Nebr comments: In other countries like the USA, that weren't responsible for the Nazi crimes, Nazi symbols are not banned as well, but there they are talking about banning the southern states flag. No one would ban this flag in Germany. It is a different thing if your own ancestors were responsible for crimes.

Is it true that that most nations and states that ban flags and symbols tend to do so on a somewhat locally historic and/or ancestral basis?

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    I think that this is a bit too opinable, but that you are looking at it in the wrong way. Symbols are not good and evil (the swastika has been used before and after WWII without any Nazi meanings), the issue is the history/idea associated with those. And of course usually local, ancestral symbols are going to have more history/ideas -both good and evil, search about swastikas in India-) associated than foreign ones (which are kind of "blank").
    – SJuan76
    Oct 28, 2017 at 15:31
  • And, for counterexamples, the ISIS flag is forbidden in some Western countries, and specifically in Germany the PKK flag is forbidden, too.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 28, 2017 at 15:39
  • @SJuan76, This question is not advocating symbol censorship. My own opinions shouldn't be relevant, though I'm skeptical of the belief that a people's squeamishness about their nation's crimes should prevent the recurrence of similar ones, (particularly under remodeled banners and creeds).
    – agc
    Oct 28, 2017 at 21:04
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    I do not understand your question as advocating anything. My point is that IMO the premise (bannings or proposals of bannings being linked to local history) is better understood this way (what the symbol represents) than by some guilt/responsability theory.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 28, 2017 at 21:59
  • @SJuan76, Please clarify the difference between "what the symbol represents" and local history. (Without their historical usages, those banned flags might not be infamous enough to ban.)
    – agc
    Oct 31, 2017 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


First of all, part of the premise of your question is mistaken:

In other countries like the USA, that weren't responsible for the Nazi crimes, Nazi symbols are not banned as well, but there they are talking about banning the southern states flag.

(Emphasis added)

The First Amendment to the US Constitution gives very strong protection to freedom of speech. For the purposes of this discussion, displaying a flag or banner is a form of "speech". So the USA will not place a general ban on displaying a Confederate flag, swastika, or any other political symbol.

More generally, this comes down to a distinction between democratic and authoritarian forms of government.

A democratic government will typically allow all forms of political speech, unless there are specific reasons for them to be restricted. In some cases, such as the USA, there is little or no restriction. Other governments may be more restrictive, most often if speech is associated with violence. Examples include:

Any such restrictions will be specific to that country's circumstances; so usually the ban relates to a violent political movement which is or has been active in that country.

An authoritarian government is likely to disallow all forms of political speech, except those which are specifically permitted. In many countries, displaying any kind of political symbol without prior permission is likely to get you in serious trouble. Where the symbol originated from would be a secondary issue.

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    It might be worth putting more emphasis on the strength of the First Amendment. It is to my knowledge, unique, even in the western world, in the degree of protection it affords speech that might hurt someone's feelings. Even the theoretical 'exceptions' like obscenity, and incitement tend to be exceptionally difficult to deploy against someone. Oct 31, 2017 at 12:36
  • The term "ban" needn't be absolutely national. None of the confederate flag bans which @Nebr was alluding to were as sweeping as a Constitutional amendment, but rather were localized bans of state house flags, (i.e. voluntary regional civic displays), and organizational bans. Indeed, barring emergencies, the choice not to display something, (or not to say something), is also protected speech under the First Amendment, even if the virtual speaker is a state or organization.
    – agc
    Oct 31, 2017 at 17:52

The allies were instrumental in the ban of Nazi symbols and flags in Austria and Germany, see here (unfortunately only in German). The motivation, in my opinion, was to prevent Nazi-rule from re-emerging.

In the US, or the UK, on the other hand, there was no danger of Nazis becoming a major political power, thus there was no need felt to ban the symbols of the Nazis in the US or the UK.

In the case of the Nazi symbols, it was the victors of WW2 who banned the use of Nazi symbols.

  • This addresses the motivations for two such bans, but the question is not about specific motivations, it's about whether there are any more general trends or traits common to many nations.
    – agc
    Oct 31, 2017 at 17:35

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