Germany’s largest supermarket chain has been criticised for a Christmas television advert that appears to contain covert neo-Nazi symbolism.
The ad for the Christmas range at Edeka features two cars with number plates displaying codes commonly used by neo-Nazis to identify themselves to each other.
A Volvo shown in the 84-second clip has the number plate MU SS 420. “SS” is forbidden on German number plates because it is synonymous with the Schutzstaffel, the Nazis’ paramilitary “protection squadron”.
The number 420 is a common abbreviation – especially in far-right circles in the US – for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s birthday, 20 April.
Another car in the ad has the number plate SO LL 3849. The 84 is recognised as an abbreviation for the eighth and fourth letters of the alphabet – H and D – signifying the greeting “Heil Deutschland”. The numbers 3 and 9, together as number 39, are said to symbolise Christian identity and stand, by implication, for antisemitism.
German car owners are largely free to pick their own number and letter combinations for number plates at no extra cost. For several years authorities have noted a rise in the number of extremists using letter and number combinations to convey messages and signify their allegiances.
Sabine Bamberger-Stemmann, the director of Hamburg’s agency of civic education, a federal public authority that provides political education across Germany, has analysed the number plates and said she is convinced the Nazi symbolism must have been deliberately placed.