Horticultural Hate: The Mystery of the Forest Swastikas

In Sept. 2006, the New York Times also reported on a complete forest near the remote village of Tash-Bashat, in Kyrgystan, shaped as a swastika. The origins of this swastika in reverse measuring some 180 meters (600 feet) across were also shrouded in legend and uncertainty. One villager claimed that an ethnic German forest supervisor, who had been exiled to the east but was a Nazi sympathizer, directed the planting of the forest in the 1940s. Another reported that the trees had been planted by a mysterious "professor" in the 1960s before he was taken away by the KGB. A local guide said the trees had been planted in the late 1930s as a sign of German-Russian friendship when Hitler and Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. Reporter C.J. Chivers also found legends the forest had been planted by German POWs pressed into forestry duty. He never did track down its true origins, but he wrote that, if it really really was planted by German prisoners, the "symmetry in the tree line … may be the Third Reich's only practical joke."

This article originally appeared in German on einestages.de , SPIEGEL ONLINE's history portal.

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