Shane Daly tells the story of the Irishwoman who married Hitler’s older brother…and what happened next.


Having read the title of this piece, I can say with some confidence that the first word ‘Swastika’ brought immediately to your mind’s eye, was the stereotypical swastika that Hitler used for his Nazi Party.

The swastika that represented hate, discrimination and evokes revulsion today in the 21st century.

The swastika now is possibly the most powerful and universal symbol of hate known to man. However, what is often forgotten is that the swastika was a symbol of peace and tranquillity until Hitler appropriated it.

The earliest known depiction of a swastika dates back to over 15,000 years ago. It was first discovered where current day Ukraine is now. It was a depiction of a bird carved out of the tusk of a mammoth with various designs also etched onto the tusk, including the swastika. This means that Palaeolithic humans were carving them onto the tusks of what is now an extinct animal.

Swastikas are found on Ogham stones in Ireland. Native Americans with no contact outside of Native America had swastikas present on their native designs; they used them to decorate personal items.

Buddhism uses them. In Buddhism a swastika represents eternity and reincarnation.
The Swastika is ubiquitous as a design, in pretty much every country in the world.

Hitler came to power in Germany and realised the swastika was sufficiently iconic for him to use, and irrevocably changed the outlook and perception of the swastika forever.

Interestingly, most swastikas around the world look the same. There have been fifteen millennia of carvings, etchings, drawings and paintings and all, for the most part are very similar. All easily identifiable. All instantly recognisable as a swastika.
Hitler’s version too, was instantly recognisable. However, Hitler’s was different. Hitler’s was more striking. It was more imposing. The reason for this was that his version was on a blood-red background with a jet-black swastika laid on top of a snow-white disk.

For 15,000 years every single swastika was uniform, until Hitler adopted his design in 1925 for his Nazi Party. You can travel anywhere in the world, search every nook and every cranny. You will not find any other swastika that resembles Hitler’s version, except for one place. Dublin.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own