A group of Jewish teenagers in Massachusetts helped saved the life of a man with a swastika tattoo.
The four teens study at an orthodox Jewish high school in Brighton. They were on a walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir on the night of May 17 when they saw a man floating in the water, NBC10 reported.
Boston College police officer Carl Mascioli was on patrol when the teens ran over to him to alert him about the person. Mascioli saw a half-submerged person, not moving, and pulled him out.
“While I was pulling him out of the water, I also observed that he had a swastika on his hand,” Mascioli told NBC10.
The teens didn’t think much of the swastika.
“I kind of let the gentlemen know sometimes some deeds have a funny way of turning around,” Mascioli told NBC10. “Their good deed had a little bit of a twist to it.”
The teens were not permitted to speak with NBC10, but they left a message with the police officer for the man they helped save.
“They wanted just to let him know that it was four young Jewish boys that helped save his life,” Mascioli told NBC10. “A good deed is a good deed and that’s part of life. We should be helping everybody out.”
Police say the man may not have survived if the police officer wasn’t alerted to his presence, NBC10 reported. It is not clear why he was in the water.
Although many associate the swastika with the National Socialist (Nazi) Party of Germany, the symbol has a much longer history with different associations before Hitler, Word War II, and the Holocaust.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, the older definition of a swastika is “a symbol or ornament in the form of a Greek cross with the ends of the arms extended at right angles all in the same rotary direction.”
Swastika came from the word svastika, which is a word in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. The Sanskrit term means “well-being,” according to Merriam-Webster. The etymology also cites that it was regarded as a symbol of good luck.
A BBC report says that before the symbol obtained its modern associations with Hitler, it had “been used as a symbol of good fortune in almost every culture in the world.” The article shows images of the swastika in use as a religious symbol in Asia, as well as its secular use as a symbol of luck in product design in the United States.
The article describes how German scholars studying Indian texts opened up the symbol to German audiences. It was later appropriated by the German Nazi movement.
The article also points to ancient European usages of the swastika by Ancient Greeks, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons. The article shows pictures of ancient European artifacts that contain swastika motifs.
It is not clear if the tattoo of the rescued man was meant to be a symbol of this ancient history or of the modern interpretation given it due to the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazi Party. Further information about the rescued man has yet to be released.