Cambs Uni Publications


Icelandic Symbolism – Part Three

14th November 2015
Posted by S Taylor


The Icelandic for Swastika is Hakakross.  This symbol has appeared in a great variety of contexts over the centuries; it appeared on cremation urns, as a charm for fishermen in all weathers and as a commercial logo for a shipping company.

The Icelandic Steamship Company

Iceland_16[Eimskipafjelag Islands in Icelandic] was presented with the emblem of the Swastika or Hakakross by the harbour master Thor Jensen as a distinctive commercial logo when the Company was formed in June 1914.

For many years it was placed on the bows of all the company ships and it was the centrepiece of the company flag until 1979, when it disappeared from the main insignia.

Incidentally, the main Indian Steamship Company, Scindia, founded in 1919 also used the Swastika as its commercial emblem.

Hydroelectric Power stations are represented by  blue Swastikas and Geothermal Power Stations by  red Swastikas on the maps of  Iceland today.

The Icelandic Nazi Party

I have left this snippet to the last paragraph not just because it concerns recent history but because it has only a modest significance within the overall picture of Icelandic symbolic tradition.  In the spring of 1934 a Nationalist Party was formed from a merging of the Icelandic Nationalist Movement with the Icelandic Nationalist Party.      However, with a lessening of conservative influence within this new party a more extremist stance was noticeable.

Although German Nazis had made various attempts to establish their influence in the island this was met with scant success.  These Icelanders did believe in the supremacy of the Aryan race, and organized parades through Reykjavik in the ensuing years, but had no desire to be too closely identified with what was happening in mainland Europe.  They dressed in grey shirts and sported armbands decorated with red swastikas.  Their newspaper appeared from time to time, but they did not appear to gain much public support.   The party was formally disbanded in 1944.

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