As we have studied today, the swastika is a very old symbol the Nazis used as an Arian and anti-semitic emblem. Before the Nazis started using this symbol, swastikas had been used in many places as a symbol of health and good luck, as well as to represent the idea of the eternal return or continuous flow. The oldest known swastikas belong to Prehistory and the Bronze Age. Some Germanic tribes wore swastika amulets to keep bad spirits away.
Before the Nazis, different nationalist associations in Germany used swastikas, such as the Teutonic Order and Thule Society and it was also the symbol chosen by the DAP (German Workers´Party), where Hitler inflitrated as an informant for the army. When the Nazis designed the NSDAP flag, they included the swastika on it. They chose the red colour (meaning the social part of their movement), the white (which is related to their nationalism) and the swastika, which symbolized the struggle of the Arian man. Hitler preferred the left-facing swastika, which has been related to decadence and death, but he identified it with a whirlwind and a solar symbol.
The German Socialist Party (SPD) created a paramilitary group called the Iron Front to oppose the Nazis and they also designed a symbol to easily cover or cross out the Nazi swastikas. Their emblem consisted of three arrows pointing south-west and their meaning was union, activity and discipline.
Emblem of the Iron Front
Anti-NSDAP rally of the Iron Front in Berlin 1932
The swastika is forbidden in Germany at present. The German government tried to extend the prohibition to all the European Union in 2005, but this proposition was rejected by some EU members. In Asia swastikas are very common, because they are related to different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Here you have an example of swastika on a Korean temple: