6 Nazi Symbols, Their Meanings And History

The Nazi symbols are one of the most significant hallmarks of the last century, but unfortunately they remain in the retina as icons of horror, atrocity or monstrous. Some of these signs are the swastika, the hagall rune, or the odal rune.

Throughout history, symbols have been used to represent abstract concepts, such as values, ideological and political positions. For example, by default, crosses are directly related to Christianity; Red flags are traditionally associated with leftist, socialist and communist political currents. 

Nazi symbols, part of the recent history of the world

Symbols, like any other human-made element, can be used and abused. There are many images that have been used to intimidate and cause psychological damage to a group. This is the case of the symbols used by the German National Socialist Party during the first decades of the 20th century.

The National Socialist Party, better known as the Nazi Party, was founded in 1921. Based on pan-Germanic, totalitarian, anti-communist and anti-Semitic ideologies, this party defended the supremacy of the Aryan race and initiated a policy of racism and aversion against any people that assumed a threat to the integrity of the country.

Today, any image that refers to Nazism is associated with one of the greatest crimes in history: the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jewish peoples. 

Article index

  • one

    The most prominent Nazi symbols

    • 1.1

      -The swastika

    • 1.2

      -The flag

    • 1.3

      -The sig rune and the Protection Squad 

    • 1.4

      -Rune tyr

    • 1.5

      -Rune hagall

    • 1.6

      -Odal rune

  • two

    German propaganda 

  • 3



The most prominent Nazi symbols

-The swastika

One of the main symbols of Nazism is the swastika cross. It should be noted that the Germans were not the first or the only ones to use this symbol, since in ancient Troy this cross was used as decoration in pottery and coins; For Hindus and Buddhists, this cross is a sacred symbol; even in Native American culture, the swastika was used.

Buddha / Photo recovered from “Understanding the Swastika: Use and abuse of a sacred symbol”


The word “swastika” comes from Sanskrit and means “that brings good luck and well-being.” Before being adopted by the Nazis, the swastika was used to represent strength, the sun, and good luck.

According to Joscelyn Godwin, the shape of the swastika comes from the best-known constellation in the northern sky: Ursa Major, also known as Carro Mayor or Arktos; This is why the swastika is also used to represent the North Pole.

The swastika and the German nationalists

Due to the absence of the cross in Egyptian and Phoenician cultures, the hypothesis was born that the swastika was an exclusively Aryan symbol. Subsequently, some German groups, such as the Theosophical Society, adopted the cross to represent the migration of the Aryan race from their homeland, at the North Pole, to the European continent. 

Starting in the 19th century, the cross was adopted by German nationalist groups and by the end of the century, the swastika could be found in German newspapers; It even became the official emblem of the German Gymnasts League.

The swastika gained popularity among anti-Semitic groups thanks to the writings of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, who took the symbol to represent the pure German race. At the beginning of the 20th century, the cross was present on the emblem of the Wandervogel, a German youth movement, and in anti-Semitic newspapers, such as “Ostara”.

In May 1912, a group of anti-Semites and pan-Germanics met in Leipzig with the aim of forming two organizations that would alert Germans to the danger posed by Jews and their influence on the country’s economic system. From this meeting, the Reichshammerbund and the Germanenorden (The German Order) were born.

In 1918, the German Order became the Thule Society, referring to the hyperboreal continent (Thule), which, together with the mythical land of Atlantis, was the origin of the religious and spiritual traditions of modern society. This society took as its emblem a dagger surrounded by oak leaves, superimposed on a swastika with curved arms.

Emblem of the Thule Society / Photo recovered from “Invisible Eagle: A History of Nazi Occultism”

In 1925, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Party, wrote a book called My Struggle , where he exposed, among other things, the need to have a badge and a flag. He chose the swastika as his insignia, because it represented the land of the north, home to the Aryan race, as well as the supremacy of that race.

Thus, the swastika became a symbol of hatred, anti-Semitism, violence, death, murder, racism, holocaust and, above all, the official mark of genocide.

The direction of the swastika

There are two types of swastikas: one that rotates clockwise, and one that rotates counter-clockwise. In ancient times, the two crosses were used indiscriminately, as evidenced by Chinese drawings made on silk.

It should be noted that in some cultures, the two crosses were used to represent different realities: the one that followed the clockwise direction was called swastika and represented health and life, while its opposite was called swastika and represented bad luck and misfortune.

With the Nazis coming to power, the meaning of the crosses changed and today the right-turning cross (the one adopted by German nationalists) is called a swastika. Currently, the meaning of this cross is related to death and grief. 

On the left, swastika. Today it represents fortune and well-being / On the right, swastika, symbol of the Holocaust carried out during World War II.

-The flag

Flag creation and meaning

When the need arose for a flag for the National Socialist Party, Hitler asked for suggestions for its design. In his book My Struggle , he noted that the design of Friedrich Krohn, a Sternberg dentist, was the one that most closely matched his wishes.

He also indicated that the red of the flag represented the social idea of ​​movement, the white represented the idea of ​​nationalism, while the black swastika in the center was the symbol of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan race. These colors were taken from the flag of the German Empire, in order to convey the idea of ​​rebuilding the empire. 

National Socialist Party flag

-The sig rune and the Protection Squad 

The Protection Squad, also known as the Schutzstaffel or the SS, was an organization created in 1925 by Heinrich Himmler. The squad emblem was composed of two sig runes. The sig rune means “the sun” and is commonly used to denote victory.

Schutzstaffel emblem / Photo recovered from “Extreme Right Wing symbols, numbers and acronyms”

-Rune tyr

Tyr is the Norse god of war. In Nazi Germany, the tyr rune was also known as the battle or arrow rune and symbolized leadership on the battlefield.

This symbol was used after the First World War by various organizations and was later adopted by the Hiltlerjungend (Hitler Youth, a Nazi organization created to train young adolescents).

Rune Tyr. Sewn to the upper left arm of a jacket, it indicated that the wearer had graduated from the Reichführerschule / Photo retrieved from “Odinist Pagan Runes and Symbols Used by Hitler’s Nazi Germany”

-Rune hagall

This rune was used in the honorific rings of the SS, also known as “death’s head rings”. Himmler stated in this regard that the sum of the swastika and the hagall rune represented the unshakable faith of the Nazis. 
Runa hagall / Photo recovered from “Odinist Pagan Runes and Symbols Used by Hitler’s Nazi Germany”
“Totenkopf” or “rings head of the dead” / Photo recovered from “Invisible Eagle: A History of Nazi Occultism”

These rings were awarded by Heinrich Himmler to select members of the Protection Squad. Engravings of the hagall and ger runes and the swastika are shown on the rings.

-Odal rune

The word “odal” comes from the Anglo-Saxon and means “land, possession, inheritance.” For the Nazis, the odal rune was a symbol of the earth and the purity of the blood, used to transmit the Blut und Bunden (Blood and Earth) ideology .

Odal rune. Emblem used by some members of the SS or Protection Squad. It was also employed by members of the Hitler Youth / Photo recovered from “Odinist Pagan Runes and Symbols Used by Hitler’s Nazi Germany”.

German propaganda 

Under the control of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, German propaganda became a vehicle for stereotypical images and symbols against any culture that posed a threat to the supremacy of the Aryan race, with the Jews being the main recipients of this. racism.

However, the Nazi hate policy was not limited to the Hebrews, but extended to any person or group that, according to the Germans, did not deserve the honor of calling themselves a citizen, such as Communists, Gypsies and even disabled or disabled Germans. with cognitive compromises.

The German ideology of hate was translated into simple images that showed a contrast between good and evil, German and non-German. In this way, the popular masses were appealed to, convincing them of the superiority of the Aryans and of the need to expel the inferior groups that “contaminated” the pure German race.

“Let’s end economic slavery. Vote for the National Socialist Party ”, 1924 / Photo recovered from“ It’s Them or Us: Killing the Jews in Nazi Propaganda ”

The image above is an example of anti-Semitic propaganda featuring a dwarf Jew holding a whip and riding on a German.   

“Things are getting better and better” (1925) / Photo recovered from “It’s Them or Us: Killing the Jews in Nazi Propaganda”

The above cartoon, published in Joseph Goebbels’ newspaper, Der Angriff , is similar in theme to the first blurb. In this, Germany is represented by a German (blindfolded and surrounded by bayonets), whose pockets are being emptied by a Jewish hand, while the foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann, assures him that things are looking up.

These images have two elements in common: the innocent representation of Germans and the representation of Jews as evil figures who use and abuse Germans.

“Don’t let them escape”, (1935) / Photo recovered from “It’s Them or Us: Killing the Jews in Nazi Propaganda”

The image above shows a serpent covered with the stars of David, alluding to the Jews; Likewise, this animal is given stereotypical features attributed to the Hebrews, such as the prominent nose. It should be noted that this propaganda differs from the previous ones, since it gives the Germans an active role.

Another of the most common themes of Nazi propaganda was the transformation of Hitler into a messiah.

One of the most common posters that helped build the image that the National Socialist Party wanted to convey to the German people / Photo recovered from “Analysis of Nazi Propaganda: A Behavioral Study”

In the image above, the halo of light that surrounds Hitler and the presence of a bird give the poster an angelic character. Furthermore, Hitler is presented as a leader who guides his people.

The symbols used by the National Socialist Party pointed to the victory of the Germans over other peoples. In addition, his images were loaded with violence, hatred and racism, directed mainly at Jews, as evidenced by the advertisements released during his tenure.


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