Once an Ancient Symbol of Good Fortune, Nazis Made Swastika Into Symbol of Evil



Hamburger stand with old cattle brands Sep 1939 Dumas TX

Hamburger stand with old cattle brands Dumas Texas, Sep 1939.
(Photo courtesy of Shorpy.)

The symbol which resembles a swastika on the front of the building second in from the right, was the shoulder patch of the 45th infantry division from Oklahoma before World War Two according to captions on this photo on Shorpy. At the time this was symbol used by Native America tribes in the area.

According to the US Holocaust Museum:

“The swastika has an extensive history. It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism.

It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures.”

US Holocaust Museum History of the Swastika


This was the divisional symbol of the 45th US Infantry Division which was a National Guard division mainly recruited in the Oklahoma and surrounding states.

“Before the 1930s, the division’s symbol was a red square with a yellow swastika, a tribute to the large Native American population in the southwestern United States.”

45th Infantry Division wikipedia

Obviously, the division did not want to be associated with what had become in the 1930s and odious symbol. After a public contest a new design was chosen and approved by the US Institute of Heraldry.

45th infantry

Photo above copyright by US Institute of Heraldry.

Says the institute about the divisional symbol approved to replace the old one in 1939:

“Symbolism: the 45th Division was composed of Army National Guard troops of Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. As the territory was originally explored and settled by the Spanish, the insignia is gold and red, the Spanish colors. The “Thunderbird” is an Indian symbol meaning sacred bearer of happiness unlimited. The four sides of the insignia represent the four states comprising the Division.”

US Military office of Heraldry