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In Germany, it is illegal to publicly display Nazi symbols, including the swastika. However, the swastika (and its chiral counterpart, the sauwastika) are Buddhist and Hindu religious symbols with thousands of years of history.

Would it be legal in Germany for someone to display swastikas in a specifically Buddhist or Hindu religious context (e.g. incorporating them into the architecture of a Buddhist or Hindu temple)?

I did a Google search and all I could find were pages talking about how the swastika wasn’t always a Nazi symbol.

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Would it be legal in Germany for someone to display swastikas in a specifically Buddhist or Hindu religious context (e.g. incorporating them into the architecture of a Buddhist or Hindu temple)?

Yes, it would be legal, since through the religious context it is clear that the conditions set in 86 StGB (Dissemination of propaganda material of unconstitutional organisations) are not fulfilled.

The Das Buddhistische Haus in Berlin, founded in 1924, may be able to give more information about how this was delt with in the aftermath of the war.


Erlaubt wurden später aber Hakenkreuze, die den Nationalsozialismus objektiv nicht befürworten:

  • Hakenkreuz im Verbotsschild
  • in Kunstwerken, zum Beispiel politischen Karikaturen,
  • in Auktionskatalogen,
  • zur Religionsausübung der Falun Gong in Deutschland,
  • als Anti-Nazi-Symbole von antifaschistischen Gruppen zur Ablehnung rechtsextremer Organisationen und Ideologien. Damit hob der Bundesgerichtshof 2007 vorherige Urteile gegen Verwender von Antinazisymbolen auf.

However, swastikas were later allowed that objectively do not support National Socialism:

  • Swastika in the prohibition sign in works of art,
  • for example political cartoons,
  • in auction catalogs,
  • for practicing Falun Gong in Germany,
  • as anti-Nazi symbols of anti-fascist groups to reject extreme right-wing organizations and ideologies. In 2007, the Federal Court of Justice overturned previous judgments against users of anti-Nazi symbols.

Sources:

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