Germany’s largest supermarket has been forced to deny that its Christmas ad contains hidden pro-Nazi messages.
Edeka’s advert features two cars with number plates that are being criticised as common codes 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, on the other hand, is a common abbreviation – especially in far-right circles in the U.S. – because it represents Hitler’s birthday – April 20.
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 Guardian reports.
In the same way, 39 is C and I – which is said to symbolise Christian Identity and stand for antisemitism.
Sabine Bamberger-Stemmann, the director of Hamburg’s agency of civic education, has analysed the number plates and said she is convinced the Nazi symbolism was deliberately placed, adding that it was ‘disarming and implausible’ that the codes were not put there on purpose.
She told Manager Magazin:
The 420 comes from the Anglo-Saxon area, but in rightwing circles here [in Germany] it’s also the established abbreviation for Hitler’s birthday.
The ‘84’ clearly stands for Heil Deutschland. The statement being made is very clear.
But Edeka has said the number plates were made up and the symbolism was not deliberate.
The company said the MU SS of the first number plate was meant to spell out the word muss (must) – one of the key messages in the ad. The message is meant to relay that, while a stressed mother is rushing around ahead of Christmas, trying to complete the things she ‘must’ do, shopping at Edeka could save customers time, allowing them to be with their family.
The supermarket chain said in a statement:
The number plate with ‘MU SS’ is a fantasy number plate, based on the title song in our spot. We regret the fact that a wrong impression is created here. This was in no way our intention.
Either Germany’s largest supermarket is keeping a very worrying secret, or we’re seeing things.
My bet is on the latter…