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Sun Wheel

Nazi Germany glorified an idealized "Aryan/Norse" heritage, consequently extremists have appropriated many symbols from pre-Christian Europe for their own uses. They give such symbols a racist significance, even though the symbols did not originally have such meaning and are often used by nonracists today, especially practitioners of modern pagan religions

Symbol Type

Neo-Nazi symbol

Symbol Description

A circle containing many crooked rays emanating from a center point (sometimes, but not always, a swastika appears in the center).

Also Known As

Sonnenrad, Black Sun (Schwarze Sonne)

Traditional Use/Origins

The sunwheel is a traditional symbol representing the sun; variants of the sunwheel appear in many cultures today.

Hate Group/Extremist Organization

Neo-Nazis, racist skinheads

Extremist Meaning or Representation

The sunwheel is used as an alternative to the swastika.


The sunwheel has ancient Indo-European roots; as a result, it appears in the traditional symbology of many countries and cultures around the world, including Old Norse and Celtic cultures. There are many variations of the sunwheel; the swastika (and similar rounded variants) are actually sunwheel forms, as is the Celtic Cross. In Nazi Germany, the Nazi Party, the SA, and the Waffen SS all used sunwheel symbology at times, which has led neo-Nazis and other white supremacists today to adopt sunwheel images such as the one shown above. In Europe, this is often done to get around bans on other Nazi imagery. Because of the wide use of sunwheel imagery in many cultures around the world, one should not assume that a sunwheel image necessarily denotes racism or white supremacy, but should rather analyze the symbol in the context in which it appears.

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2002 Anti-Defamation League