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.
Rick Rottman, who runs an online journal called Bent Corner, posted a picture of the shirt late last week next to an image of a divisional insignia he said was used by the 3rd SS Division, a unit of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS.
The design is a distinctive image of a squat-looking human skull slightly angled to the side.
Wal-Mart said Monday it was not aware of the origins of the image until Rottman’s post and is working quickly to get the T-shirt out of stores, spokesman David Tovar said.
“We are deeply sorry that this happened, and we are in the process of pulling all of these T-shirts from our stores,” Tovar said. “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.”
Wal-Mart is also reviewing its processes among suppliers for checking products in an effort to ensure this never happens again, Marshall Manson from Wal-Mart’s national public relations firm Edelman wrote in an e-mail to blogs that carried the story.
Rottman told The Associated Press by telephone Monday that he had seen the shirts in three Maryland Wal-Mart stores during the weekend.
Rottman, 42, an electronics technician and a Air Force veteran, said he noticed the shirt at a Hagerstown, Md., Wal-Mart on Thursday.
“The image kind of struck me. I used to read a lot of books about World War II and the skull is really distinctive,” Rottman said. He took a photo with his cell phone and checked the image at home, he said.
The Waffen SS was the fighting arm of the notorious SS (Schutzstaffel), founded in 1925 as the personal bodyguard for Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders.
Waffen SS divisions have been implicated in murder sprees in German-occupied countries on the eastern and western fronts in World War II. Some guarded concentration camps.