The swastika was the first symbol of Nazism and remains strongly associated with it in the Western world.
The 20th-century German Nazi Party made extensive use of graphic symbols, especially the swastika, notably in the form of the swastika flag, which became the co-national flag of Nazi Germany in 1933, and the sole national flag in 1935. A very similar flag had represented the Party beginning in 1920.
The Nazis' principal symbol was the hakenkreuz, "hooked-cross" (which resembles the Swastika) which the newly established Nazi Party formally adopted in 1920. The emblem was a black swastika (hooks branching clockwise) rotated 45 degrees on a white circle on a red background. This insignia was used on the party's flag, badge, and armband.
Today, certain countries such as Germany (see Strafgesetzbuch section 86a), Austria, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil, and Israel have banned Nazi symbols and it is considered a criminal offence if they are displayed publicly for non-educational purposes. On August 9, 2018, Germany lifted the ban on the usage of swastikas and other Nazi symbols in video games. "Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating," USK managing director Elisabeth Secker told CTV. "This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and videogames."
The ancient arms of Coburg (left) featured the head of Saint Maurice, a symbol looked down upon by the Nazi party; in 1934, it was replaced by a coat of arms featuring a sword with a swastika on the pommel (right).
Under the Nazi regime, government bodies were encouraged to remove religious symbolism from their heraldry. Symbols such as crosses, saints, etc. were seen as upsetting to National Socialists; however, few German councils actually changed their often ancient symbols. Some, however, did, including Coburg, which replaced the Maure on their arms with a sword and swastika, and Thuringia, which added a swastika to the paws of their lion.
The fascination that runes seem to have exerted on the Nazis can be traced to the occult and völkisch author Guido von List, one of the important figures in Germanic mysticism and runic revivalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1908, List published in Das Geheimnis der Runen ("The Secret of the Runes") a set of 18 so-called "Armanen Runes", based on the Younger Futhark, which were allegedly revealed to him in a state of temporary blindness after a cataract operation on both eyes in 1902.
In Nazi contexts, the s-rune is referred to as "Sig" (after List, probably from Anglo-Saxon Sigel). The "Wolfsangel", while not a rune historically, has the shape of List's "Gibor" rune. Runic "SS" was the symbol of the Schutzstaffel.
Usages by neo-Nazi groups
Many symbols used by the Nazis have further been appropriated by neo-Nazi groups, including a number of runes.
Neo-Nazis however also employ various number symbols such as:
18, code for Adolf Hitler. The number comes from the position of the letters in the alphabet: A = 1, H = 8.