| In November, Boycott Watch President
Fred Taub read a report by columnist
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
Photos from www.DebbieSchlussel.com
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
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
8) How was that notice transmitted?
9) Why has it taken this
long to remove the shirts?
10) Where did these shirts come from?
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?
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?
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.
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
"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."
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