The irony is that the swastika is more European in origin than most people realise. Archaeological finds have long demonstrated that the swastika is a very old symbol, but ancient examples are by no means limited to India. It was used by the Ancient Greeks, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons and some of the oldest examples have been found in Eastern Europe, from the Baltic to the Balkans .
If you want to see just how deeply rooted the swastika pattern is in Europe, a good place to start is Kiev where the National Museum of the History of Ukraine has an impressive range of exhibits.
Among the museum's most highly prized treasures is a small ivory figurine of a female bird. Made from the tusk of a mammoth, it was found in 1908 at the Palaeolithic settlement of Mezin near the Russian border.
On the torso of the bird is engraved an intricate meander pattern of joined up swastikas. It's the oldest identified swastika pattern in the world and has been radio carbon-dated to an astonishing 15,000 years ago. The bird was found with a number of phallic objects which supports the idea that the swastika pattern was used as a fertility symbol.
In 1965 a palaeontologist called Valentina Bibikova discovered that the swastika meander pattern on the bird is very similar to the naturally occurring pattern visible on a cross-section of ivory. Could it be that the Palaeolithic makers of the figurine were simply reflecting what they saw in nature - the huge mammoth they associated with well-being and fertility?
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 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…