When is a German eagle a Nazi eagle?

cop_german_eagle_tattoo
Officer Ian Lichterman is a 17-year veteran of the Philadelphia police department who also served overseas in the military: His apparent Nazi-style tattoo has drawn criticism.

The eagle has been part of the coats of arms of the rulers and governments of Germany since the days of the Holy Roman Empire.

Many of the eagles - some double headed, other single headed - are similar, but none resemble the eagles adopted by the Nazi Party and the Third Reich in the years preceding World War II.

A controversy has erupted in Philadelphia over a tattoo worn by a police officer that resembles the eagle used in the Nazi emblem, known as the parteiadler.

Parteiadler

The parteiadler and the national emblem, or reichsadler, adopted by the Nazis in 1935, two years after they took power, are different in that they are looking in different directions.

Reichsadler 1935-1945

Photos of the police officer's tattoo, which has its head facing the same way as the parteiadler, do not show whether the eagle is perched on a swastika. It is on his left arm, under the word "Fatherland" in gothic text.

Here are eagles from German coats of arms from before the Nazis and after.

1888-1918

1919-1927

1928-1935 and 1949-Present (It is now called the bundesadler.)

Coat of arms of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1950

 This is a photograph of the eagle in the officer's tattoo: