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Origins of Forest Swastika in East Germany Remain a Mystery

Jul 09, 2013 07:53 AM EDT
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In 1992, an intern in East Germany noticed that some trees in the forest grew in the shape of the notorious Nazi symbol- the swastika. However, even after two decades and multiple sightings in other parts of Germany, the mystery of the larch tree swastika persists.

Each autumn, larch trees turn yellow in the evergreen pine forests near Zernikow, a rural village 60 miles north of Berlin, revealing a symbol associated with the Nazi fanaticism. According to German media, the trees might have been planted around 1938 by a forest warden.

The 200-by-200 foot symbol was discovered by Ökoland Dederow who was searching for aerial photographs for irrigation lines. He then reported it to his supervisor, Günter Reschke, reports Spiegel Online.

Nobody is sure about the origin of the Swastika in the forest. There were many rumors about the issue immediately after its discovery in the 1990s. One local farmer said that he planted the trees when he was a boy. According to others, the leafy symbol was a birthday gift to Adolf Hitler, HNGN reports.

Over the years, several attempts have been made to cut some of the larch trees in Zernikow forest so that the symbol is no longer recognizable. In 1995, about 40 larch trees were cut down. But, the trees grew back by the 2000, which grabbed international media headlines again, reports Spiegel Online.

Officials feared that the site could be a sort of pilgrimage spot for neo- Nazis. However, the plan wasn't put into action as most of the trees were in a disputed area. By December of 2000, forest officials got permission to cut down 25 trees.

In 2006, another such symbol made of 600 fir trees appeared in the forests near Tash-Bashat, Kyrgyzstan. According to a local legend, the Swastika in Kyrgyzstan was placed by German prisoners who were assigned to forestry duties after World War II.

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