Austria Renews Ban on Coded Nazi References on License Plates

While '88' is a veiled reference to 'Heil Hitler,' the letters SS are less inconspicuous – now both join over 30 combinations deemed illegal for cars to don.

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A neo-Nazi pictured at a rally in October 2009.
A neo-Nazi pictured at a rally in October 2009.Credit: Reuters

Austria has outlawed Thursday some 30 different combinations of numbers and letters which they claim allude to the Nazi regime and ideology.

According to the new legislation, the combinations will be barred from personalized license plates, and according to authorities the list will likely grow over time, The Guardian reported.

According to the report, the letter combination 'SS' is now banned, as well as '1919' – which is code for 'SS,' as 'S' is the 19th letter of the alphabet. Another common example of such symbolic references to Nazism now outlawed is '88' - H is the eighth letter of the alphabet and thus 88 stands for Heil Hitler.

By the same token, 18 – or 'AH' (Adolf Hitler) - is now also illegal. The date of Hitler’s birthday, April 20, which can be codified as 420, also made the list.

According to the report, the combinations join an old list which included NSDAP (which stands for the National Socialist German Workers' Party), HJ (Hitlerjugend or Hitler Youth) and NS (national socialism) that were deemed illegal only to be legalized in 1989.

An Austrian license plate.Credit: Dreamstime

According to a statement quoted by the report and released by Austrian Transport Minister Alois Stöger: “When it comes to this issue, nothing is too small Therefore, it has been my personal concern that we find a way to ban the relevant license plates codes.”

In February, Austria’s transport minister announced he wanted to amend the country’s Motor Vehicle Act to ban license plates with coded Nazi messages, UPI reported at the time. The Guardian notes that Austria has some of the toughest laws in place against the glorification of Nazi symbols. The legislation also saw numbers and letters said to be associated with the Islamic State group put on the blacklist.

A spokesperson for the Mauthausen Committee (MKÖ), which put the list together and works with local Holocaust survivors, said that “the [neo-Nazi] scene has developed these codes and legislators have to pay attention to current trends,” they said, vowing to update the list over time.

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