Finland's Military Finally Got Rid Of Its Swastikas

Today, it'd be weird enough to see a swastika, the ancient Sanskrit symbol co-opted by Nazis, in a yoga studio, let alone emblazoned on the uniforms of an armed branch of government. But it took the Finnish Air Force eighties years to realize that, yes, having soldiers wearing swastikas is not a great PR move.

Feeling blue for the old days. Finnish Ministry of DefenceFeeling blue for the old days.

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Until disturbingly recently, the Finnish Air Force was still sporting its original symbol, a blue swastika on a white background. For the first thirty years of the FAF's existence, the swastika was even prominently displayed on all its military aircraft, but they had to strip them off in 1945 when the victorious Allies insisted they were sick of seeing that sinister symbol swoop through the skies. But that didn't stop several units inside the FAF from covertly continuing to emblazon both blue and black swastikas on their emblems, flags and even uniforms. That included the Air Force Command, which kept as its emblem an ostentatious gold swastika to show service members that they were the superior officers.

Or Uber-officers, if you will.Finnish Ministry of DefenceOr Uber-officers, if you will.

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It was only recently that a Finnish professor noticed that the FAF had finally discontinued their insensitive service symbol without any fanfare. So why stop now after spending all of Postmodernity stubbornly swastika-ing it up? When confronted, a FAF spokesperson said they weren't embarrassed by the tradition; it was just that the swastika was "causing misunderstandings" with other nations. That's right; it's other people overreacting that ruined the swastika -- an opinion shared by Finland's military and its many conservative dads. Both of whom will eagerly point out that the distinguished FAF emblem had existed long before the Nazi Party and in no way meant that the Finish military was in league with Nazism.

Please ignore the fact that the Finish military was in league with Nazism.Henrik O. Lunde/Casemate PublishersPlease ignore the fact that the Finish military was in league with Nazism.

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In fact, the air force didn't even have a choice in adopting the swastika -- it had come with the plane. In 1918, the newly independent Finland received its first wings from a Swedish benefactor, Count Erik von Rosen. And it just happened to be that von Rosen's hand-me-down Thulin Typ D was emblazoned by the count's good luck charm, a massive blue swastika. So the FAF simply adopted that symbol to honor Count von Rosen, a man best remembered for his generosity, adventuring spirit, and ... uhm, being close friends with Adolf Hitler, becoming the brother-in-law of Hermann Goring, and founding his own Swedish fascist party, the National Socialist Bloc. So there you go! The FAF was innocently marching under a totally different swastika belonging to a totally different North European Nazi. Sheesh, people are so sensitive these days.


For more weird tangents and zero swastikas, do follow Cedric on Twitter.

Top Image: Puntti/Shutterstock

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