The Finnish Air Force has quietly retired the swastika on one of its official insignia, in an apparent effort to bring an end to criticism over the use of the symbol.
Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Air Force’s Headquarters badge, which contained the swastika, has been progressively replaced since 2017 by the more general Air Force insignia which has a golden eagle at the centre of a design featuring elements by renowned Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
Professor Teivo Teivainen, who has written extensively about the continued use of the swastika by the military, says he had already noticed the controversial emblem’s lower profile on the Air Force’s website.
“The reform has been done with minimal noise. To the best of my knowledge, no press releases or other information have been deemed necessary” Teivainen writes.
The use of the swastika by the Finnish Air Force Command dates back to 1918 when Swedish Count Eric von Rosen gifted a plan to newly-independent Finland. The plane had his personal insignia on it, a swastika.
So while the use of the swastika by the Finnish military pre-dates the Nazis, the symbol is forever associated with Adolf Hitler’s murderous regime rather than an obscure Swedish nobleman. The Air Force however ended its practice of putting a blue swastika insignia on the side of planes many years ago.
Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Air Force said the insignia sometimes drew negative comments abroad, and they thought it was easier to change it rather than to explain its origins every time.
Reaction to the swastika switch
While there has been a positive reaction on social media to the change from many quarters, other people in Finland have reacted negatively to the Air Force’s quiet insignia switch.
“High time: Outside Finland, the swastika is a polluted symbol that always inevitably connects its users to the Nazis” writes Risto Pyykö.
“Symbols can cause pain, it is good to acknowledge this and look instead for symbols that unite people” writes Lyyli Ank.
“Shame on you, sheep of Satan! Let’s get on your knees in front of the Marxists” writes Axu Walton.
“Unbelievable. History is history. It will not disappear or change. No need to change IDs” says Kari Lappalainen.