The eagle is one of the most common figures depicted on coats of arms. This proud and strong king bird symbolizes not only power and dominance, but also courage, bravery and insight. In the 20th century, Nazi Germany adopted the eagle as its emblem. Read more about the imperial eagle of the 3rd Reich below in the article.
Eagle in heraldry
There is a certain, historically established classification for symbols in heraldry. All symbols are divided into heraldic and non-heraldic figures. If the former rather show how different color areas divide the very field of the armorial shield and have an abstract meaning (cross, border or belt), then the latter depict images of objects or creatures, fictional or quite real. The eagle is a natural non-heraldic figure and is believed to be the second most common in this category after the lion.
As a symbol of supreme power, the eagle has been known since antiquity. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified him with the supreme gods - Zeus and Jupiter. This isthe personification of active solar energy, power and inviolability. Often he became the personification of the heavenly god: if the celestial was reincarnated as a bird, then only as majestic as an eagle. The eagle also symbolizes the victory of the spirit over earthly nature: soaring to heaven is nothing but constant development and ascension over one's own weaknesses.
Eagle in the symbols of Germany
For historical Germany, the king of birds served as a heraldic symbol for a long time. The eagle of the 3rd Reich is just one of its incarnations. The beginning of this story can be considered the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire in 962. The double-headed eagle became the coat of arms of this state in the 15th century, and previously belonged to one of its rulers - Emperor Henry IV. From that moment on, the eagle has been invariably present on the coat of arms of Germany.
During the period of the monarchy, the crown was placed over the eagle as a symbol of imperial power, during the period of the republic it disappeared. The prototype of the modern coat of arms of Germany is the heraldic eagle of the Weimar Republic, adopted as a state symbol in 1926, and then restored in the post-war period - in 1950. During the rise of the Nazis, a new image of the eagle was created.
Eagle of the 3rd Reich
After coming to power, the Nazis used the coat of arms of the Weimar Republic until 1935. In 1935, Adolf Hitler himself established a new coat of arms in the form of a black eagle with outstretched wings. This eagle holds a wreath of oak branches in its paws. The swastika, a symbol borrowed by the Nazis, is inscribed in the center of the wreath.from Eastern culture. The eagle, looking to the right, was used as a state symbol and was called the state or imperial - Reichsadler. The left-facing eagle remained as a symbol of the party called Partayadler - the party eagle.
Distinctive features of Nazi symbols - clarity, straight lines, sharp corners, which gives the symbols a formidable, even sinister look. This uncompromising sharpness of angles was reflected in any creation of the culture of the Third Reich. Such gloomy majesty was present in monumental architectural structures, and even in musical works.
It has been more than 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany, and its main symbol - the swastika - still causes a lot of criticism in society. But the swastika is a much more ancient symbol, only borrowed by the Nazis. It is found in the symbolism of many ancient cultures and symbolizes the solstice - the course of the luminary across the sky. The word "swastika" itself has an Indian origin: in Sanskrit it means "well-being". In Western culture, this symbol was known under other names - gammadion, tetraskelion, filfot. The Nazis themselves called this symbol "Hackenkreuz" - a cross with hooks.
According to Hitler, the swastika is chosen as a symbol of the continuous struggle of the Aryan race for dominance. The sign was rotated 45 degrees and placed in a white circle against the background of a red flag - solooked like the flag of Nazi Germany. The choice of the swastika was a very successful strategic decision. This symbol is very effective and memorable, and the one who first gets acquainted with its unusual form, unconsciously feels the desire to try to draw this sign.
From that time on, the ancient sign of the swastika fell into oblivion. If earlier the whole world did not hesitate to use a rectangular spiral as a symbol of well-being - from Coca-Cola advertising to greeting cards, then in the second half of the 20th century the swastika was banished from Western culture for a long time. And only now, with the development of intercultural communication, the true meaning of the swastika is beginning to revive.
Symbolic of the oak wreath
Besides the swastika, there was another symbol on the coat of arms of the Wehrmacht. In its paws, the eagle of the 3rd Reich holds an oak wreath. This image means much more to the German people than the swastika. Oak has long been considered an important tree for the Germans: like the laurel wreath in Rome, oak branches have become a sign of power and victory.
The image of oak branches was intended to endow the owner of the coat of arms with the power and stamina of this royal tree. For the Third Reich, it became one of the symbols of loy alty and national unity. The symbolism of the leaves was used in the details of the uniform and orders.
Nazi eagle tattoo
Representatives of radical minorities tend to push the degree of their loy alty to the group to the limit. Nazi symbols often become a detail of tattoos, including the eagle of the 3rd Reich. Designation of tattooslies on the surface. In order to decide to perpetuate the fascist eagle on your body, you must absolutely share and agree with the views of the National Socialists. Most often, the eagle is applied on the back, then the contours of the wings lie clearly on the shoulders. There are also similar tattoos on other parts of the body, such as the biceps or even the heart.
After the War: Downed Eagle
In several museums around the world, the defeated bronze eagle of the 3rd Reich is on display as a war trophy. During the capture of Berlin, the Allied forces actively destroyed all kinds of Nazi symbols. Sculptural images of an eagle, swastika and other significant images were knocked down from buildings without much ceremony. In Moscow, a similar eagle is on display at the Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (the former name is the Central Museum of the Red Army) and at the Museum of the Border Service of the FSB. The photo below shows a similar bronze eagle on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Wehrmacht eagle without swastika
Today, the Wehrmacht eagle is still associated with Nazi symbols. The characteristic silhouette and contour make it possible to identify in any seemingly neutral image of a bird an eagle of the Third Reich and without a swastika. For example, in the city of Orel in December 2016, a scandal erupted due to the fact that residents of Orel saw a Nazi symbol in the decor of new benches. However, the local press notes that such discussions regarding similarity / dissimilarity andassociations with the fascists arise around almost every new image of an eagle, not only in the city of the same name, but in general throughout the country. Remember, for example, the symbol of Special Communications - an eagle with outstretched wings was approved back in 1999. When comparing it with the subject of our article, you can see that the logo really resembles the eagle of the 3rd Reich in the photo.
In addition to that part of the population that perceives any hint of fascist symbols in the logo as a personal insult, there is also a category of people who treat this with humor. A frequent pastime for designers is to cut out the swastika from the coat of arms with an eagle so that anything can be inserted there. Moreover, there are even cartoons where instead of an eagle there can be any other character with wings. For the same reason, the eagle of the 3rd Reich without a background, drawn in vector format, is popular. In this case, it is much easier to "pull" it from the original document and add it to any other image.