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Finland discreetly removes swastika from air force emblem

Credit: Finnish Ministry of Defence

Finland has quietly removed the swastikas from some of its air force planes and replaced them with eagles, a less infamous symbol than the swastika adopted by the Nazis, the staff said on Thursday.

The decision to remove the emblem dates back to 2017, but had never been made public. Its revelation was addressed by Teivo Teivainen, a professor at the University of Helsinki.

Although Finland fought the Soviet Union alongside the Nazis from 1941 to 1944, the origin of its swastika actually dates back more than two decades.

In 1918, shortly after Finland’s independence from Russia, Swedish Count Eric von Rosen gave the young Republic its first aircraft, a plane with a blue swastika, the man’s own lucky charm.

The swastika, one of the oldest symbols of humanity, especially in Europe and Asia, “was also a symbol in Finnish mythology, so it was natural to use it,” a Finnish army spokesperson said.

According to the staff, the newly adopted emblem – with golden eagles – has been the official symbol of the Finnish Air Force since 2002. But several units, aircraft, flags and decorations had kept the swastika, the official symbol from 1918 to 1945.

“It is something we had to explain to foreigners who linked it to Nazi Germany, even though it had completely different origins,” Henrik Gahmberg, Chief of Staff, said.

Three years ago, Finland quietly decided that it was no longer possible for its planes to wear swastikas, 72 years after the end of the Second World War.

The Swedish count who created the Finnish swastika, however, did have a connection with the Hitler regime: he had been related to Hermann Göring, since Göring’s marriage in 1923 to his sister-in-law Carin von Kantzow, whom he had introduced to the future head of the Luftwaffe in the winter of 1920-21.

After a first war against the USSR between November 1939 and March 1940 (“Winter War”), triggered by a Soviet invasion, Finland resumed fighting with Germany against the Soviets in June 1941 following Operation Barbarossa, until September 1944. Under pressure from Moscow, the country declared war on Germany in March 1945.

The Brussels Times

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