Walmart Apologizes For Selling Nazi Tshirts

Recent updates to this story.
Backstory.

After a blogger found Walmart sold tshirts with Nazi skulls on them, a Walmart PR rep sent us a note.

    “Meghann:

    Good morning. My name is Marshall Manson. I work for Edelman doing online public affairs for Wal-Mart. I noticed your post about the t-shirts that Wal-Mart is selling. I wanted to make sure you saw the company’s statement about this and knew that Wal-Mart is now removing the t-shirts from its stores. Obviously, with a company as big as Wal-Mart, that may take a day or two.

    The statement is just below. If you would like to discuss anything, feel free to respond to this e-mail.

    Statement from Wal-Mart:

    We were not aware of the origins of the image until this morning when we learned about it through the blog Bent Corner.

    We are deeply sorry that this happened, and we are in the process of pulling all of these t-shirts from our stores.

    Respect for the individual is a core value of our company and we would never have placed this t-shirt on our shelves had we known the origin and significance of this emblem.

    We are reviewing our product review process in an effort to ensure this never happens again.

    Sincerely,

    Marshall Manson
    Edelman”

Someone needs to go and buy one of these shirts, quick. Just one question, is Mike Krempasky a medium or a large? — BEN POPKEN

Related:
Walmart’s Nazi Past
Who Designed Walmart’s Nazi T-shirt?
Walmart Nazi Shirts Available Online (Sorta)
Walmart’s Nazi Tshirt, Compare and Contrast
Walmart Sells Nazi Skull Tshirt

Comments

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  1. Just one question, is Mike Krempasky a medium or a large?

    Oh, man. That’s low. But funny.

  2. drsmith says:

    Is this responsible consumerism?

    The reason I say that is because a phone call to WalMart or Edelman would have probably yielded the same result without dragging WalMart through yet another round of negative publicity. I’m no fan of WalMart myself, but it does seem that these three consecutive posts are more about the publicity than what was good for the consumer.

    That said, I would also say that people are just too sensitive to making a connection between events or ideas. I doubt the designer intended to promote an obscure sub-grouping of the Nazis.

  3. Anonymously says:

    I don’t doubt it at all. Someone copied that skull from the source material.

  4. humphrmi says:

    drsmith: You doubt that the designer intended to promote an obscure sub-grouping of the Nazis.

    Well unless the designer drew the artwork himself and was extrodinarily unlucky in thinking up the exact same design as the SS did sixty years ago, then that leaves only two other choices: the designer googled for an image and stole it, or the designer found or remembered the image from Nazi paraphernalia. I’m sorry, that skull-and-bones image is way too different from normal scull-and-crossbones images, and way too similar to the Nazi image. The bones are layed out in a unique way. It’s the exact same layout on both images.

    The designer was either an idea thief or intended to propogate Nazi imagery. Either way, it needs to be addressed.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Oh really? Then explain this book cover from 2001 (as seen on Amazon.com).

  6. Ben Popken says:

    (my comment above was addressed to Greg)

  7. Anonymously says:

    I’m sorry, I was being vague. I think the artist intended to copy the Nazi image. I was referring to Dr. Smith’s post.

  8. adamondi says:

    I think Wal-Mart responded very well to this issue. They found out about the issue, they are removing the shirts, and they have their PR firm running around trying to set everyone straight on their response. This is how this sort of frak-up is supposed to be handled.

    But really, this sort of thing must happen with some frequency. I certainly had absolutely no idea that the skull and bones image on that T-shirt was a Nazi symbol. I am sure that whoever approved that design, and whoever bought the shirts for Wal-Mart had no idea either.

    I bet this sort of thing gets even more frequent as time goes on and idiots just grab the first thing they find on Google when trying to produce some new hipster T-shirt design.

  9. I’d like to know the name off the company that designed the shirts.

  10. Lesley says:

    How much will you pay me to visit my local Wal-Mart in search of this shirt? Sure, I once said “You can’t pay me to go in Wal-Mart,” but I’d do it for The Consumerist. Yes, yes, I would.

  11. AcilletaM says:

    I’d be interested in who made the shirts too. I don’t see this being a Wal-Mart issue so much. They did what was expected when they found out. If they knowingly sold these designs, that would be different.

  12. Gari N. Corp says:

    I think we can all agree that they’re less likely to be Nazi Fifth Columnists than closet Sky Captain fans or lazy tinkers. I was in Express the other day looking for jeans, and their normally excellent range of denim was hidden by a wall of generic hipster t-shirts featuring random arrangements of skulls and Lower East Side street names.

    I think Walmart might have been looking to the Nazis for inspiration, but only insofar as they were emulating Field Marshal Rommel’s trademark outflanking manoeuvres in the aftermath of D-Day, with Target taking the role of Eisenhower, and generic hipster T-shirt market share taking the role of France.

  13. How about a kudos for Wal-Mart’s lightning-fast apology and commitment to fix the problem rather than a smug, smart ass joke?

  14. Ben Popken says:

    Lesley: If anyone buys this shirt and sends it to us, we will pay them back for the cost of the shirt and shipping, and send them a free Mystery Shopper shirt.

  15. Kornkob says:

    ” Ben Popken says: Oh really? Then explain this book cover from 2001 (as seen on Amazon.com).”

    Er…it’s a book about a WW2 era army unit which really has little to do with how some ‘artist’ cooked ended up putting that image on a tshirt.

    Odds are he saw that image 3rd or 4th hand and ripped it for his ‘deadline’ not having any idea where the ‘original’ work came from. In fact, I would not be surrpised if that image was in a ‘royalty free’ cd collections.

  16. aka Cat says:

    Wal-Mart sucks, but I hardly expect them to ‘fact check’ the images on everything they sell.

    Kudos to them for reacting quickly when they found out about it.

  17. dwarf74 says:

    Wow, what’s with all the posts in defense of Wal-Mart?

    “Oh noes, the poor multinational corporation is being picked on again for a simple mistake! Woe is us!”

    Folks, nobody is saying that there’s a secret Walmart/Nazi alliance. It’s mildly notable, entertaining, and an opportunity to point and laugh. Seriously – screw ‘em.

  18. Wal-Mart sucks, but I hardly expect them to ‘fact check’ the images on everything they sell.

    Why not? They certainly take every supplier to task over minutiae like raw materials and shipping costs. Why not image licensing and sourcing?

    Food for thought, although I agree with the premise of your statement.

  19. Ben Popken says:

    Kornkob: Sorry, I misunderstood what Greg was saying.

  20. Triteon says:

    Wal-Mart sucks, but I hardly expect them to ‘fact check’ the images on everything they sell.
    Yet they feel free to censor every CD and magazine sold in their stores.
    Kudos to them for reacting quickly when they found out about it.
    Agreed.

  21. CrocodileDundee says:

    To describe the 3rd SS division Totenkopf as an ‘obscure WWII military unit’ is kind of missing the point. Before 1938, two branches of the SS were the SS SS-Verfuegungstruppe and the SS-Totenkopf Verbaende. Totenkopf Verbaende was an organization specifically designated to guard the concentration camps. It was transferred to the Waffen SS and formed into the SS-Totenkopf division by a Hitler order (where it became notorious for its commission of war crimes). Both the SS and the Waffen SS were designed as tools of the Nazi party.

    Given the especially disgusting nature and origins of the unit, it is entirely possible that it holds some special significance for some people. I would venture that it is more than mere coincidence that such an image was selected.

  22. AcilletaM says:

    Wal-Mart also sold the book antisemtic book “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” as a world history book without mentioning that it is truly propoganda and false.

    So who knows, maybe they did know what they were selling.

  23. Gari N. Corp says:

    Did they really sell the “Protocols….”? I did not know that. That said I spoke to the US publisher of Mein Kampf and he said that by owning the rights they were at least able to include a preface describing the contents as utter nonsense. Still, and assuming the book’s out of copyright, that’s a really weird thing to do.

  24. Ben Popken says:

    Gari, yeah, see the Sep 22 2004 entry on this Harper’s timeline.

  25. mcnasby says:

    @adamondi: I’m going to have to agree with you here. Honestly, how many Jews/Culture sensitive people do you think Wal-Mart has working for them in Bentonville, Arkansas?
    —–

    ^^^ That was my original comment until I googled Jews and Bentonville, Arkansas and came up with this result. Now I’m disappointed!

  26. skrike says:

    Ben Popken: My wife ran and got me 2 of these today. I might have a large with your name on it, shoot me an email at skrike (at) gmail dot com

  27. marge says:

    this morning i also got an e-mail from wal-mart’s pr department with an apology. i posted a third party link to the story in a little livejournal community. i can’t tell whether i should be amused beyond belief or creeped out.

  28. bones says:

    Went to my local Wal Mart in Charleston, SC. The shirts are still for sale and the “management knows nothing” about the contraversy. So much for the Wal-mart letter above.

  29. “Meghann, sorry, one more thing. In the future, WalMart promises to stick to what they know best: plastic Rubbermaid containers for $4.88 and fake blogs.

    Thanks,

    Marshall”


    And ‘kudos’ is for something excellent, not for doing something you’re supposed to.

  30. ebilflindas says:

    As of today, the shirt is for sale, here in San Diego. Sure, there might not be too many people, shopping at the last US Walmart before the Border, who would recognize the Totenkopf skull; but it shows that Walmart isn’t in too much of a hurry to clear its shelves of the item.

  31. aycaray says:

    Cajun,
    Though the teeshirt is not on sale in my local Mexican Walmart the “since 1978″ might indicate its made by Expertees, Inc. though this particular disgusting skull is not one of their 9 skull design teeshirts.

    Expertees, Inc.
    1924 W. 10th Avenue
    Junction City, OR 97448
    http://www.expertees.com
    Phone: 541-998-2167
    Fax: 541-998-2320
    Toll Free: 1-877-849-3043

  32. expertees says:

    Expertees.com in Junction City Oregon, played NO part in the design in question nor the printing of this shirt. Assumptions are often misleading and defamatory. We have never had an affiliation with WalMart nor will we.
    Aycaray assumes that because the shirt had a skull on it, we are responsible for it. I say “Raised by Hippies”!

    Sarah Roome
    Owner/Operator
    http://www.expertees.com

  33. Trackback says:

    Consumerist brings news that Wal-Mart is still selling t-shirts with a Nazi-era graphic more than a year after they were recalled. As the site rightly points out, if Wal-Mart can’t get one t-shirt off its shelves, what does that mean for the millions of recalled toys tainted with lead?

  34. Trackback says:

    We just got our hands on the latest Wal-Mart “green” t-shirt advertisement. The company asks: Can buying a $6 t-shirt help the environment? The first question that comes to mind is: What was the human cost of producing a $6 t-shirt?

  35. TAiCon says:

    Wow, that’s quite interesting. This is my first time hearing all this stuff. Walmart just has to be responsible the situation appropriately. There is a t-shirt out there that would be great for Walmart which would brighten things up a bit and take away the negative publicity unless that’s what they are trying to create… Check out this website. There is a shirt on there and this guy is promoting Universal Unity and Brotherhood/humanhood: http://www.operationdemonstrate.org. Perhaps walmart should contact them and promote some positivity…IMAGINE THAT!