Boycott Watch
December 6, 2006
Wal-Mart Failed To Remove Nazi Emblem Shirts
Summary: Wal-Mart offered Nazi emblem shirts, but failed to remove them in a timely manor after discovering their error, thus resulting in irate customers. Boycott Watch confirms the underlying reasons for the boycott calls resulting from this case.
   In November, Boycott Watch President Fred Taub read a report by columnist Debbie Schlussel where she reported the Bent Corner website reported they found Nazi Deaths Head (Tottenkopf) logo shirts for sale at Wal-Mart.

   The Order of the Death's Head (Tottenkopf) a.k.a. the Schutz Staffel, a.k.a. the SS which is knows for its interlocking lightning-bolt style font "SS" logo, was established by Adolf Hitler as his personal and later state secret guard unit. The SS was lead by famed Nazi mass murderer Heinrich Himmler, who turned the unit into one of the most notorious and feared Nazi military units. Heinz Höhne wrote the book which is considered the authoritative text on the topic, "The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS" which is available in most bookstores.
Original Nazi Logo   Wal-Mart shirt
Photos from

   After the Wal-Mart story broke, it was been spread over the Internet and Boycott Watch has received several complaints including calls for boycotts. Knowing that responsible companies would make sure that such shirts would be immediately removed once discovered and presuming that the shirts were first sold without knowledge of the logo origin, the Boycott Watch staff ignored the emails. On December 4th, however, Debbie Schlussel reported that one of her readers saw that the shirts were still for sale in an Indiana Wal-Mart store.

   Seeing an obvious problem and in response to the emails, Boycott Watch editors decided to look into this matter further. What we knew is that Wal-Mart had promised to remove all such shirts when they found out about the problem on November 10th. We also know that sending directives and memorandums to stores should take no less than a few days, and store managers should be able to act on such memorandums also in less than a few days. As such, one could reasonable expect all such shirts to be removed in one week or less.

   It is also possible that memorandums may be overlooked in some stores, but we also know that if Wal-Mart saw this as a high priority, the corporation would make sure such shirts are removed and do so as a high priority. As such, we contacted Wal-Mart for comment on December 5th almost one month after the story broke, and were told the following:

   "We were not aware of the origins of the image until the morning of Nov. 10 when we learned about it through the blog Bent Corner. 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.

Jami Arms
Wal-Mart spokeswoman
Wal-Mart Corporate Communications
Media Line: 1-800-331-0085

   Being that the removal process was taking way longer than it should have and the fact that Wal-Mart said almost nothing in their email, the Wal-Mart response triggered a list of questions we sent to Wal-Mart for comment in order to understand their process and to be able to accurately report to our readers. Good journalistic question are tough and thorough, but also leave room for an open response, which we did. The questions we send to Wal-Mart are:

1) When were stores notified to remove the shirts?
2) How was that notice transmitted?
3) Why has it taken this long to remove the shirts?
4) Do corporate memorandums typically take weeks to distribute?
5) What are your procedures to check logos and designs to make sure copyrighted logos are not broken?
6) Would such a check include these logos?
7) When were stores notified to remove the shirts?
8) How was that notice transmitted?
9) Why has it taken this long to remove the shirts?
10) Where did these shirts come from?
11) Who designed the shirts?
12) Who approved the shirts for the stores?
13) Where there any other corporate communications regarding these shirts?
14) Can you please send me a copy of the memo to the stores regarding the removal of the shirts?
15) What exactly happened when Wal-Mart was first made aware of the problem with these shirts on November 10th?
16) What procedures will Wal-Mart take to prevent this from happening in the future?
17) How will Wal-Mart transmit the apology for allowing these shirts to be in your stores to begin with?
18) How will Wal-Mart transmit the apology for not removing the shirts in a timely manor?

   In response, Wal-Mart replied "We have no further comment."

   As such, Wal-Mart has refused to state when their memo to stores was sent, or even if it was sent. They also refused to apologize to those who would be offended by such a logo on a shirt, which we see as being the decent and moral people of the world.

   We contacted Wal-Mart about the refusal to comment and Boycott Watch President Fred Taub stated: "Then I will have to go with what I have, including your statement that you have no further comment. I will also have to take your response as a failure and lack of care to remove the Nazi logo shirts in a timely manor.

   "Just remember that I have given you an ample opportunity to present your side of the story and in defense of your employer, which you have refused to do."

   Wal-Mart has yet to send any reply.

   Boycott Watch has therefore confirmed the underlying basis for the boycott calls against Wal-Mart in this incident based on both our research and the refusal of Wal-Mart to remove the shirts in a timely manor.

   This is the third time Boycott Watch has reported about Wal-Mart in the past year. First, there was the refusal of Wal-Mart to say Merry Christmas and a Wal-Mart employee lecturing the Catholic League about the origins of Christmas. Second, we recently reported how Wal-Mart has came under fire by religious organizations for forming an alliance with an organization that promotes gay marriage, both resulting in lower sales. Now, Wal-Mart has this to deal with. It is obvious that Wal-Mart has some serious problems.

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