Brenton Tarrant’s so-called manifesto, rambling white separatist propaganda he hoped would be shared in the media to spread his message of white superiority, had on its cover the Sonnenrad.
The ancient European symbol has modern historical significance as it was co-opted by the Nazi’s, but also because it’s used by white supremacists in the U.S., some seen at the bloody and deadly Unite the Right ‘rally’ in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017.
Indeed, a number of American white supremacists who had the Sonnenrad emblazoned on shields and flags at the deadly white power melee in Charlottesville are now convicted, murderers and terrorists.
Tarrant chose the Sonnerad as the cover for his rambling white separatist propaganda. He said he was inspired by right-wing extremists in America and stood in solidarity with them, neo-Nazi and mass murderer Dylann Roof among them.
The original ancient symbol may be used in other contexts not related to white superiority, the Anti-Defamation League cautions, but in this context, the purpose is clearly to promote white nationalism.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sonnenrad, Also Known as the Black Sun or Sunwheel, is an Ancient European Symbol, Variations of Which Are Seen in Nordic & Celt Imagery
The cover image on Brenton Tarrant’s ‘manifesto,’ is a variant of the black sun, or sunwheel, an ancient European symbol found in Norse and Celtic cultures. Elements of the centuries-old motif can be found in a Celtic cross, for example.
There are a number of ancient and modern versions of the Sonnenrad. According to the ADL, popular among white supremacists is an adaptation that features “two concentric circles with crooked rays emanating from the inner circle to the outer circle. Often white supremacists will put another hate symbol such as a swastika in the center of the inner circle.”
Tarrant’s Sonnenrad included an outer circle of triangles with platforms for his ideology chief among them ethnic autonomy and protection of heritage and culture.
Tarrant is an avowed white supremacist now held by police in New Zealand for the mass murder of at least 49 Muslims who were praying in their mosques.
2. Appropriated by the Nazis as Homage to Aryan Heritage, the Sonnenrad is Embraced by Neo-Nazis & White Supremacists in the U.S. & Europe
In Nazi Germany, it’s understood that among the first uses of the Sonnenrad was as a design feature in a castle re-designed by Heinrich Himmler. But the symbol would soon be employed widely by Nazis as the ADL noted it’s just one of a “number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized ‘Aryan/Norse’ heritage.”
“It has countless variations; the swastika and similar rounded variants are actually sonnenrad forms, as are certain versions of the Celtic Cross. In Nazi Germany, the Nazi Party, the SA and the SS all used sonnenrad symbology at times, which has led neo-Nazis and other modern white supremacists to adopt such images,” the ADL explains.
Today, it’s frequently seen used by neo-Nazis and white nationalists and in particular, was used by Vanguard America at Unite the Right.
3. So-Called ‘Free Speech’ Social Media Platforms Like US-Based Gab.ai, Feature Myriad Posts About the Sonnenrad
“It is time to lose the Swastika. It represented only part of our race anyway. Today EVERY white country is under threat worldwide. Our eternal (((enemy))) is still the same, but this time our entire race is at stake. Embrace the ancient Sonnerad. Embrace your people. Be proud. Be White. #RiseUp #14Words”
“Sometimes there’s a message you need to hear whether you like it or not. Suck it up, Buttercup. We are Aryans. We are conquerors. We are Old Europeans. We are survivors. We’re going to win. We ARE winning. Snowflakes melt in the light of the glorious Sonnenrad. #HailVictory”
“Know your people’s symbols for National White Pride Day. This is the “Black Sun” also know as the “Sonnerad” an ancient mythological symbol from when the gods still walked the earth. Never forget how ancient our people are. We were proud and white long before Christianity.”
On Gab.ai is a link to a Teespring store called ‘BasedThreads’ which features shirts with the Sonnerad and variations but alos ones like ‘Hit the Gas,” which is said to be a reference to the killing of Heather Heyer by Fields as he ran a car into protesters, or in general to mow down anti-Fascists and other groups whoa re counter white supremacy and fascism.
4. White Supremacists Taylor Wilson & James Fields, Now Imprisoned, Carried Sonnenrad Shields at Charlottesville. Also Jailed US Marine & White Nationalist Vasillios Pistolis Created & Carried Sonnenrad Flags
Tarrant said he was inspired by the deadly white separatist rally in Charlottesville.
Taylor Wilson and James Fields, as seen together in images taken at Charlottesville, used the Sonnerad for the shields they carried.
Wilson is the white supremacist convicted of federal terrorism charges for disabling an Amtrak train in Nebraska. He was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison in 2018. When he was arrested he had a loaded .38-caliber pistol and neo-Nazi documents.
Fields was convicted of killing Heather Heyer in Charlotteville when he drove a car into a crowd of non-violent counter-protesters.
Now-former disgraced U.S Marine Lance Corporal Vasillios George Pistolis, 20, was one of the violent “head-cracking” white power violent extremists at Charlottesville. He was thrown out fo the Marines and was court-martialed for his involvement and spent less than a month in the brig. But his case was kept as quiet as possible by the US military, though Pistolis bragged about his preparations for the rally and later, boasted about attacking a female counter-protester.
And Pistolis shared photos of the flags he created using the Nazi Sonnenrad, one an amalgam of the hate symbol and the Confederate flag.
Leading up to the rally, he and others discussed fighting counter-protestors and Pistolis said he’d be prepared to kill, “maybe even sodomize someone with a knife …if shit goes down.”
‘VasillistheGreek’ wrote, “Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself.”
5. The Term & Symbol Sonnenrad is Found in Death Metal Bands & Violent Video Propagand All Over YouTube
Dubbed, “A.Z.A.B. / SONNENRAD – Culture War (Physical Removal) / Doctrine of Hatred (Totenkopf Elite Militia),” the opening in the above video is a frightening recitation of the phrase “…they should bash your fucking skull …”
Comments include ones like this: “Crush all subhuman culture and eradicate our own traitors. It’s time to step up.” And it appears this ‘band’ has a track called ‘”Intrinsic Deathmass of Zionicidal Ruination.”
Myriad other videos can be found all over the internet related to Sonnenrad and violent white power movements many with manifestos that encourage violence.
Sonnenrad based in Tuscan, Italy calls itself “black metal with …themes of apocalypse, destruction, and misanthropy.”