SWASTIKA comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means ‘good fortune’ and was first used in Eurasia — as long as 7000 years ago.

But in the wake of Nazi Germany in WWII, the symbol of the hooked cross is not used by anyone of Western culture other than far right extremists.

The symbol is still widely seen on buildings in some parts of India, and several other countries, where it remains a historical good luck sign.

In past years it was also used in advertising.

You could get Swastika brand California fruit, there was a metal swastika Coca Cola bottle opener, there was a Canadian ice hockey team called the Windsor Swastikas and you could once buy a lovely T-shirt with a big multicoloured swastika and the word ‘Peace’ below.

Another T-shirt had ‘If this offends you, you need a history lesson’ circled around a swastika that looked as if it had been coated in pink icing and some radical US Democrats had a sign made of Donald Trump flanked by swastikas disguised as dollars.

But when a Mexican VW dealership displayed a swastika and a picture of Adolf Hitler at a pre-WWII Nazi rally, things went very wrong.

A lady complained, VW saw her tweet – and immediately terminated its ties with the dealership in Coyoacán. 

‘We strongly condemn that these images were exhibited in their facilities, which showed a regime that emphasised hatred and discrimination in a time in history that fortunately remained behind,’ Volkswagen said in a statement. 

The image came to light after a Twitter user shared the photo on the social media platform and chastised the dealership for displaying the poster.

‘It’s a shame that @Volkswagen_MX Coyoacán agency hung up this photo,’ Adina Chemilsky wrote. 

‘Hanging a swastika is an apology for the worst crime of humanity. Someone who is anti-Semitic is homophobic and racist.’

The image shows a black VW bug in front of a stage during a 1938 Nazi rally, with Adolf Hitler in the background. 

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Volkswagen de Mexico apologised to Ms Chemilsky, whose grandparents were born in Germany, and condemned the exhibition of the painting, which was hung up next to the entrance of a department office inside the dealership. 

‘Hi Adina. We have a history that we have learned from,’ the VW de Mexico wrote on its Twitter account. 

‘We value respect, fairness, inclusion and freedom. We do not tolerate manifestations of hatred and discrimination. 

‘The images do not correspond to our corporate image or that of the distributors. We will take action.’ 

The Coyoacán dealership, which first opened its doors in 1968, said the picture was only exhibited because it was one of nine at the office that celebrated the evolution of the Beetle throughout the years.

‘This photograph, the same that until yesterday was shown in the administrative area of the distributor’s offices, is part of a photographic collection of 9 images that show the different stages through which the Volkswagen Type 1, sedan or vocho, passed, an extraordinary work engineering of the time and one of the best-selling cars in the world,’ the dealership said.

‘The image in question does not seek to condone one of the most cruel and inhumane passages in recent history nor to make an apology for an ideology enormously harmful to Europe and the whole world, and which certainly does not represent any of the employees and workers of the company.’

Beetles were for long produced at the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico, which shut down in 2019.

It was the only one in the world still manufacturing the car known to Mexicans as the ‘vocho’.

Hitler sought to fulfil his project for a ‘people’s car’ that would spread car ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the US. 

The car’s original design – a rounded silhouette with seating for four or five, nearly vertical windshield and the air-cooled engine in the rear – can be traced back to Ferdinand Porsche, who was commanded by the German dictator to bring the Beetle to life. 

It debuted in 1938 before bombs were dropped in World War II, wiping out the manufacturing plant in Wolfsburg.  

After the war, British Army Major Ivan Hirst was tasked with getting the vehicle back into production. He had earlier spotted a Beetle that survived the massive airstrikes at the facility.

The rest was history as it instantly became a favourite for consumers worldwide. 

 

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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