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Finland's air force logo drops swastika

Ankita Mukhopadhyay
July 2, 2020

The Finnish air force command has dropped the swastika from its logo without making an announcement. The air force had been using the symbol since 1918.

A blue flag with a swastika at the Finnish air force academy
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/ LEHTIKUVA/V.Moilanen

Finland has changed the general staff ID and logo of its Air Force Command without making an announcement of the new logo.

While the new logo is a golden eagle and a circle of wings, the old logo had a swastika — a symbol deeply linked to Nazi Germany.

Teivo Teivainen, an academic at the University of Helsinki, first observed the change. Finland's air force had been using the swastika since 1918.

While the air force had stopped using the swastika on its planes after World War II, the symbol featured on unit emblems, unit flags and uniforms, an air force spokesperson told the BBC.

The spokesperson added that the logo of the Air Force Command and the Air Force service were made to match in January 2017 to a golden eagle and circle of wings, removing the swastika. 

How did a symbol of anti-Semitism make its way to Finland?

The swastika entered Finland's air force through a Swedish nobleman, Count Eric von Rosen.

He had gifted a plane to the air force of Finland in 1918, with a blue swastika painted on it. Rosen used to consider the swastika a good luck charm.

Subsequent planes in the Finnish air force continued to use the symbol, which eventually became associated with anti-Semitism after Hitler adopted the swastika for the Nazi party.

Rosen didn't have any Nazi associations in 1918, but eventually formed a connection to Nazi Germany through his brother-in-law, who was a personal friend of Hitler.

Why was the change made after almost a century?

Teivainen postulated that the change was made in 2017 because the swastika could potentially be used against the Finnish army and affect the attitude of young people towards the military. He added that Finland's neighbor Russia could also interpret the symbol as a sign that Finland is an enemy.

The logo of Finland's air force academy continues to feature the swastika symbol.