For decades, in the German state of Brandenburg, a formation of larch trees grew unnoticed in the shape of a swastika.
A hapless intern for a landscaping company first found the deciduous Nazi symbol in 1992 while taking aerial photographs to document irrigation lines.
After that discovery, other forest swastikas were found in Germany and beyond.
Who planted them?
One elderly resident said he had helped plant the trees as a child for the Nazi forestry service. Others said the swastika grew from seedlings planted to show loyalty after a villager was taken by the Gestapo for listening to banned BBC news broadcasts.
The 200-foot by 200-foot design in Brandenburg was surrounded by pine trees and was only visible when the larches turned yellow and orange during the fall.
A local forester measured the stand of 140 larches and determined they had been planted in the late 1930s, during the height of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship, and had survived without discovery through Communist rule of East Germany and the fall of the Berlin wall in West Germany.
A German newspaper reported the copse was planted as a thank you gift for a street provided by the Reich Labor Service.
Whatever the reason for its origin, getting rid of the swastika took two tries, one in 1995 and another in 2000. Chainsaws were used to disrupt the formation.
But it wasn’t the first time a forest of evil signs had been discovered.
In the 1970s, American soldiers complained about a giant swastika growing in a spruce forest in the state of Hesse.
A similar sighting was made in the northern part of Hesse in the 1980s. In 2000, a professor of folklore reported a backward swastika of Douglas firs in a forest in Wiesbaden.
In Kyrgyzstan in 2006, another backward swastika was found in a forest near a remote village. Rumors also swirled around this formation, including stories it was planted by German prisoners of war forced into forestry labor and that it was planted in the 1930s as a tribute to the nonaggression pact signed by Hitler and Josef Stalin.