Researching the scapegoating
“Hakenkreuz”- NOT Swastika
Mistranslations and misuse of the word and the symbol “Swastika”
Misnomers and mistranslations are rampant in today’s world. Some are benign while some can lead to misunderstandings so great that the result is vandalization and catastrophes. The “Swastika” is one such misnomer deliberately propagated on various media platforms, despite being corrected repeatedly.
Hakenkreuz apparently got translated to Nazi Swastika
When Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf was being translated by James Vincent Murphy into English, he substituted the word Swastika for Hakenkreuz. It’s ironic how the very title of the book Mein Kampf was retained, while the word Hakenkreuz was translated into something that has no connection with it — not even their appearances.
James Vincent Murphy could’ve easily kept the original word instead of being a perfectionist. While translating Hitler’s biography word to word, he seems to have been in a dilemma when he’s met with the term “Hakenkreuz”. It seems to confuse the priest between staying true to his translations or maligning his faith just because of a simple noun.
When he translated the book in the 1930s, India was still a British colony. Hinduism was looked down upon by British leaders. James Vincent Murphy seems to have found the solution to his ordeal in this contemptuous narrative. The blatant use of the word “Swastika” as a translation for a Nazi symbol, clearly reflects an attempt to shift the blame on clueless communities that were colonized for ages. A New York Times article published in March 1933, followed suit as the term “Hooked Cross” seemed too uncomfortable to use because the word was close to “Christian cross”.
What motivated Murphy to call the Hakenkreuz “Swastika” is something that has neither been researched nor debated upon. His sources for proving a connection between the two, other than the subtle similarities between the appearances of the two symbols is never questioned.
Hakenkreuz and media propaganda
It is an irony how “Haken” and “Kreuz” together, are still deliberately translated into “Nazi Swastika” when Swastika has nothing to do with Nazism. The word when broken down into syllables, literally translates to something completely different. Just because Hitler drew inspiration from the term Aryan, doesn’t mean someone gets a free license to use content from scriptures mentioning the word Arya. James Vincent Murphy took the true translation so personally that he felt compelled to insert an unrelated Sanskrit word. This can be reasoned with, given the situation in the 20th century.
But Google Translator of the 21st century, audaciously making such mistakes is flabbergasting. Doesn’t this mean that the media and some politicians still feel entitled to use the word in different unrelated contexts, as and when they deem it fit, to suit their agendas? The Swastika isn’t anyone’s private property to be brazenly misused like this for spreading hate.
Adolf Hitler and John Vincent Murphy both are gone. But instead of correcting their mistakes and misnomers, the media and some politicians believe in carrying them forward because it suits their narrative. While keeping their masses in the dark, they continue to malign a symbol considered sacred by more than a billion people following Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. The only purpose this mistranslation serves is to create a deep divide.
It misleads search results, SEOs, and anyone who has access to the internet or such false content. You can do an experiment right here on the Medium search bar. You’ll find only one (and after this two) articles with the tag “Hakenkreuz” but innumerable articles on “Swastika” being a Nazi symbol.
The statements are so deeply flawed that people are finding every possible way to justify that Swastika is indeed a Nazi symbol and not a part of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. So much so that three religions that consider Swastika as a sacred symbol, are being labeled as antisemitic.
Oxford Languages goes to the extent of calling the Hakenkreuz- a “swastika” as if signifying that the Hakenkreuz is not literally a crooked cross but a swastika! Wikipedia callously puts the information about Hakenkreuz under the Swastika article. The former doesn’t even have an article of its own!
Symbols and their effect on the masses
Back in the 9th-grade Civics course, we were taught that the political parties have symbols because it’s feasible for people with no literacy to recognize the political parties while voting in EVMs and ballots. Wrong symbols send wrong messages to people with no education. This quote clearly depicts the power of symbols-
A picture speaks a thousand words
People with a large following or speaking on a public platform can sway the masses. When the media misleads such high-profile people with misinformation, they in turn deceive the common people who look up to these influencers and politicians.
It’s even more despicable when the high-profile individual in concern knows the facts well, but still voluntarily ignores them while deliberately continuing to propagate falsehood. If not them, then we need to remember that such people have a responsibility. And question the perspectives being fed to us.
It was surprising to see how the search results for the German version of Mein Kampf had only “Hakenkreuz” everywhere while the English version had “Swastika”. No signs of the opposite (not even the spellings, svastika, swastica, or “svastica” as mentioned in this Italian article). Planning to go through both versions more thoroughly once time permits.
Swastika is not only an auspicious symbol but is also used as a Hindu female name. There are entire chapters dedicated to it in the Vedas. My earnest request to anyone reading this would be to research and cross-check the dates, years, words, mentions of controversial words, backgrounds of authors, original works, and translations.
This dirt has been maliciously thrown for too long despite repeated corrections. Please go farther down the search pages rather than clicking the SEO-powered links before you label the Hindu Swastika as antisemitic instead of the original Nazi Hakenkreuz.
The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler’s Cross by Rev Dr. T K Nakagaki
Panel discussion organized by Rev. Dr. T K Nakagaki
Lost in Mistranslation: Why the Hindu Swastika is nothing like the German Hakenkreuz
Nazi Germany had two famous symbols - the Balkenkreuz and the Hakenkreuz. A combination of "kreuz" meaning cross and…
Swastika Education & Awareness Campaigns:
Thank you for your time!