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July 3, 2016

Mysterious Forest Swastika in Germany Remained Unnoticed Until 1992

An landscaping company intern in 1992, ├ľkoland Dederow saw the brown-yellow Swastikas while looking for irrigation lines through aerial photographs.

For decade, this swastika of larch trees stood undiscovered in the middle of dense pine forest near the village of Zernikow, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of Berlin. After the Nazi symbol was discovered in an aerial photograph in 1992, a scandal broke out that did serious damage to the area's reputation.

Local foresters said that the trees (which change color in the fall) were planted in contrast to the evergreen forest (which stays green always) in late 1930s. But it was not discovered for such a long period of time because of the ban of private planes in East Germany, in addition to the low flight that would be required to see the symbols.

The Forest Swastikas were chopped off once in 1995, and another in 2000, but the trees grew back once again. Kyrgystan and other parts of Germany also suffer from the unrelenting plague.

A forestry worker cuts down one of the larch trees in December 2000 after the swastika formation had drawn international outrage for a second time. The felling of the formation, which is 60 meters (197 feet) on each end, was only approved by the owners after much wrangling.

The larch trees were only visible in the fall, and was reportedly planted for to celebrate Hitler's birthday (though Hitler's birthday is in April). The Swastikas were confirmed to be about 200 by 200 feet. One farmer said that the trees were planted for a few cents per seedling, while others say that the forest swastikas were placed to represent loyalty to the Nazis, in fear of some villages being taken to concentration camps after one of their own was captured.

The planting of swastika formations, like this one near the town of Asterode in the western state of Hesse, was popular among foresters throughout various regions of Nazi Germany. There were many swastikas in the forests surrounding Berlin until they were removed under Soviet occupation.

One of the forests had the year "1933" built into it, as Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Whatever the reason might be for the evil signs that is permanently scarring the land, german officials are seeking for a way to remove the trees again once and for all, so that their shame would not be reminded on its landscapes.

In this same wooded area of Asterode in Hesse, the numbers "1933," the year Hitler came to power, were spelled out in larch trees across a backdrop of pine forest, bursting into color in autumn. The eyesores remained for a long time, until the early 1960s, when American occupying forces discovered the trees during an aerial reconnaissance flight and complained to the local government.

Though the prominent swastika in the Uckermark region pictured above was eventually cut down in 2000, occasionally new swastika formations will show up in planting pattern, a disturbing sign of neo-Nazis, like this one, just discovered in 2010:

While most German forest swastikas were created by card-carrying Nazis in the 1930s, the symbol has also occurred more recently. It's still unknown who trampled this swastika into a Bavarian corn field in August of 2010.


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