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Neonazi flag symbolism

Last modified: 2005-11-26 by antonio martins
Keywords: nazi | neonazi | politics | swastika | cross: swastika | cross: celtic | celtic cross | rune: odal | rune: sieg | werewolf | 88 | eighty eight |
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Neonazi symbolism

Nazist movements from different parts of the world have quite similar flags. They usually are red, white and black, that are the “Bismark colors” upon which was also based the Hitler’s flag. The scheme is always the same: red background, a white circle in the middle and a black symbol. As in many countries it is forbidden to use fascist or nazist symbols, they use new symbols reminescent of swastika.

All these are flags resembling the german flag of 1933-1945. Here’s a list:

  1. Original nazi german flags, some newly created in 1933 and later, according to “fascist” graphical principles (in the original meaning of that word), others more or less inherited from pre-1933 german flags. Almost all banned in 1945 till today.
  2. Flags of foreign (non-german) entities (national and party flags), more or less sympathetic with Hitler’s and Mussolini’s regimes, inspired in their symbolics, design and aesthetics. Most of them disappeared during or after WWII. [list]
  3. Post-war flags of political organizations somehow sympathetic with the nazi regime and world view. Some of these flags are indeed (actual or intended) copies of types 1 and 2 above. [list]
  4. Mockery or “atmosphere setting” flags, loosely based on any of the above, usually used in works of fiction, theme decoration or humour. [list]
  5. Protest flags loosely based on 1-3 above, adding to its typical design or symbols the design or symbols of the flag or emblem of some other entity, usually to convey the accusation that the said entity is somehow comparable to nazi regimes. Usually found in political cartoons, protest rallies, etc. It may be humurous.
  6. Flags that somehow have the same symbols and/or design as any of 1-3 above, but which have no intentional connection with their movements. [list]
António Martins, 01 Feb 2003

I think these are mostely beautiful flags, though politically, I strongly oppose what they stands for.
Elias Granqvist, 24 Apr 2001

That’s completely possible. Tyrants, with their devotion to “bread and circuses”, are often masters of manipulation, including symbols. The German Nazis were absolute masters of this; if they were just another political party, their flags would be considered works of art. Indeed, the swastika itself now has a meaning that no Buddhist would put on it, it being found often in their iconography and elsewhere. (I recall maps in Japan being marked with swastikas to indicate Buddhist temples. Took me a while to get used to that!)
Al Kirsch, 25 Apr 2001

The texts about this symbol [the so called hurricane on the P.N.S.S. flag] illustrate quite well the interesting phenomenon of neonazi symbology worldwide: The flags, symbols, salutes, etc. are clearly influenced by Hitler and Mussolini and based on them — however the “official” explanations refer most everything except that fact. This symbol is “hurricane”, then? Yeah, as much as South Africa’s ABW threelegged swastika was based on the number "777", and similar explanations. I simply dont get it. If these people use simbols reminding of they’re ideological idols, why dont they say so? There sure don’t hide their intentions in other situations… Saying «our symbol looks like a swastika out of a coincidence, as it was originally designed by my mother-in-law’s cat» is being plain coward — something neonazis don’t like to be called at…
António Martins, 27 Jul 1999

It would be inconsistent with the nationalist part of the ideology, I think. The nebulous explanations also fit in with the use of the swastika — there is no link between the ancient and the Nazis, other than the swastika itself.
Ole Andersen, 28 Jul 1999

It is interesting to note that most mock versions of the swastika flag feel much more “nazi” than the flags of real nazi-sympathetic entities, and that many of the listed sympathetic regimes of the pre-WWII era end up in quite “unsympathetic” relations with Germany (the Cutch-cross austrians, Horthy, the rumanian what’s-his-name, et c.).
António Martins, 10 Feb 2003

The “celtic cross𔄤


[Celtic cross neonazi flag #1]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

(With and without the white and black lining/fimbriation, both usual forms).
António Martins, 18 Apr 1998


[Celtic cross neonazi flag #2]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

The celtic cross is probably the most popular symbol among (seemingly not only) european neonazis, even more than the traditional swastika (but that’s maybe because the swastika is banned or has its use “protected” in many countries). They base it in that Celts are “true” Europeans (i.e., of “pure” breed).
António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

The circle/cross design has (like the swastika) a long and honourable usage before it was associated with modern nazism. The circle/cross is another variation of the solar disk, and is found in ancient American, Asian, and European cultures. It was also associated with Celtic Christianity. The symbol also has various meanings in alchemy and hermetic studies.

I suspect that the present users care less for the actual symbolism involved than they value its similarity to the swastika design, and substitute it for a swastika when such a design is illegal.

The celtic cross somehow resembles the cross on the Ku Klux Klan flag.
António Martins, 10 Feb 2003

white on black

[Celtic cross neonazi flag #3]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

This white power cross is a popular symbol amongst Europe’s hardcore Nazis. It is molded after the Celtic cross, seeking to make an heritage issue of it.
António Martins, 27 May 1998, quoting Nazism Exposed | Flags and Symbols (Pål’s site)

black on white

[Celtic cross neonazi flag #4]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

Black celtic cross on white, as opposed to the more usual white celtic cross on black, used on european neo-nazi flags.
António Martins, 4 Oct 1998

Other sites:

Odal rune


[Odal rune neonazi flag #1]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

Another popular rune among neonazi organizations is the odal rune (notably the by the South african African Student Federation). It is the last letter of futhark, the “modern” 16 letter viking rune set. (Here with and without the white and black lining/fimbriation, both usual forms).
António Martins, 18 Apr 1998


[Odal rune neonazi flag #2]
image by António Martins, 18 Apr 1998

The odal was originally used by ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) from Yugoslavia SS-regiment (the 7. SS Freiwillingen-Gebirgs — Division Prinz Eugen) operating during the WWII in the Nazi Germany sponsored State of Croatia. According to FlagMaster 073 [flm], it may have been used by ethnic Germans in other countries.
António Martins and Mark Sensen, 18 Apr 1998

Another version (with arrows at the end) was used by the 23. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Nederland".
Mark Sensen, 19 Apr 1998

The werewolf symbol

[Werewolf symbol neonazi flag]
image by António Martins, 27 Jul 1999

I found a brief but interesting description of a symbol that appears on some current nazist flags:

A fascist sign, used in for instance Sweden in the 1990s, meaning werewolf. According to ancient superstitions men were sometimes transformed into beings, half men, half wolves, extremely blood-thirsty and ferocious. These beings were called werewolves. Werwolf, German for "werewolves", was the name chosen for the guerilla fighters Hitler and the Nazi top had planned should continue the fight against the invading Allies when Germany’s Wehrmacht was defeated and the German territory was occupied.
Giuseppe Bottasini, 29 Jul 1998, quoting from

A complete history of the Werwolf organization can be found at this site. The symbol was also used by a number of organizations in german occupied Netherlands.
Marcus Wendel, 07 Aug 1999

This symbol is the ancient german rune Wolfsangel. In past it was a magical means to frighten away the wolfs. In WWII this sign was used by Division Waffen SS Das Reich. Source: [mux97]
Viktor Lomancov, 01 Jan 2000

The "88" symbol

What’s the connection between neo-nazism and "88"…? It’s not the first time I notice this (f.i., NZ’s Unit 88). I imagine that, since "88" looks a bit like "SS" (especially if on a flag with different sides seen in backlight, hmm), and might be used as a surogate for it in the lines of what happend with the celtic cross and other substitues for the swastika, but I’d expect to see it more proeminentely displayed and sported, namely on flags.
António Martins, 08 Jul 2002

Nothing to do with the SS, nor with the famous German 88mm gun. As far as I know, each "8" stands for the eighth letter in the (German, English etc.) alphabet, "H". Thus "88" stands for "HH", which in turn is an abbreviation for "Heil Hitler".
Santiago Dotor, 09 Jul 2002