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The Swastika in Finland

17th November 2015
Posted by S Taylor

The Finnish for Swastika is Hakaristi.  This symbol was often found on wooden objects, textiles and fabrics amongst the Finno-Ugric peoples, and regularly appears in the folk culture of Finland.

In the Middle Ages the symbol was used in church fittings, furniture and wall-paintings.  The Hakaristi appears as a Greek-style fret around the door of the Viinikka Church in Tempere, Finland. It is also found on the Finnish musical instrument, kanteles, a type of dulcimer, together with other geometric devices.

Bearing in mind the widespread and almost universal migration of symbols we would expect to find similar usage in a number of neighbouring countries over the centuries, not least in Sweden and Russia.

From the 15th Century Finland had been part of Sweden. However in the 17th Century Russia conquered the eastern part of the Swedish Empire; this became the Grand Princedom of Finland within the tsarist empire.

Fredom  Cross
Cross of Freedom

In the 20th Century Finland regained its freedom from Russian domination.  Finland declared its independence from Russia on 6 December 1917. However, resistance from the communists led to a civil war in 1918.  This was won by the pro-nationalist forces (the ‘Whites’) who celebrated their victory with the issue of a medal known as the “Cross of Freedom.”

The Hakaristi continued to be a popular symbol with the Finnish defence forces, and unsurprisingly became the symbol of the Lotta Svärd  the name of a Finnish women’s voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organization founded in 1918

During the 1920s and 1930s it undertook voluntary social work, but in the 2nd World War it was mobilized to replace men who were conscripted into the army.  During the Finnish Civil War of January – May 1918 they had been linked with the conservative ’Whites’.

roundel
von Rosen roundel

By 1918 the Finnish Government had received the gift of a single engine ski-plane from Sweden, the first machine of their embryonic and independent Finnish Air Force.  The plane had been given and flown in by Count Erik von Rosen.  It came already decorated with Swastika roundels, blue on white, as The Hakaristi was incorporated into the flag of the Presidential Standard of

they were the good luck signs of his family in Sweden. The Hakaristi was incorporated into the flag of the Presidential Standard of Finland for most years between 1920 and 1978.  The symbol also appeared on Finnish banknotes during the Kerensky era.

 

 

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