Mongol Nazis?!
August 16, 2008 3:59 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine has just returned from Mongolia and was describing roving mad-max style gangs of men using Nazi symbols, with apparently limited understanding of their meaning in the west. Where can I read more about Mongolian Nazis? Is this really prevalent? How did they come to hear about Nazis in the first place? Do they get along with western neo-nazis (despite being ethnically Mongolian)?

It just sounds so surreal...
posted by phrontist to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know that they are Nazis or just that they use some of the same symbols?
posted by winston at 4:07 PM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: Dayar Mongol Movement: in Mongolia, the swastika-type of symbol is a traditional symbol known as the “has temdeg” with four arms that revolve around the pole star (altan hadaas or “Golden Nail”) like the four seasons.
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 4:13 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Could it be related to this?

The article says that swastikas are traditional symbols in Mongolia. So unrelated to Nazis in this case.

Note that in other countries swastikas are a symbol of Buddhism, again no connection to Nazis.
posted by needled at 4:16 PM on August 16, 2008

The swastika (as the nazis called the symbol) has ben used in both hinduism and buddhism for thousands of years. The mongolians nomads are wearing buddhist symbols. It has absolutely nothing to do with nazism or white power.

Here is one link to a page with various articles about the use of the symbol in Buddhism.

The same symbol, by the way, can be found in the art work of south-west Native Americans, like the Navajo. And it is also found in various cultures of pre-christian northern Europe, like the Celts, Finns, and early Germanic groups (which is where Hitler got it from).
posted by Flood at 4:17 PM on August 16, 2008

Buddhism is a major religion in Mongolia, and one of the symbols is the swastika - which is commonly misinterpreted by Westerners. So you may be basing it on your limited understanding of what some symbols mean in the East.

The roving mad-max style gangs I can't explain - but it may not be as sinister as you think based on the information you have. They may have been monks really keen on getting to a prayer session or something.
posted by gomichild at 4:18 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: The swastika (as the nazis called the symbol) has ben used in both hinduism and buddhism for thousands of years.

Yeah, I'm quite aware of the buddhist significance of the symbol, as was my friend. He was quite clear that these groups (which were widespread) were using it with the intent of being associated with Nazis... the red, white, and black color scheme, military style coats, etc. Some of these "nazis" got in to an argument about Hitler with German medical volunteers.
posted by phrontist at 4:38 PM on August 16, 2008

Swastikas symbols are always unsettling when they pop up, but context is everything. There's a cathedral in Cobh where swastikas are the border pattern around the entire floorplan of the very large interior. It was started in 1868, so there's the context for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:39 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, he also mentioned they were very anti-chinese (more radically than the general population).
posted by phrontist at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, and they sprayed graffiti with nazi symbols and some derivation of the world "aryan".
posted by phrontist at 4:42 PM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: This blog post suggests that they are part of an ultra-nationalist movement, which is hostile to Chinese immigrants and "Mongolians working with foreigners against national interest". Basically, it's sort of a counterpoint to the article linked by not sure and needled. As an outsider reading the two links, it's not clear to me whether this protest is currently manifesting itself as racism against non-Mongolians, or a reaction to the Chinese actively trying to take over their country (perhaps a combination of both).
posted by Deathalicious at 4:59 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, now we're getting somewhere... googling "dayar mongol" produces these surreal images.
posted by phrontist at 5:04 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: This is mind melting.

My friend was there as a volunteer EMT, mostly in rural areas. He says you'd see these people in "uniform" riding harley style motorcycles and generally banging things (and I guess people) up.
posted by phrontist at 5:08 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: (Please keep answers coming, espescially if you are mongolian, or have direct experience with these groups)
posted by phrontist at 5:12 PM on August 16, 2008

Best answer: As I understand from friends who have been to Mongolia, this is not a neo-Nazi thing and is really only seen in the city (instead of in the country, where most of the population lives). Mongolians take great pride in Genghis Khan as a conquerer who took over many lands and founded their nation. Seemingly without a sense of what the Nazis actually did, this phenomenon is more about young "tough guys" viewing Hilter as a great military conquerer, similar to Genghis Khan.
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 8:04 PM on August 16, 2008

The swastika (as the nazis called the symbol)

The Nazis called it the Hakenkreuz, or hooked cross. The word "swastika" comes from Sanskrit, and is the original, pre-Nazi name.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:59 PM on August 16, 2008

Not Mongolian, but just about all of Asia [edit: except Israel. . . ] has a general, shall we say, fondness for the Nazis of old. Sure, they slaughtered 4-6M Jews and other sundry peoples, but they were kinda anti-colonialist (in the revisionist sense) and supported mischief ranging from Turkey, the French and British colonies in the middle east, Iraq & Persia, British India, right through to Nationalist China, not to mention their Anti-Comintern bona-fides.

We in the west have been steeped in a general Anti-Axis, pro-"United Nations" retrospective view so completely that we forget that most of the world hasn't, and that the Germans for much of the first half of the 20th century were a dynamic alternative to the Franco-Anglo-American entente for nascent nation-states looking for role models, advisers, and materiel on how to get their national act together.
posted by yort at 10:57 PM on August 16, 2008

Not Mongolian, but just about all of Asia [edit: except Israel. . . ] has a general, shall we say, fondness for the Nazis of old.

Er, WTF? Please, if you're going to make wide, sweeping generalizations about a cultural predilection, give some citations other than a wikipedia link about a tactical alliance.
posted by suedehead at 12:10 AM on August 17, 2008

^ suedehand, fair enough. I'm thinking of my experiences in Japan, where what the general public knows of WW2 (outside of what happened in August 1945) could fill a thimble, and eg. the instance(s) of quite neo-Nazi restaurant(s) opening up in India.

As a rule, the educated Indians I've met (ie worked with) here in the Bay Area certainly have no love lost for the Brits, and Nazi Germany was attempting to build itself into a revisionist power to counterbalance the Colonial Powers it was competing against. Much the East is also not unwilling to buy into the "Eternal Jew" anti-semitic / Global Jewish Conspiracy libel (again as evidenced by the growth industry of such argument-books that I saw while living in Japan), arguably making the millions of Jews the Germans caused to be slaughtered less of a moral liability.

In the case of Mongolia, from a recent documentary I saw somewhere -- ah, it was that guy blogging his global trip -- there is apparently some neo-colonialism going on where national natural assets are being sold off by the politicians, something about profit-sharing breaking international treaty limits. So there's the international, anti-colonial powers angle.
posted by yort at 2:03 PM on August 17, 2008

The swastika is, as has been said, an important Hindu & Buddhist symbol.

Aryan people are a still extant ethnic group from northern India.

Driving around in India you see a whole lot of swastikas on cars, trucks, and buildings. They are ofter more curvy than the Nazi style, but also often blocky and square.

The other day I saw an all black BMW with no decoration, except for a sticker the length of the read window, with a red field, circular white inset in the middle, and a black swastika, exactly in the Nazi style.

Not Mongolia, and I wasn't able to spot the people who went with the car (as it was parked), but maybe a data point you will find interesting.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:59 PM on August 17, 2008

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