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"To each his own" or Nazi slogans in advertising

In the run-up to Christmas 2016, an advertising film for the supermarket chain Edeka was also shown in the TV channels' commercials. The title of the clip: Give time. In it you saw adults who are constantly restless and forget about their children because of all their obligations. Above all, the license plates of the cars that can be seen in the commercial caused a stir. "MU-SS 420" is on one, "SO-LL 3849" on another. Was it really just allusions to the shoulds and musts that the adults experience in the commercial?

Right-wing extremist codes in the Christmas clip?

Experts soon agreed that there could well be allusions to National Socialism and right-wing extremist codes. For example in the license plate "MU-SS 420". The letters SS are banned in Germany because of their historical significance in license plates. Even in fictional ones. The 420, in turn, is an English-speaking abbreviation for Hitler's birthday on April 20, which is common in right-wing circles. The number 84 is on the second number plate, used in the right-hand circles for "Heil Deutschland". It is framed by the numbers 3 and 9. According to the experts, 39 could stand for the right-wing movement "Christian Identity". "These right-wing extremist codes are easy to research on the Internet," said extremism expert Sabine Bamberger-Stemmann in an interview with "manager magazin" at the time. "Advertising for right-wing radical products and ideas often uses the codes. Using them in a commercial outside of these circles is terrifying."

The advertising agency Jung von Matt, which created the clip, did not comment on the allegations at all. At least the supermarket chain Edeka apologized. Unfortunately, the spot was not carefully checked.

"To each his own"

In January 2009, the Tschibo and Esso groups advertised a new type of coffee in a joint poster campaign at more than 700 petrol stations across Germany. The posters read in large letters: "To each of his own". The advertising slogan played with the famous saying of the Roman philosopher Cato the Elder, "To each his own". But the saying also has a dark past in Germany: it was abused by the National Socialists. "To each his own" was written above the entrance gate of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The posters were therefore immediately criticized. In order to limit the damage to the image, the two companies stopped advertising. A Tschibo spokeswoman said that the company had never intended to "hurt feelings". The slogan was chosen unhappily, of course, and the posters should be taken down again as soon as possible. Salomon Korn, then Vice President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, welcomed the announced removal of the posters. They represented "unsurpassable tastelessness" or were at least a testimony to "total ignorance of history". A spokesman for the Esso group emphasized that the advertising agency commissioned with the poster campaign had probably not had the historical scope of the quote in mind.

From "each his own" became "what you want"

Tschibo and Esso weren't the first to advertise the phrase misused by the Nazis. As early as 1998, Nokia had advertised interchangeable cell phone housings with "Each his own". After the American Jewish Committee strongly protested the use of the quote, the posters were quickly pasted over with the title of a Shakespearean comedy: "What you want".

Hitler: "Nimble as greyhounds, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel"

It was supposed to be just for fun. Butchers from the Edeka branch in Kleinmachnow near Berlin had discovered and ordered T-shirts with the inscription "Hard as steel, tough as leather. These are the German meat cutters" on the Internet in 2020. But the supposed fun was not well received. Because the saying refers to a sentence by Adolf Hitler. In 1935 the "F├╝hrer" demanded that German youth be "nimble as greyhounds, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel". The employees in Kleinmachnow wore the T-shirts for two days until a customer informed the management of the company. Indeed, the staff were promptly instructed to take off their T-shirts. As a local newspaper reported, the butchers could not fully understand the excitement, but they were forced to comply and went back to their old work clothes.

Heino also used the Hitler quote

A few years earlier, in the summer of 2013, Heino had already used the Hitler quote in an interview with the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" to promote his new CD and to make it clear that his advanced age was not a problem for him. I am "tough as Kruppstahl, tough as leather and nimble as a greyhound", the folk musician had confidently proclaimed at the time. Incidentally, the outrage was limited. Heino was probably less surprised at the use of a quote from Hitler.