Officials in Alaska are investigating why Nazi-themed vanity licenses plates were allowed to be made after photos of the tags sparked outrage online, according to a report.
The Division of Motor Vehicles probe was prompted by shots of plates reading “3REICH” and “FUHRER” that surfaced on social media over the weekend, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
On Jan. 22, Matt Tunseth, a former newspaper editor from Alaska, spotted the “3REICH” plate at a stop sign, snapped a photo and posted it on Twitter with the caption, “I hate Alaska Nazis.”
Observers quickly lashed out at the DMV for approving the Hitler-boosting term, which references Germany’s Third Reich Nazi regime.
“Noooo. Seriously? They ban plates with curse words but not the Holocaust?” one critic wote.
Another person slammed, “Wow Shocked & Horrified Anti-Semitic DMV Issued That Plate.”
The backlash — which included direct complaints to the agency — triggered an investigation Monday by the Alaska Department of Administration, which runs the state DMV.
“Several Alaskans were concerned about messages conveyed,” Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka said in a statement. “The Alaska DMV has strict guidelines and protocols for issuing personalized license plates, which prohibit references to violence, drugs, law enforcement, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other government entities.”
Officials are looking into why and how the plates were approved and made, she said, adding one of them had previously been recalled by the department.
Meanwhile, an elected official defended using the terms — saying the words may have been lost in translation.
Jamie Allard, an Anchorage Assembly member, wrote on her Facebook page that “fuhrer” and “reich” are simply the German words for “leader” and “realm.”
“If you speak the language fluently, you would know that the English definition of the word,” she wrote. “The progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition.”
Her Facebook page has since been shut down and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy removed her from Alaska’s Human Rights Commission, according to the Washington Post.
In October, Eva Gardner, a Jewish attorney from Anchorage, first wrote an email to the Alaska DMV after spotting a Hummer with a plate reading “FUHRER,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.
“I live in Anchorage and am writing to complain about a personalized license plate I saw today. The text is ‘FUHRER,’ a word that is effectively synonymous with Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis who was responsible for millions of genocidal deaths, mostly of Jews,” Gardner wrote in the email. “You can confirm this through a simple web search of the word.”