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Reminiscent of Nazi era? German police forced to explain controversial logo in new armored cars

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Logos on the seats in new armored vehicles acquired by the police Special Forces unit in the German state of Saxony have provoked a wave of indignation on social media, as they appear to be reminiscent of a Nazi emblem.

The Saxony Special Forces (SEK), a unit particularly tasked with conducting anti-terrorist operations in the region, received its first new armored vehicles, called “Survivor R,” on Friday. The 17-ton cars have enough armor to withstand a machine-gun assault and even an explosion and can carry up to 10 officers.

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However, it is not the vehicle’s combat characteristics that have attracted public attention. The armored cars sparked widespread criticism on social media due to the fact that the backs of its seats were adorned with a logo that was strikingly similar to what looked like a Nazi emblem.

“What a beautiful logo!” one person wrote sarcastically in a Twitter post featuring a photo of the unfortunate design. He then added that it looks “almost like [the one] from the older [Nazi] times” and “lacks only an eagle and a swastika.”

People also noticed the Gothic script used in the decoration of the seat backs. “I ask myself if such designations and script should have really been used,” another person said on Twitter, emphasizing that instead of “Special Forces” a simple “Saxony police” in some more up-to-date style would be much less controversial. 

The logo indeed looks like a coat of arms put inside an oak wreath with what resembles eagle wings on each side. The fact that it looked nothing like the one of the Free State of Saxony also did not escape the public attention. The logos in Survivor R “feature a coat of arms with a crown and lions and is clearly reminiscent of the Kingdom of Saxony,” another person said in a Tweet.

The scale of the controversy even prompted a local MP from the Green Party to file an official request with the police, demanding an explanation concerning the approval of the controversial design.

The public outrage was so massive that it initially prompted Saxony’s Interior Ministry to de facto shift the blame for the scandal on the manufacturer – the German company Rheinmetal. “The vehicle was delivered to us with this logo on the seat backs by the supplier,” the statement says, adding that the “script chosen by the supplier” also “does not correspond” with official list of the police emblems, logos and scripts.

However, this explanation did not soothe the public anger as the police themselves earlier said that the vehicles were in line with their demands. In an official video of police receiving the cars, which was published on YouTube on Saturday, a representative of the regional police department, Sven Mewes, can be seen saying that “in general, the vehicle exactly fits our expectations.”

The scandal eventually made the ministry to issue an official statement in an attempt to address public concerns. “We categorically deny all accusations concerning the fact that the logo was allegedly purported to show any links to National Socialism [Nazism],” the statement says, adding that the script used in the decoration also was “by no means intended to trigger any such associations.”

It further explained that the logo used in the decoration of the seats is actually the official logo of the SEK used since 1991. At the same time, it said that the logo used in the cars does not correspond with the official list of the police emblems and “is used for internal purposes only.” As for the coat of arms, the ministry also said that it is linked to the SEK as the crown symbolizes the unit’s call sign while the lions are in fact that “lions of the city of Leipzig,” where the unit’s headquarters is located.

The ministry also said that it would take public concerns into consideration and “critically assess” the usage of this logo. It, however, said nothing about any changes in the controversial design.

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In the meantime, this explanation also seems to have further fueled the controversy, as people started to wonder why a police unit has had such a logo for over two decades at all and no one has got concerned about it until now.

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