Black Sun (symbol)

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The "Black Sun" symbol as seen in Wewelsburg Castle's North Tower.

The Black Sun (German: Schwarze Sonne) is a Nazi symbol, a type of sun wheel (German: Sonnenrad)[1][2] employed in a post-Nazi Germany context by neo-Nazis and some occult subcultures, such as Satanism.

The symbol first occurred during Nazi Germany as a design element in a castle at Wewelsburg remodeled and expanded by Heinrich Himmler which he intended to be a center for the SS. The symbol's design consists of twelve radial sig runes, similar to the symbols employed by the SS in their logo. Whether the symbol had a name or held any particular significance among the SS remains unknown. Its association with the occult concept of the "black sun", and therefore also its name, developed from the influence of a 1991 German novel Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo (The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo) by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud.[3][4]

Wewelsburg mosaic[edit]

The floor of the former SS Generals' Hall (German: Obergruppenführersaal) on the first floor of the North Tower of Wewelsburg Castle showing the dark green mosaic at the center of the hall

In 1933, Heinrich Himmler acquired Wewelsburg, a castle near Paderborn, Germany. Himmler intended to make the structure into a center for the SS, and between 1936 and 1942, Himmler ordered the building expanded and rebuilt for ceremonial purposes.[5]

Sig runes used as the logo of the SS

As a product of Himmler's remodeling, twelve dark-green radially overlaid sig runes, such as those employed in the logo of the SS, appear on the white marble floor of the structure's north tower, the Obergruppenführersaal or "General's Hall". The intended significance of the image remains unknown, but the artist may have found inspiration from decorative Merovingian disks (Zierscheibe). According to the historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke:

[I]t has been suggested that this twelve-spoke sun wheel derives from decorative disks from the Merovingians of the early medieval period and are supposed to represent the visible sun or its passage through the months of the year. These disks were discussed in scholarly publications during the Third Reich and may well have served the Wewelsburg designers as a model.[3]

The name "Black Sun" came into wider use after the publication of a 1991 occult thriller novel Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo ('The Black Sun of Tashi Lhunpo') by the pseudonymous author Russell McCloud. The book links the Wewelsburg mosaic with the neo-Nazi concept of the "Black Sun", invented by former SS officer Wilhelm Landig as a substitute for the Nazi swastika and a symbol for a mystic energy source that was supposed to renew the Aryan race.[3][6][7]


The Black Sun symbol is widely associated with neo-fascism and neo-Nazism.[8] It is utilized by far-right neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The symbol often appears on extremist flags, t-shirts, posters, websites and in extremist publications associated with such groups. Modern far-right groups often refer to the symbol as the sun wheel or Sonnenrad.[5][9][10]

A number of far-right groups and individuals have utilised the symbol in their propaganda, including the Christchurch mosque shooter, Australian neo-Nazi group Antipodean Resistance, and Ukrainian far-right National Guard regiment Azov Battalion.[11] The symbol was displayed by members of several extremist groups involved in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.[12]


Along with other symbols from the Nazi era such as the Wolfsangel, the Sig rune, and the Totenkopf, the black sun is employed by some adherents of Satanism.[13] The scholar Chris Mathews states that "Of the numerous permutations of the Wolfsangle [sic], Satanists adopt the form used by the SS and numerous fascist organizations. Likewise, the Totenkopf used in the nineteenth century by the Prussian military was markedly more cartoonish than the SS's Death Head version, which is the version Church of Satan members use. The Black Sun motif is even less ambiguous. Though based on medieval German symbols, the Wewelsburg mosaic is a unique design commissioned specifically for Himmler, and its primary contemporary association is Nazi occultism, for which Nazi Satanic groups and esoteric neo-Nazis adopt it."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grumke, Thomas; Wagner, Bernd (2002). Handbuch Rechtsradikalismus: Personen — Organisationen — Netzwerke vom Neonazismus bis in die Mitte der Gesellschaft (in German). Opladen: Leske + Budrich. p. 207. ISBN 978-3-81-003399-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-81-473124-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. ^ a b c Goodrick-Clarke (2002), p. 148.
  4. ^ Strube, Julian (2015). "Nazism and the Occult". In Partridge, Christopher (ed.). The Occult World. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. p. 339. ISBN 978-0-41-569596-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ a b Goodrick-Clarke (2002), pp. 148–150.
  6. ^ Strube, Julian (2015). "Nazism and the Occult". In Partridge, Christopher (ed.). The Occult World. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. p. 339. ISBN 978-0-41-569596-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  7. ^ Goodrick-Clarke (2002), p. 3.
  8. ^ Luhn, Alec (30 August 2014). "Preparing for War With Ukraine's Fascist Defenders of Freedom". Foreign Policy.
  9. ^ Grumke & Wagner (2002), p. 219.
  10. ^ Neo Nazi groups:
  11. ^ Neo-Nazi groups:
  12. ^ Unite the Right rally:
  13. ^ a b Mathews, Chris (2009). Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-313-36639-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]