|Automatons led by a lunatic who looked like Charlie Chaplin|
|The Third Reich|
The swastika (Sanskrit), also known as the Hakenkreuz (German) or fylfot (old English), is a cross-like emblem with angled arms, found in most cultures throughout the world. Nobody really gave a shit about it for over 10,000 years until some psychopaths from Germany got a hold of it.
 Religious and cultural use
 Dharmic religions
Swastika-like images have been found throughout ancient cultures. Most notably, it was a fertility symbol in India and other countries, and has positive connotations in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and some other faiths. The Hindu swastika was and is an emblem of a faith-based set of constructs, but apart from that it is fairly harmless.
The most common Buddhist swastika has anticlockwise arms and can be seen at numerous temples in the far east; Hinduism and Jainism, however, nearly always use a swastika with clockwise arms. A comfortable myth abounds that Hitler's swastika was "backwards," but even in Buddhist iconography, the right-facing swastika was far more common a hundred years ago than it is today. Because the left-facing swastika is rare in Hinduism (keep in mind what Hitler was trying to convey) and absent from Jainism, this myth has the potential to be very dangerous.
 Native American religion
In North America petroglyphs have been found with the swastika symbol. There is not yet consensus regarding the meaning of the symbol. The state of Arizona paid homage to this heritage on its state highway markers of the 1920s and 30s. During World War II, the Arizona Department of Transportation began installing state highway markers sans swastika.
The swastika, in conjunction with the Star of David, is used in the Raëlian movement. They believe that the whole symbol represents the infinitude of space and time. However, the Raelians eventually changed their symbol when the Israeli government prohibited them from building an embassy for their alien gods in Jerusalem. Who knows why?
The swastika is also used as a symbol in Germanic neopaganism, and there is a movement among Germanic neopagans to "rehabilitate" the swastika as a religious symbol rather than a racist one. Many Asatru websites display a banner containing the swastika along with the tagline, "Heritage Not Hate."
 Political use and stigmatization
While the swastika was originally a relatively harmless symbol, the far right Thule Society appropriated it. Many of the original National Socialists were involved in this group, and as a result turned it into an emblem of racism. Thus, it is one of the most recognized symbols in the world. Such is the power of the emblem to provoke, any shape vaguely resembling it is often deemed to be one, and its owner or designer accused of being a Nazi. Most of the time, this is actually no different to the face of Jesus appearing on a cheese sandwich.
If you ever see this happening, don't be a dick. Inform people.
 In Germany
Displaying a swastika in the context of Nazism is banned in Germany, to the point where even anti-fascist use of it spawned a debate (in the end it was allowed if the anti-intent was undoubtably clear). In 2007, Germany attempted to get the European Union to pass new laws instituting a similar ban across the EU, but failed in this due to the objection of Hindus. Hindu communities are exempted from the ban in Germany as well.
Another exception is if the swastika is displayed for the purpose of teaching, research or other pursuits aimed at staatsbürgerliche Aufklärung (civic education). However, material that is not considered educational, such as WWII-themed computer games and plastic model kits, have to be sold in special, Swastika-free versions.
Note: The Nazis never referred to the swastika as a "swastika", but as a hakenkreuz (hook-cross).
 In Finland
The swastika has always been popular in Finland. It has been the symbol of the Finnish Air Force since 1918 and is a State symbol as well. After WWII Air Force planes and symbols don't show it anymore, as requested by the Allied coalition. It survives though in badges, awards, symbols. Even the Presidential Order of the Cross of Liberty showcases a swastika. Many paintings by the national painter Gallen-Kallela include the symbol, which means that prior notifications and arrangements must be made when they are loaned to exhibitions abroad.
 See also
- Reclaim The Swastika
- Accidental swastikas in architecture:
- Three Canadian hockey teams bore the name "Swastikas":
- An evil tote bag
- Somebody who didn't quite understand the message...
- In Glendale, California, many of the 1920s era streetlamp posts like this one have swastikas.