Eki-Naryn Forest Swastika in Tash-Bashat, Kyrgyzstan

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Eki-Naryn Forest Swastika.

On the hillside outside of the village of Tash-Bashat grows a forest obviously shaped by a human hand. Even though it's mirrored and some of the arms are incomplete, it's still an unmistakable symbol.

The origins of this forest swastika, which measures nearly 600 feet across, are unclear. As such, legends about its creation abound.

One theory is that German prisoners of war planted the trees while in captivity after World War II. However, there’s no evidence to support this, despite the fact that 1.3 million German soldiers went missing within the Soviet Union and were forced to do labor. Locals living in the area claim that only Kyrgyz planters worked there and that the forest was planted in the ‘40s or ‘50s.

Another theory is that the trees were planted in the 1940s by Kyrgyz workers under the instruction of a German Nazi sympathizer who had been exiled to Kyrgyzstan during the war. Others say that the trees were planted right after Stalin's death in 1953, and still more claim they were planted in the ‘30s to symbolize the Soviet-German friendship at the time.

There are even those claiming that the symbol is completely unrelated to World War II. This theory says the forest takes the shape of an ancient Hindu symbol used long before the Nazis came into power. But this proposal is clearly flawed, as the trees were planted sometime in the mid-20th century after the Nazis had already corrupted the symbol’s meaning within popular culture.

Whatever the background of the Eki-Naryn forest swastika is, it keeps reminding people of the horrors of the 20th century and probably will as long as it exists.