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Nazi flags and banners Goldstein’s grandfather died in 2015, the family inherited an old Nazi flag that had been hanging in his house. It was a large red banner with printed swastika roundels, the kind that flew on government buildings during the Third Reich.

The Nazis were prolific flag-makers, and after the end of the regime an untold number of them remained. Some were kept by those who still clung to the ideas of National Socialism, others ended up in the hands of neo-Nazis. A few made their way to the United States, often in the rucksacks of soldiers returning home after the war.

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These flags have become important cultural objects—they provide an invaluable glimpse into a society that willingly cooperated with the Nazi regime and the ways in which propaganda worked. And yet, they’re also deeply problematic as symbols of anti-Semitism and genocide.

For this reason, many museums don’t take them. But even when a museum does agree to accept a nazi flag, the process of acquiring one can be difficult.

The story of the swastika begins long before its association with the nazi regime. It is a symbol that has been used around the world for thousands of years, and throughout history for a wide range of purposes.

In the 1930s, before Hitler’s personal flag was designed, a common practice in Germany was for families to make their own nazi flags. The practice is reflected in literature, including the 1945 best-selling novel Barb – die Roman einer deutschen Frau (Barb — A Novel of a German Woman). At the end of the book, the protagonist’s character sews herself a huge banner that she proudly hangs in her apartment.

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