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Author Topic: Wal-Mart pulls T-shirts with Nazi skull logo
snopes
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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is pulling a skull-and-crossbones T-shirt from its shelves after a Maryland blogger complained that the image was identical to a Nazi SS emblem from World War II.

http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/1113walmart-shirt13-ON.html

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musicgeek
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I suppose I can forgive Wal-Mart. As the article points out, the Totenkopf is one of the more obscure Nazi symbols. What the heck is the clothing manufacturer thinking, however?

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[God said] "I'll just sit back in the shade while everyone gets laid; that's what I call intelligent design." - Chris Smither, "Origin of the Species"

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RLobinske
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quote:
Originally posted by musicgeek:
I suppose I can forgive Wal-Mart. As the article points out, the Totenkopf is one of the more obscure Nazi symbols. What the heck is the clothing manufacturer thinking, however?

Maybe it's the history geek in me. Obscure?
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Rhiandmoi
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The original blog with a picture:

http://www.bentcorner.com/2006/11/09/wal-mart-is-selling-shirts-with-a-nazi-ss-skull-on-it/


I wonder who makes the shirts.

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Rhiandmoi
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More Walmart shirts with Skulls:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?dest=9999999997&product_id=5064681&sourceid=1500000000000001487290
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?dest=9999999997&product_id=5064673&sourceid=1500000000000001487290
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?dest=9999999997&product_id=5064669&sourceid=1500000000000001487290

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Mr. Billion
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quote:
Originally posted by RLobinske:
quote:
Originally posted by musicgeek:
I suppose I can forgive Wal-Mart. As the article points out, the Totenkopf is one of the more obscure Nazi symbols. What the heck is the clothing manufacturer thinking, however?

Maybe it's the history geek in me. Obscure?
Well, I sure don't remember ever seeing it. I'd bet that far more people will recognize the swastika and SS lightning bars than the mushy skull.

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Artemis
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I had no idea it was a Nazi symbol. Probably they didn't either...skulls are "in" thing these days, after all.

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Jonny T
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Skulls in general I could see your point, or even a skull with some similarities with the totenkopf, but to use a symbol like that can't be an accident.

quite appalling lack of judgement on their part.

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VeebleFetzer
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And, of course, I immediately thought of this sketch.

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Richard W
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quote:
Originally posted by Rhiandmoi:
I wonder who makes the shirts.

Well you can order a t-shirt with the same symbol from this website - "resources for hobbyists, teachers, museums and all students of Third Reich history" - all your neo-Nazi t-shirt needs, in fact. But it can't be exactly the one that Walmart was selling - even the least observant person would have noticed the "3rd SS Panzer Division" caption, and the "Death Head Tour" dates on the back.

(edit) They really do have some feeble justifications for some of their goods. The "1ST FALLSHIRMJAEGER DIVISION" shirt is apparently "Just the right addition for re-enactors, gamers, or students of historical units." Right, re-enactors and students of historical units will love it, because that's exactly what the squadron members wore with their uniforms! They seem to give up half way down the page and just start describing things as "eye grabbing"...

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VeebleFetzer
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It occurs to me that customers’ reactions are possibly not the worst of Wal-Mart’s potential problems arising from these shirts.

Since the image clearly hasn’t been properly licensed, it looks to me like a cut-and-dried case of copyright and/or trademark infringement.

And a “cease and desist” order from the Nazi party has historically involved somewhat more than a stern letter from their solicitor.

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Arriah
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Snork @ Veeble

Good thing I wasn't eating.

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Rebecca

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Jonny T
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one thing for wal-mart, they at least can claim ignorance when it comes to Third Reich-esque shirts, unlike fcuk...

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snopes
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Once Wal-Mart started supporting homosexuality, you knew it was only a matter of time before they started condoning fascism as well ...

- snopes

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Errata
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I have to agree that its one of their more obscure symbols. Everyone recognizes the swastika. I don't recall seeing that skull before. Whoever copied the design had to know though.
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Donovan
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I think I would have recognized it. But I'm also a military history buff, so I tend to pick up on things that many do not. But I do think that if I had saw that in a store, my first thought would be about the old SS execution squads and camp guards (whom, if I remember right, were the ones who wore this symbol).

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Rhiandmoi
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Why would the person that copied the design have had to have known what it is? I vaguely knew that the Jolly Roger was a death's head and a death's head was a totenkopf. I didn't know that the totenkopf was a SS sympbol.

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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Donovan
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Not all 'Death's Heads', but that specific design. The image on the shirt is almost a percise reproduction of the 3rd SS division, who used it on their collars.

If it had been any other skull & bones combination, it would have not been a problem. But the proportions between the skull and bones, the specific angle the skull sits, the 'crack' pattern on the skull, ect.

Donovan Ravenhull

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Illius me paenitet, dux (Latin for fun and business)

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El Camino
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While many people may recognize the symbol immediately, it is certainly a symbol that is far well less known than, say, the swastica - or the hammer and sickle. Now, I find it fascinating that for some reason even an obscure Nazi symbol is totally taboo for a shirt (even out of context), but you (or I) see people walking around all the time with hammer and sickle shirts. Since communist leaders like Stalin are responsible for millions of civilian deaths as well (often in a fashion to the Nazis), I find it odd that one symbol (or group of symbols) is so much more of an issue than the other.

I'm not saying that it shouldn't be. There are certainly differences in what some symbols originally stood for: the hammer and sickle stood for the power of labor and peasants, basically, on not the killings that were done under its name, while the swastica is a direct symbol of racial superiority (when used by the Nazis, of course). However, this particular totenkopf is merely a particular variation of a common military insignia.

So, I don't know. I have to go, or I'd speculate more, but it is an interesting question. Why is wearing a hammer and sickle shirt so much more acceptable than this particular shirt?

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Errata
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quote:
Why is wearing a hammer and sickle shirt so much more acceptable than this particular shirt?
The USSR wasn't inherently evil. It started out with well intentioned (if economically and philisophically naive) ideas. But once it had a totalitarian system in place it was hijacked by strongmen and used for evil, and the people's government screwed the people. Yes, the founders perhaps should have been able to foresee that happening, but at least you can say they didn't plan it all along to play out the way it did. They were mostly just incorrect rather than wantonly evil.

The Nazis were a rare breed. They started out deeply corrupted and didn't have any redeeming qualities. There is no sane perspective from which they were even trying to do the right thing.

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SiKboy
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I didnt see the picture at first, and read this thread assuming it would be some really obscure variation on the deaths head insignia, in the same vein as the nordic runes that the nazis co-opted into nazi symbols, and that a lot of people dont know have any racist connitations (and others are annoyed that they do, so use them in non-racist contexts, trying to in a way "reclaim" the symbols), but when I finally saw the T-shirt in question... Are you seriously telling me that no-one down the line saw these and knew that this was a nazi design? I mean, sure thats less well known than the swastica, but to me thats like saying "Well, himmler was less well known than hitler, so its okay that they had himmler on a shirt". It just boggles my mind. I mean, I'm not any kind of military or history buff, but thats not really an obscure symbol...

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candycane from strangers
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I've never seen that symbol before and I've had to write papers about Nazis before, and done research. Again, that only excuses Walmart, not the manufacturer.

El Camino- I can honestly say that I don't recall ever having seen someone walking around with a hammer and sickle shirt, let alone "all the time" Not meant to be snarky, just confused.

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Troodon
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Regarding the hammer and sickle: I don't think that it's an image to be taken lightly, and I wouldn't like to see it on a t-shirt. However, to me it is not an evil symbol - I see it as representing a failed dream. It makes me a little sad.

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Mosherette
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I've seen numerous hammer-and-sickle t-shirts. Some chap was wearing one on TV the other week but I can't for the life of me remember who it was. The t-shirt was off-white with the hammer-and-sickle in a mid-blue, slightly off-centre towards the shoulder. It's going to bug me now. Who the hell was it?!

(The post brought to you by the humble hyphen.)

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trollface
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quote:
Originally posted by VeebleFetzer:
And, of course, I immediately thought of this sketch.

First thing I thought of when I saw the thread title, too.

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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RLobinske
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quote:
Originally posted by Donovan Ravenhull:
I think I would have recognized it. But I'm also a military history buff, so I tend to pick up on things that many do not. But I do think that if I had saw that in a store, my first thought would be about the old SS execution squads and camp guards (whom, if I remember right, were the ones who wore this symbol).

Yes, the 3rd SS Panzer was originally drawn from camp guards.

I'll agree that many of the general public wouldn't know, but as was pointed out, military history students would easily recognize it, because the 3rd SS Panzer was one of the most notorious units in WWII.

It still boggles the mind that nobody noticed until after these hit the store shelves.

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skeptic
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quote:
Originally posted by Rhiandmoi:
Why would the person that copied the design have had to have known what it is? I vaguely knew that the Jolly Roger was a death's head and a death's head was a totenkopf. I didn't know that the totenkopf was a SS sympbol.

Hitler had a habit of using symbols from various parts of the world, so it would be interesting to know who used it first.
But one shirt that really annoys me is anything with Che Guevara. Interesting to know if Walmart sells shirts with this terrorist on the front, or any of those ones with a cannibas leaf.

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Hypno Toad
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Slightly OT. This symbol (Sans the crossbones) was used as the design for Lara Croft's belt buckle in the first Tomb Raider Movie (belt buckle)

It caused a stir in Germany (Where all Nazi iconography is illegal) when this was only spotted towards the end of a heavy marketing campaign. I'm looking for a cite.

HT

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Hans Off
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Thay should have gone for the 17th-21st Lancers symbology, a meaner looking skull IMO

17th-21st lancers

Oh and that Mitchell and Webb sketch is brilliant. Did anyone see the "Admiral Doenitz" sketch later in the series?

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Major D. Saster
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Actually, the white Skull and Crossbones on a black field was also a generic emblem of the Panzer troops, SS and Wehrmacht alike, based of the traditional insigna of the prussian "Totenkopf" Hussars of the Napoleonic wars.

So, not so inherantly Nazi as other symbols of the era, but totally sick on a T-Shirt. I would have complained at Wal-Mart, too. They could have used the US Navy Jolly Rogers Squadron insigna instead.
http://www.jolly-rogers.com/

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Astra
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quote:
Originally posted by skeptic:
quote:
Originally posted by Rhiandmoi:
Why would the person that copied the design have had to have known what it is? I vaguely knew that the Jolly Roger was a death's head and a death's head was a totenkopf. I didn't know that the totenkopf was a SS sympbol.

Hitler had a habit of using symbols from various parts of the world, so it would be interesting to know who used it first.
But one shirt that really annoys me is anything with Che Guevara. Interesting to know if Walmart sells shirts with this terrorist on the front, or any of those ones with a cannibas leaf.

No Che shirts I've ever seen, and the store doesn't carry drug-related merchandise. I've never seen a marijuana leaf on anything there.

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Major D. Saster
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I stand corrected:


In the prussian cavalry, it was already there as early as in the mid-XVIIIth century.

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

And of course, it was also a favorite of the XVIIth century pirates.

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The Ota Faction
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Hmmm... I went to the Wally*World last night, and I saw one of these shirts still on the shelves...I wonder what they're going for on Ebay.

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Gavida
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What annoys me most is not the ignorance of the designer of the shirt or the ignorance of Wal-Mart for putting the shirt up for sale, but this blogger guy who realized what the symbol was, snapped a picture of it with his cell phone and put it in his blog. So he needed his 15 minutes?

Wouldn't it have been better to just call Wal-Mart (I do believe they have a headquarter somewhere) and tell them first that they should pull the shirts from the shelves because of the picture?

But Nooooo, you wouldn't get into the papers when doing it this way, not in the news and maybe you don't get that many hits on your webpage you get when just posting it.

I guess I am an idiot for thinking this way. If this had happened with a german retailer or discounter I would have called them and told them about the faux pas. If they would have replied "wtf? we don't care" then I might have made it more widley known. But I would have given them a chance to correct the mistake first.

Gavida

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Halfpint Mindy
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
quote:
Originally posted by Rhiandmoi:
I wonder who makes the shirts.

Well you can order a t-shirt with the same symbol from this website - "resources for hobbyists, teachers, museums and all students of Third Reich history" - all your neo-Nazi t-shirt needs, in fact. But it can't be exactly the one that Walmart was selling - even the least observant person would have noticed the "3rd SS Panzer Division" caption, and the "Death Head Tour" dates on the back.

(edit) They really do have some feeble justifications for some of their goods. The "1ST FALLSHIRMJAEGER DIVISION" shirt is apparently "Just the right addition for re-enactors, gamers, or students of historical units." Right, re-enactors and students of historical units will love it, because that's exactly what the squadron members wore with their uniforms! They seem to give up half way down the page and just start describing things as "eye grabbing"...

Here is another site the sells similar items, Bell and Blade.
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