The Nazis were, as much as any other political group in modern history, masters of iconography and symbolism. The swastika, the eagle and wreath, the solid stone architecture, the sweeping art deco designs, the long red banners, the unique salute, the cathedral of light, and so on. They consistently used symbolism and iconography to spread their message and demonstrate their power to the world.

I'm wondering, how much of that symbolism came from Hitler himself, and how much came from people around him? Obviously some of those symbols (like the swastika and the eagle/wreath) are much older than Nazism, but someone still had to have the thought, "hey, you know that old symbol from history, let's use that."

Was that person Hitler? Or did he just approve someone else's design? I'm trying to get a sense of how much personal talent Hitler had for iconic design, vs how much talent he had for identifying talented people who could help his cause.

  • 3
  • 7
    Do you have a reason to believe any of these symbols come from Hitler? If not, perhaps this question is better expressed as "where did all this iconography come from". Jan 8, 2014 at 7:05
  • 1
    @congusbongus "it is known" that Hitler was somewhat fond of heraldry; while I don't know if that's true or false, it's still a "commonly known fact", so phrasing the question this way makes sense, in this light. (I reiterate, just to be sure: I'm not saying this is correct, I'm just explaining the likely reason this question was phrased this way)
    – o0'.
    Jan 8, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    @congusbongus "None" is a perfectly valid answer to "how much." :) As Lohoris said, I'm coming from the assumption that Hitler provided at least some of it, because of his much-discussed interest in such matters (for example, Hitler apparently insisted on stone for the Olympic stadium rather than the architect's preference for glass), but if you can show that every instance of Nazi iconography came from other sources, that would still be a great answer!
    – Nerrolken
    Jan 8, 2014 at 17:49
  • I think that @FelixGoldberg's reference to Speer is part of the answer.
    – MCW
    May 19, 2014 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


World does not know much about this topic, but we for sure know that Nazi flag was created by Adolf Hitler himself:

In 1920, Adolf Hitler decided that the Nazi Party needed its own insignia and flag. For Hitler, the new flag had to be "a symbol of our own struggle" as well as "highly effective as a poster." (Mein Kampf, pg. 495). Nazi Germany flag that was used from 1933 - 1945 was created by Adolf Hitler and it was one of the main icons of Nazi Germany. It was defined by Adolf Hitler: The red represents the social idea of the Nazi movement, the white disk represents the national idea, and the black swastika, used in Aryan cultures for millennia, represents "the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of creative work".

  • 1
    @MarkC.Wallace Citation is from Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf as you can see. Other information I have found on internet and Wikipedia and some of things I learned by myself. May 19, 2014 at 19:07
  • 3
    @MarkC.Wallace Mein Kampf is indeed the source for this, and is often used as such, including by National Geographic in their history series about Nazi Germany. Unless you doubt the authenticity of Mein Kampf in this (and who knows, he might have adopted the design from elsewhere and called it his own), it's as good as it gets, right from the horse's mouth. I've not come across any other accounts.
    – jwenting
    May 20, 2014 at 10:27

Most of it was not invented by Hitler at all, but was already beloved by Germany's military and right wing. In World War One, the swastika wasn't used officially, but was unofficially painted on the sides of German tanks and aeroplanes; the Iron Cross went back a century; the death's-head insignia that the SS adopted can be seen on the shakos of a German unit called the Imperial Death's-Head Hussars; the red, white and black color scheme of the Third Reich's flags were the same colors as Imperial Germany's (and there was quite a lot of discussion between the world wars about which colors the flag should be, with a lot of contempt from the right wing for the red, white and gold of Weimar Germany); and the eagle was a long-standing symbol of Germany.

So it isn't actually as if Hitler or his satraps thought "hey, we should bring back this thing from history." All of these icons had already been well-established in German military and right-wing circles throughout the imperial and Weimar years, through the time when Hitler came to power.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.