In his book The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? US graphic design writer Steven Heller shows how it was enthusiastically adopted in the West as an architectural motif, on advertising and product design.
"Coca-Cola used it. Carlsberg used it on their beer bottles. The Boy Scouts adopted it and the Girls' Club of America called their magazine Swastika. They would even send out swastika badges to their young readers as a prize for selling copies of the magazine," he says.
It was used by American military units during World War One and it could be seen on RAF planes as late as 1939. Most of these benign uses came to a halt in the 1930s as the Nazis rose to power in Germany.In fact, its use goes back thousands of years before Adolph Hitler was even born.
Single swastikas began to appear in the Neolithic Vinca culture across south-eastern Europe around 7,000 years ago. But it's in the Bronze Age that they became more widespread across the whole of Europe. In the [Ukrainian National History] Museum's collection there are clay pots with single swastikas encircling their upper half which date back to around 4,000 years ago. When the Nazis occupied Kiev in World War Two they were so convinced that these pots were evidence of their own Aryan ancestors that they took them back to Germany. (They were returned after the war.)