Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Hitler Swastika Thrilled Ancient Sun Worshippers: Lewis Lapham

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:
Lewis Lapham
Lewis Lapham, of "Lapham's Quarterly," in New York. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Widely spread throughout the world, the swastika has been around for at least 10,000 years as an auspicious symbol, often associated with the power of the sun. Hitler appropriated it as the official emblem of the Nazi Party on Aug. 7, 1920.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

In the 1870s, Volk movements began idealizing the racial purity of their Teutonic forebears and worshipping the sun, believing it was “the sole God of true Germans.”

At the same time, the swastika gained popularity after archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann found multiple instances of the hooked cross when digging out Troy.

After World War I, anti-Semitic and militaristic groups adopted the swastika as their central symbol, until Hitler finally chose it for the Nazis.

When Charlie Chaplin -- as Adenoid Hynkel of Tomania -- skewered Hitler in his prescient 1940s film “The Great Dictator,” he sat underneath two black crosses inside a radiant circle. This represented the party of the “Sons and Daughters of the Double Cross.”

I spoke with Richard Cohen, author of “Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life,” on the following topics:

1. Sunspot Cycles

2. Eyes of Artists

3. Sovereign Symbolism

4. Solar Deities

5. Getting Tan

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.