However, planting swastikas in forests wasn’t something that only happened in the Uckermark. As Jens-Uwe Schade already explained in 2000, this had become “a fad among National Socialist foresters” during the Nazi period.

For example, already in the early 1970s, US soldiers complained to the government of the state of Hesse after finding not only a huge swastika on the southern slope of a spruce forest near a place called Asterode, but also the year “1933” formed by larches. A similar symbol reportedly caused a major stir in Jesberg, in northern Hesse, when it was discovered in the 1980s. And, in 2000, a professor of folklore found a swastika of evergreen Douglas firs planted backwards in a deciduous forest in Wiesbaden. In fact, reports soon started emerging about tree swastikas all over Germany.

In Sept. 2006, the New York Times also reported on a complete forest near the remote village of Tash-Bashat, in Kyrgystan, shaped as a swastika. The origins of this swastika in reverse measuring some 180 meters (600 feet) across were also shrouded in legend and uncertainty. One villager claimed that an ethnic German forest supervisor, who had been exiled to the east but was a Nazi sympathizer, directed the planting of the forest in the 1940s. Another reported that the trees had been planted by a mysterious “professor” in the 1960s before he was taken away by the KGB. A local guide said the trees had been planted in the late 1930s as a sign of German-Russian friendship when Hitler and Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. Reporter C.J. Chivers also found legends the forest had been planted by German POWs pressed into forestry duty. He never did track down its true origins, but he wrote that, if it really really was planted by German prisoners, the “symmetry in the tree line … may be the Third Reich’s only practical joke.”