U.S. Navy to fix swastika-shaped barracks in Calif

LOS ANGELES Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:26am IST

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy barracks in Southern California that resemble a swastika from the air is to get a $600,000 make-over after spawning myriad conspiracy theories and concerns by Jewish groups.

On the ground, the four L-shaped buildings are simply part of the U.S. amphibious base at Coronado island in San Diego.

But the growing popularity of satellite images from Google Earth alerted people to the fact that they are shaped like a swastika when seen from above.

"The Navy came to realize that this is a symbol that thousands of people died to defeat and it was inappropriate to have that shape on a military base," Morris Casuto, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which campaigned for modifications to the building, said on Wednesday.

After nine months of talks with the ADL, Casuto said the the Navy told him this week it would spend $600,000 on landscaping and architectural changes that would obscure the swastika shape from the air.

The Navy has said the buildings, which serves barracks for the Seabees, were constructed in the late 1960s and were not intended to resemble the Nazi symbol. But that has done nothing to silence theories circling the Internet in the past two years.

One suggests they were built by German prisoners of war who slipped the layout past the Navy. Another hypothesis suggests the shape was intended to help the buildings survive bombing formations used by the Japanese navy.

Casuto said talks with the Navy were amicable and that no lawsuits were ever threatened.

"We didn't enter this minor controversy presuming there was any evil intent on the part of anyone. We understood this was not the number one priority of a nation at war. The Navy decided on their own it was the right thing to do," Casuto said.

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