Things the Nazis ruined for everyone

Within our lifetimes, I don’t think Germany will ever live down the Nazis. The knowledge that your ancestors were deluded by the purest evil in history is a huge blow to the old self-image. And they’re reminded of it an hundreds of Hollywood movies, because Nazis are an easy fallback bad guy for lazy writers.

Thing is, there are some things that we associate with the Nazi regime that were perfectly legitimate and normal before 1939. The Nazis just ruined these things for everyone.


The “Roman salute” may not actually have been used by the ancient Romans, but it was pretty widespread by 1933. It had been depicted in art since at least 1784, and while it was official in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, it was also the preferred salute to the U.S. flag during the pledge of allegiance.

Today, it is banned in Germany because of its Nazi connotations, and anybody who does it looks like a neo-Nazi, even if all they are trying to do is show their team spirit for USC:


The swastika has been around for millenia. Swastikas have been found at ancient Neolithic sites dating back to 4000 BC and earlier.

This dates from way before 1933.

In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is a sacred symbol. Hindus see it as representing the creator god Brahma, and Buddhists see it as representing eternity. Some legends say Buddha’s followers stamped a swastika on his chest after he died.

The swastika was widely used by Native Americans in the Southwest like the Navajo and Hopi. The Navajo used it in healing riutals.

Meanwhile, archeology has turned up many uses of the swastika by pre-Christian Europeans, who may have associated it with Thor. In the early 20th century, the symbol was in vogue as a good luck charm. Rudyard Kipling stamped it in his books, and aviators carried it with them as they flew.

Image taken in 1912, seven years before the Nazi Party was even founded.

Then, the Nazis had to go and make it the official symbol of their movement. Maybe they thought that this would bring their movement good luck, but now the swastika is banned in many countries and even in those places where it is legal, it is so assocaited with Nazism that non-Nazi uses have to be explained to passers-by. Way to go.


Nothing says classic comedy like Charlie Chaplin, everyone’s favorite black-and-white goofball with his characteristic moustache.

Chaplin in 1910

What a likeable guy! And I bet his popularity led to a slew of people copying that moustache style. I mean, who wouldn’t want to…


Yeah. So now you can’t wear that shortened moustache without looking like a rascist. Way to ruin it for us, Hitler.

Images from Wikipedia