In recent days, the German police and public prosecutor’s offices have opened more than 140 investigations into the „symbolic use” of the letter Z. The accusation is that is shows support for the Russian attack on Ukraine. As the Russian military in Ukraine marks various vehicles and armored vehicles with the letter Z, the use of this symbol is punishable, law enforcement officials claim.
Recently, 19 prosecutions have been launched in Saxony-Anhalt in East Germany, 17 in Hamburg and 22 in North Rhine-Westphalia for alleged illegal use of the letter Z. The municipality of Herford is leading the way in the persecution of Z. There, the use of Z on license plates was immediately banned. „Anyone who uses the Z symbol to support the Russian offensive and Russian President Putin will face criminal prosecution in Lower Saxony,” said Social Democrat Interior Minister Boris Pistorius. The Bavarian Justice Minister (CSU) agreed wholeheartedly: „We will not tolerate that crimes contrary to international law are publicly condoned,” he told the DPA news agency.
The charge is based on Article 140 of the German Criminal Code, which states that anyone who rewards unlawful acts or „publicly approves of them in a way that endangers public peace” is „liable to a term of imprisonment of up to three years or a fine.”
The legal basis of the action against Z is at least questionable, even for a layman.
So far, there is no legislation that precisely defines Russian aggression as a crime in Germany. As for the meaning of the Z on Russian vehicles, there is only speculation — no one here really knows what it means.
As for the ban, the Z symbol is in interesting company. German license plates forbid the use of KZ (concentration camp), SS, SA, AH (Adolf Hitler) and a number of other less obvious letter combinations.
If this ban is extended to Z in the future, the town of Zwickau in Saxony, whose license plates begin with Z, will be in big trouble, but vigilant law enforcement will surely have an idea on how to avoid the problem.
For the sake of interest, let us also mention which symbols
are NOT covered by the ban: the red star, the sickle and hammer, the images of Lenin and Stalin, among others, which are displayed by the dozens on flags, banners and T-shirts at the most violent demonstrations of radical left-wing Antifa.
When an insignificant neo-leftist group in Gelsenkirchen erected a statue of Lenin in a central square, the local municipality protested on “aesthetic grounds” but has so far refrained from prosecution.