Why Finland Won’t Let Go of the Swastika

Part of the emblem of the Finnish Air Force, 1958

FINLAND, September 198, 2018 (The Week): The swastika, a symbol most associate with the horrors of Nazi Germany, still adorns flags and military insignia in Finland. Critics argue that the emblem should be consigned to the history books owing to its racist connotations but the Finnish government has repeatedly rejected calls to restrict its use. Finland has used the ancient symbol on monuments, awards and decorations for nearly a century, says the national broadcaster Yle. The swastika, which is also a Hindu symbol of peace, was used by many in the West as a symbol of good luck during the early 20th century and was a common architectural motif in Finland during the 1920s and 1930s. It was also favored by Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, who featured it on his designs for military insignia, including the Cross of Liberty.

The swastika is displayed on the flag of the president of Finland and appeared on Finnish Air Force planes until 1945. “It had nothing to do with the Nazis, because we got it 1918, much before the Nazis ever existed,” says retired Lt. Col. Kai Mecklin, director of the Finnish Air Force Museum. The swastika has “always been a symbol of independence and freedom” in Finland, he adds. Former air force pilot Mecklin says banning the symbol would send the wrong message. “If we now deny the use, or stop using the swastika, we could give a signal abroad that actually it was a Nazi symbol in Finland – which it never was,” he argues. “We are still proud of it and still using it. “Meanwhile, the government remains opposed to even considering a ban. “At the present time, the Ministry of Defence has no plans to restrict or review the use of the swastika,” a military spokesperson said.

Source: The Week