Walmart Nazi Tshirt Watch: Week 28

walmartcommercecitynazishir28 weeks after Walmart agreed to remove shirts bearing Nazi iconography from its shelves, and 16 weeks after getting a letter from Congress demanding the shirts removal, they’re still there. Al writes:

So I took my wife over to the Wal*mart store in Chelmsford, MA for some cheap, low-quality Chinese goods, and as we were walking out I spotted the now infamous 3rd division Totenkopf logo high atop the men’s clothing department’s shelves. I walked over to the wall, and it appears that while they actually took the shirts off the shelves, the logo itself is still being proudly displayed among the other non-nazi designs. Talk about missing the point!

— BEN POPKEN

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  1. skrom says:

    Why should they be forced by congress to remove them. They arent illegal. They may be immoral and a bad choice of product to sell but if they want to sell them they should be allowed.

  2. bnb614 says:

    I would love to get a letter from Congress demanding me to do something they have no authority over. In the meantime, I demand that Congress justify their part time work schedule for exorbitant pay and benefits.

  3. Smashville says:

    Yeah…but the important thing this continues to show – and as the pet food recall made painfully obvious – Wal-Mart’s recall system is borked.

    I mean, they continued to not only not recall the tainted pet food, but also to stock it.

  4. alk509 says:

    skrom & bnb614,

    You should actually read the letter before commenting on it. Congress isn’t forcing or demanding them to do anything. The letter was completely appropriate.

    Best,
    Al.

  5. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Yet another reason Walmart should go out of business. I can’t believe a business textbook listed Walmart as a business model that we should actually study. Anyway it seems Wal-Mart turned into some reincarnation of the government….they can’t do anything right, and everything they do pisses me off.

  6. Melov says:

    You’re all making too big of a deal about this t-shirt. I’ve seen worse t-shirts on other websites. Walmart has the right to sell anything they want.

  7. bedofnails says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil:

    Walmart should go out of business?

    Holy crap.

  8. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    They can sell anything they want, as long as it’s in good taste, their stores are clean, and their floor “associates” are friendly. They have…oh, 0/3.

  9. Sudonum says:

    @Melov:
    You’re new here aren’t you?

  10. ColoradoShark says:

    @Melov:
    The shirt is objectionable and they could stock it if they said, “Too bad, first amendment, free speech, blah blah blah”.

    The issue is:
    -They said they would pull it
    -They still haven’t pulled it after 25 weeks
    -This is just an example of their incompetence at pulling inappropriate things from the store like shirts and pet food that kills pets.

    Walmart could use this as a dry run in case something turns up in their store that kills people like food, toys, electronics etc. They are failing.

  11. OBoogie says:

    To say Wal-Mart should go out of business is just absurd. Make your own choice and don’t shop there if you are so deeply against them, but they provide low prices on decent quality goods for people who live paycheck to paycheck. They aren’t going away.

    I wish they would get the message out to their stores to remove the shirts–they have the means to do so. However, store managers are so often so overwhelmed with messages from Home Office that something like this could be easily overlooked.

    Yes, I used to work at WM corporate, but no, I don’t anymore. They aren’t perfect–not even close–but they do a lot of good things, and a lot of families would be SOL with them.

  12. bedofnails says:

    Don’t worry about IRSistherootofallevil, he once posted that “gravity…another reason Walmart should go out of business.”

  13. mopar_man says:

    they provide low prices on decent quality goods

    I would like an example please.

  14. voltronguy says:

    I humbly request that this story be moved to a monthly or bi-monthly update schedule, weekly is becoming a bit much.

  15. mopar_man says:

    May 31
    May 22
    May 9
    Apr 20
    Feb 28
    Feb 9
    Etc.

    Last I checked, that wasn’t weekly.

  16. Bourque77 says:

    This isnt t-shirthell.com we are talking about here its Wal-Mart. Its offensive and so they dont want to piss people off. They agreed to remove the shirt yet several months later its still there. Thats pretty much the whole story. They havent taken them out of all the wal-mart stores and its become a joke. This just showed how crappy their recall system was.

  17. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    Have any of the readers who have seen the shirts in Walmart at least bring this issue up with the managers there instead of just snapping pictures/ taking videos?

    Wouldn’t the best course of action be talking to a manager, tell him/ her that you are offended by the t-shirt, state that they are appalled that the shirts are still on the shelves, and then insist that they be removed?

    I don’t know how reasonable that would be, but I would imagine that voicing a concern as a consumer would be the best way to handle this so that all shirts will be pulled.

  18. Triteon says:

    @voltronguy: I’ll respectfully disagree with your monthly request. I hated this around Week 10, but now these updates are like part of the family. A week without Totenkopf (hell, I’ve even learned to spell it!) is like a week without sunshine!
    FYI, we’ve gone a good 6 months without a Mike Krempasky update.

  19. Triteon says:

    @msb2: I’m guessing WM’s best course of action would be to respond to a Congressional request to remove these shirts.

  20. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    @Triteon: True. Obviously there’s a failure to comply at the store level. It must be management at the stores not doing their job properly. So, why not use our voices to bitch and moan to these managers faces that they haven’t removed the shirts. If someone doesn’t do it, who will, you know what I mean?

  21. toadboy65 says:

    Do you imagine that Walmart or the designers of the shirt actually advocate Nazism? I see it as an unfortunate choice of clipart, trying to capitalize on the hip pirate thing thats going on. I would not be surprised to learn that the nazis borrowed the image from someone else. I have seen things at walmart that bother me much more than these shirts.

  22. stenk says:

    Do we not have bigger things to think about?

    Wal-Mart is a shit store from what I am beginning to understand from all the articles on this website, so don’t shop there!

    Done!

  23. toadboy65 says:

    From what i am able to figure out, the image in question does in fact predate the nazi movement, originating no later than the beginning of the twentieth century. It is in fact a prussian image, predating even WWI. Lets be adults and worry about the things that affect our families now, instead of digging through clipart, searching for something to be offended by.

  24. MentalDisconnect says:

    I am a Jew and I am very offended…. wait.. that’s not the issue anymore. Does Walmart know how to recall anything? From what I hear, they don’t sell it, just stock it, apparently to make Consumerist angry. It’s the equivalent of a staring contest- they’re going to see who cracks first. Will Consumerist lose interest, or will Walmart cave and remove the shirts? Anyone want to take bets?

    Perhaps this will be an immortal struggle.

    Week 5,638 of Walmart Totenkopf shirt recall- Walmartia stays strong against merchandise removal.

    I never thought I’d find anything related to the Nazis amusing. Thanks, Consumerist.

  25. shoegazer says:

    damn, will this never die down?

  26. bigvicproton says:

    hmmm…

    nazi shirts: not acceptable.

    “for some cheap, low-quality Chinese goods”: acceptable, even though Chinese slave labor still exists today, but hey if it doesnt have a swastika on it i guess its fine…

  27. DuckFOO says:

    “25 weeks after Walmart blah blah blah, and 16 weeks after whine whine whine, they’re still there.”

    I’m sorry, but this is such a stupid non-story and I can’t believe the Consumerist doesn’t have better things to worry about.

  28. bastarre says:

    Just to add a bit of fuel to the fire…but who cares? It’s just a symbol. What happens when they put out an 82nd Airborne t-shirt and it offends the Muslims because of our actions in the Middle East. (disclaimer: I’m on year 16 in the military)

  29. mopar_man says:

    @bigvicproton:

    Neither is acceptable, which is why I don’t shop at Wal-Mart.

  30. hemaphore says:

    i still have yet to literally step foot into a wal-mart. i’ll fully admit to it: i’m scared.

  31. enm4r says:

    So the shirt still isn’t being sold, it isn’t on the shelf, and this is still a story. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next undercover journal entry to be entertained.

  32. Steve518 says:

    Side note: who out there would actually buy a “Mug Root Beer” t-shirt?

  33. bnb614 says:

    alk509 said: “You should actually read the letter before commenting on it. Congress isn’t forcing or demanding them to do anything. The letter was completely appropriate.”

    Speaking for myself I did read the letter and while you are correct they didn’t demand anything, I still wouldn’t characterize the letter as appropriate. Don’t you expect more from your Congress people?

    I guess Congress can do whatever they want, but for them to ask of a business: “request that you inform us about the actions you are taking and will take to ensure that this type of product is not sold in your stores.”

    Don’t they have more pressing issues than to worry about what is resulting for horrible PR for Wal-Mart?

    My problem is Congress has taken on the role of monarchs. Never take responsibility for any of their horrible decisions but want to call everyone else out on the carpet for accountability.

    Therefore Congress:

    I would respectfully request that you inform us about the actions you are taking and will take to ensure that the immigration issues are resolved.

    I would respectfully request that you inform us about the actions you are taking and will take to ensure that the earmark abuse and ethical/lobbying abuses are resolved.

    and on and on.

    In other words, please worry about something you actually get paid to do.

  34. Logan26 says:

    Could someone please tell me what is so NAZIish about those shirts as I simply dont see it. Its a skull, I see no NAZI symbols on it what so ever.

  35. The_Shadow says:

    In the picture above, the skull there [called a totenkopf or "death's head"] was the unit insignia of the 3rd SS Division.

    You can read a bit more on the unit here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Division_Totenkopf

    As little as most people ever learn about history – it really surprises me that this particular depiction of a skull and cross bones has raised such a fuss [though any excuse for some folks to jump on the bash Wal-Mart bandwagon comes to mind].

    The skull and bones/death’s head image was used for centuries before the 3rd SS Div. wore it and is still used today. I highly doubt that whoever selected this design for Wal-Mart’s house-brand shirts was aware of this particular depiction of a skull and cross bones originated – most likely they thought it was used by some pirates.

    The people attempting to use this to bash Wal-Mart really should let it go, or they and Consumerist should start a similar campaign against the rock band KISS – the double S that KISS uses was first used by the Hitler’s SS.

    Dare to compare:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_%28band%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waffen-SS

  36. jaypee68 says:

    Get over it already. Most people posting here were never directly affected by Nazi Germany or their wrongdoings, so I’m really surprised at how many people are actually “offended” by a shirt design.

    This design features the SS Division Totenkopf used as an insignia for the German infantry from 1939 to 1945. Other examples include…


    Quoted from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totenkopf

    * The Kingdom of Sweden’s Hussar Regiments wore it in the Prussian Style on the front of the Mirleton.
    * The Russian Kornilov regiment adopted it in 1917.
    * The British Army’s Queen’s Royal Lancers continue to use the skull and crossbones in their emblem, inherited from its use by the 17th Light Dragoons – a unit raised in 1759 following General Wolfe’s death in Quebec, with an emblem of a death’s head and the words ‘Or Glory’ chosen in commemoration of him.
    * Death In June, an experimental musical group, use a modified version of a Totenkopf as a sort of logo, flanked by the number 6 since 1982. Although the particular version used by Death In June is a modified, faintly grinning version of the SS insignia, Pearce has stated the symbolism is clear: “The Totenkopf for Death, and the six for the sixth month – June.” The Totenkopf-6 appears on numerous articles of merchandise and many things relating to Death In June.
    * Marilyn Manson used this symbol on clothing during the Golden Age of Grotesque era in a parodying manner.
    * Although not exactly a Totenkopf per se, the Chilean guerrilla leader, Manuel Rodriguez used the symbol on his elite forces called “Husares de la muerte” (Hussars of death).

    So before people start having knee-jerk reactions about “Nazi propaganda”, and Wal-Mart profiting off the suffering of the jews, they need to realize that this symbol has a deep, rich history and doesn’t necessarily mean “Neener neener neener look at what Hitler did.”

    I’ve seen this shirt myself and I really like it. Does it mean that I like what happened during WWII? No. Does it make me sad? No. Does it make me say to myself “How disgusting. How could Walmart sell something that represents such a dark time?” No. What it does is it shows me that not everyone hangs on to the past, not everyone is concerned with making sure that no one is ever offended ever again.

    It’s OK to offend people once in a while, and do you know why? Because people need to be offended here and there, people need to realize that it’s not ok to live in a protective bubble, to realize that children DON’T need counseling every freaking time little Timmy dies. It’s ok to suffer, it’s ok to be disappointed, it’s ok to lose. You can’t always expect to be protected from something you don’t care for.

    I think a lot of people waste too much time on caring about dealing with small time crap like this and not enough time dealing with bigger more influential things like rising gas prices. I’ve seen comments like Wal-Mart should go out of business foe selling this shirt, but I never see comments on Consumerist that oil companies should be going out of business. Last time I looked, Wal-Mart didn’t have my ass bent over the oil barrel.

    P.S. Pirates of the Caribbean features a Totenkopf, it’s called the Jolly Roger. Maybe you should go boycott a pirate movie too.

  37. Indecision says:

    @jaypee68: P.S. Pirates of the Caribbean features a Totenkopf…

    No, it does not. From the very same Wikipeida article you linked to:

    “[The Totenkopf] is distinguished from the similar traditions of the skull and crossbones and the Jolly Roger by the fact that the bones are positioned directly behind the skull and the lower jaw bone is absent.”

    The Totenkopf on this shirt is not just any skull and crossbones, though. It’s an exact replica of the specific one the Nazis used. Which brings me to…

    …this symbol has a deep, rich history and doesn’t necessarily mean “Neener neener neener look at what Hitler did.”

    So does the swastika. In fact, it was a symbol of peace and well-being. So, make yourself a shirt with a swastika on it. Not just any swastika, though. You have to use a black one on ….

    Then try and defend it as a symbol of well-being.

  38. Indecision says:

    Why did that paragraph get cut off?

    You have to use a black one, on a 45-degree slant, inside a white circle with a thin black border, on top of a field of red. Just like the swastika used by the Nazis.

    Then try and defend it as a symbol of well-being.

  39. jaypee68 says:

    @Indecision:

    Not once did I state that it was a symbol of well-being, I said it had a deep, rich history. That’s a real big difference.

  40. Indecision says:

    @jaypee68: Yes, it is a difference. The difference is that at no time did I refer to the Totenkopf as a symbol of well-being. It was part of an analogy that you either misinterpreted, or missed entirely.

    So, here, I’ll spell it out more plainly. Symbols mean things. Specific symbols mean specific things. Sometimes, the things that they mean are not the same as the things they used to mean. Sometimes the same symbol can mean lots of different things, but only one of those things is well-known.

    It doesn’t matter that this Totenkopf was used by other armies, controversial musicians, and guerilla warriors (though they certainly don’t help the case, either). What matters is how the symbol is recognized by those who see it, and to many people this Totenkopf is a symbol of one of the most brutal groups of Nazis.

    To explain my Swastika analogy further, the Swastika used to symbolize peace and well-being. (You will notice that, just like in my post above, I am not claiming that the Totenkopf is a symbol of peace and well-being. Only that the Swastika once was.)

    You’d be hard pressed, however, to find anyone in the “Western” world (the Americas and Europe) who would see a Swastika and think of peace and love, instead of Nazis. And — this is the important part — event those who do know it as a symbol of peace will know that the specific black-on-white-on-red Swastika I linked to above is a symbol of genocide, not one of peace.

    So — this is what makes the analogy, so pay attention — just like your attempts to defend this Totenkopf image by pointing at “Pirates of the Caribbean”, it would be equal amounts of nonsense to defend the black-on-white-on-red Swastika by pointing at Buddhism.

  41. davidfbecker says:

    Ahh, you see, it just looks like they took the shirts off the shelf. In reality, they ran out of them and they’re waiting for the next shipment.

  42. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Oh yes, the pre-1939 Totenkopf looked exactly the same.

    Indecision, your analogy about the black/white/red swastika is better than you know. Nobody used “that Totenkopf” before the SS did; it was their own design, created by them for their use. In that sense it is as distinctive and unique as the Nazi Hakenkreuz.

    All those armies and regiments used something that looked a lot more like this. Anyone who’s trying to argue that the SS Totenkopf is exactly the same as all the others ever used is either blind or trying to make a questionable point.

  43. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Oh yes, the pre-1939 Totenkopf looked exactly the same.

    Indecision, your analogy about the black/white/red swastika is better than you know. Nobody used “that Totenkopf” before the SS did; it was their own design, created by them for their use. In that sense it is as distinctive and unique as the Nazi Hakenkreuz.

    All those armies and regiments used something that looked a lot more like this. Anyone who’s trying to argue that the SS Totenkopf is exactly the same as all the others ever used is either blind or trying to make a questionable point.

  44. creepyfriend says:

    I sent them an E-Mail June first. I found one of the shirts in Suwanee, Georgia. I guess they are bored of this story, or maybe they just haven’t found my E-Mail yet.

  45. Tristan921 says:

    This seems to be just the tip of the iceberg of Nazi marketing to youth. The most popular German band (Rammstein) uses Nazi symbols, which few people recognize, to market itsself to young people all over the world. I think they are the impetus for much of the sales of Nazi goods. At least they are a large part of the trend.

    http://raumfahrer.wordpress.com/

    The “Since 1978″ on the t-shirt seems to refer the the founding of the Nazi Punk movement which spawned the Nazi skinheads.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_skinhead

    Tristan