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Unread 12-01-2009, 08:16 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 16,385,425 times
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Default Swastikas in Pittsburgh

So this topic got booted from the Funny Foods thread, which is fine, but I also think it is an independently interesting topic. First, what I posted in the other thread (and will now remove):

Quote:
So we have some small inset tiles on the threshhold of our late-1920s house with a variety of symbols, including some left-facing swastikas. We did some research, and it turns out the symbol dates back at least to neolithic times, and apparently has spontaneously been used in many basket-weaving societies (because it shows up when weaving a certain pattern). When Schliemann excavated the site of ancient Troy in the late-19th Century, he discovered extensive use of the swastika, and as all things Troy became popular, it was widely adopted in the West as a good-luck symbol. Hence it found its way into a lot of early-20th Century Western clothing, art, and architecture, including our home.

Of course then the Nazis radically changed the connotations, and it has since been largely dropped from Western design styles. Apparently what happened is that many people in German-nationalist "völkisch" movement were fond of Schliemann's work, and so they adopted the swastika as a symbol of the romanticized version of the Aryan race that they constructed. One völkisch group, the Thule Society, helped create the German Workers Party (DAP), which basically transformed into the Nazis, and they carried along and adopted the swastika as their symbol of Aryans and incorporated it into their flag and insignia.
So to sum up, for a decent period swastikas weren't particularly associated with Nazis and were quite common in the United States. In fact somebody else posted a picture of a Pittsburgh building with some swastikas in another thread, but that picture link is now broken. In any event, I would bet that based on the symbol's pre-WWII/pre-Nazi popularity in the United States combined with our local building boom in the same era, Pittsburgh once contained quite a few swastikas on its buildings. Consistent with general trends elsewhere, probably a lot of them have since been removed, but I think it would be interesting to post examples here if people spot them (and I might try to take some pictures of ours if people are interested).

 
Unread 12-01-2009, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Bigfoot Country
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
So this topic got booted from the Funny Foods thread, which is fine, but I also think it is an independently interesting topic. First, what I posted in the other thread (and will now remove):



So to sum up, for a decent period swastikas weren't particularly associated with Nazis and were quite common in the United States. In fact somebody else posted a picture of a Pittsburgh building with some swastikas in another thread, but that picture link is now broken. In any event, I would bet that based on the symbol's pre-WWII/pre-Nazi popularity in the United States combined with our local building boom in the same era, Pittsburgh once contained quite a few swastikas on its buildings. Consistent with general trends elsewhere, probably a lot of them have since been removed, but I think it would be interesting to post examples here if people spot them (and I might try to take some pictures of ours if people are interested).

An interesting consequence of that timeline (pre-WWII) is that someone with an axe to grind could showcase some swastikas and deduce that Pittsburgh had Nazis, which is almost certainly wrong. However, given the large number of german and other immigrants, they might have liked the symbol for other reasons. Obviously all, pre-Nazi.

At the risk of being inflammatory, I will throw out the the Nazis simply perfected the militaristic and genocidal tendencies of many European, or for that matter tribal traditions that had been developing for millenia. I find it quite boring that we consider everything Nazi the personification of evil, yet we talk with nostalgia about the English empire, the Mayans, Aztecs, or the great empires of India,etc. Many, if not most, were founded upon a similar philosophy of self-rationalizing brutality. Point being, every symbol the Nazis used is no more evil than saying chocolate is evil because the Aztecs used it. Our memory and grasp of history is very limited, and our ability to create righteous dogma is considerable, so...let's see those swastikas and try to figure out what they meant....
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 09:35 AM
 
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I can understand why immediately post-Nazi, the swastika could not be used in most Western contexts without invoking bad connotations. But I also agree that a very basic symbol with thousands of years of history pre-Nazi should not necessarily be permanently put in the dog house because of its appropriation by an evil group for a relatively short period of time (and incidentally, I agree they were far from the only evil group in history, although they were certainly in the top rank of evil).
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Great White North Hills
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Hey, when the Nazis were in control, the trains ran on time.
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 09:46 AM
 
Location: Westsylvania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I can understand why immediately post-Nazi, the swastika could not be used in most Western contexts without invoking bad connotations. But I also agree that a very basic symbol with thousands of years of history pre-Nazi should not necessarily be permanently put in the dog house because of its appropriation by an evil group for a relatively short period of time (and incidentally, I agree they were far from the only evil group in history, although they were certainly in the top rank of evil).
I agree. What if they had used a cross, or a smiley face (which admittedly hadn't been invented yet)?
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Westsylvania
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That photo up above is supposed to be:



Not sure what happened.
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 03:59 PM
Status: "Maple tree is leafing out!" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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I really think the swastika should be permanently retired. I understand what you all are saying, but still. . .
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Agreed. It doesn't have any modern history attached to it except from the Nazis and who needs reminding about what they did.
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Bigfoot Country
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I really think the swastika should be permanently retired. I understand what you all are saying, but still. . .

I heard crosses were used for genocide campaigns in the crusades. Should we retire them too? Sounds like is a classic case of guilty by association....

Let the Swastikas loose!

Or maybe not....

Does anyone really know what they symbolized in Pittsburgh? I don't have the faintest idea.
 
Unread 12-01-2009, 06:59 PM
Status: "Maple tree is leafing out!" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
65,550 posts, read 51,899,948 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiddlehead View Post
I heard crosses were used for genocide campaigns in the crusades. Should we retire them too? Sounds like is a classic case of guilty by association....
Maybe you're right. The Mormons don't wear crosses b/c they symbolize death.
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