the Nazis frequently used Hooked Cross in association with the cross. Here is a Nazi rally in berlin. Notice the hooked cross in association with the biblical cross on the flag.
During the Nazi era, both the cross and hooked cross were very frequently intertwined and exchanged for one another. Here is the official flag of the German Christian movement. Notice the hooked cross signifying the second coming of Christ depicted in place of Jesus on the cross.
Berlin. Luther day 1933. Speech by bishop Hossenfelder. The symbol of the hooked cross inscribed on a Biblical cross can be clearly seen.
Hooked cross on Antoniter Church altar. 1935. Devotees visiting the church used to touch the hooked cross and utter “Das ist Jesus Christus” (“That is Jesus Christ”). How can this be a Hindu symbol?
It is clear that Hakenkreuz of Nazis had absolutely nothing to Swastika of Hindus. Nazi Hakenkreuz had a Christian eschatological concept of the second coming of Christ with the hooked cross.
Why then has the Nazi hooked cross been dissociated from its Christian background? Why has Nazi Hooked Cross been dissociated with its Christian roots & identified with Hindu swastika?
There is absolutely no evidence that the Nazis borrowed this symbol from India. In fact, the hooked cross has always been one of Church motifs. There is a Hooked Cross motif in the Vatican.
After Nazis lost the war & were disgraced when their crimes were out for the world to see, any association with Nazis was deemed unpopular.
Christian apologists spilled a lot of ink to
Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf was translated into English by Christian pastor James Murphy. He translated “Hooked Cross” as “Swastika” which was a visually similar but completely unrelated symbol. “Swastika” coming from “Swasti” (well being) was in fact truly opposite to it
With this intentionally flawed translation, he wanted to kill two birds in one shot.
This was later followed by all other translators. So deeply entrenched and widely prevalent is this propaganda that even India's NCERT textbook says “Hitler understood the significance of rituals ….and used ancient Swastika to install unity”.
Audrey Truschke claims that Savarkar's swastika is actually Nazi. Does she claim that Hindu Nationalists intentionally displayed the angle of Swastika midway between Nazi and Indian uses? But is that really so? This tweet completely exposes Audrey's ignorance.
Audrey claims that any Swastika depicted with a slanting angle is not Hindu Swastika but a Nazi symbol. This betrays Audrey's utter ignorance about the subject. Hindu Swastikas are often depicted with a slanting angle. It is very common to see slanting swastikas on Hindu temples. It is funny that Audrey associates Savarkar's book Hindutva with Nazism. She would not have made such clueless & ignorant remarks had she read that book. Far from showing any anti-semitic Nazism, Savarkar actually expresses in that book his desire for a Jewish homeland in Israel.
Like her protestant Indologist predecessors, Audrey connects Hinduism with Nazism. Like them, Audrey also has links with Christian missionaries. Why should her personal religion be our problem? Well, but for the fact that they don't keep it confined to their personal space!
These protestant Indologists ignore that the Nazi Hooked Cross was conceived in a Christian context. Hitler’s upbringing was at the Benedictine Christian Monastery in Austria which features hooked cross motifs. It was from a Christian milieu that they picked up “hooked cross”.
While protestant Indologists continue to manufacture fake associations between Hinduism and Nazism, German bishops have recently admitted their role. “We were complicit in Nazi crimes”- German Bishops. While Bishops admitted their role in Nazi Crimes, they haven't admitted their role in this false association of Hooked Cross with Swastika. It is interesting to note that the first English translation of Mein Kampf by Edgar Dugdale did not have a “swastika”. Edgar Dugdale correctly translates “Haken Kreuz” as a hooked cross. It was only the Christian Pastor Murphy who first used “Swastika” in place of “Haken Kreuz” in his mistranslation of Mein Kampf.