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It can be seen above the entrance to sacred temples in New Delhi, India. Above temples in Bali can be seen the same symbol. The Ashanti people of Africa use it to adorn their weights. It is fashioned into jewellery by North American Indian Tribes. It can be seen on the depiction of footprints of the Buddha.

A Roman Catholic Bishop used it as his own personal coat of arms. All of these uses were made of the Swastika well before Adolf Hitler chose it as the emblem of his Third Reich in the 1920s. Yet, Hitler did not give the symbol its now infamous name. The word swastika is derived from the Indian Buddhist usage of the right angled cross. In the Sanskrit language ‘svasti’ means object of well being.

History relates that Adolf Hitler first viewed the swastika as a young boy growing up near the Benedictine Monastery at Lambach, upper Austria. During the winter of 1897-98, the not so angelic Adolf was a choirboy at the Monastery.

Chiselled into a wall in the Courtyard was a swastika. Another one was on the Monastery portal. Even the personal coat of arms of the Abbot Theodorich Hagn bore a golden swastika. This striking emblem obviously made a strong impression on the future Fuhrer. It was first used as a symbol of the National Socialist Party in the summer of 1920 to an enthusiastic response.

What though of the pre-Nazi history of the swastika? In the lower Danube area of modern day Romania, earthen vessels with representations of the swastika have been found. Similarly, the symbol has been found on vessels in the ancient city of Troy, Asia Minor. The evidence shows that it served as a symbol of fertility and life. Its similar use can be found in Trench Graves in Mycanae, Greece, on Athenian vases and even decorating the garments of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love.

Recent excavations in the area of the Indus Valley, in Southern Asia show that the history of the swastika goes back even further. Depictions of the symbol were found on seal rings dating back to the Third Century, B.C.E. Archaelogists have, in fact, dated the origins of the swastika way back to ancient Mesopatamia and the religion of the nation of Babylon. North of Baghdad, on the Tigris river, more swastika findings have been made, with indications again of it’s use as a symbol of fertility and life.

It is ironic that a symbol that has for thousands of years represented life should, in just a few short years, be forever changed into a harbinger of hatred and death.