Swedish store Gekås faced quick and substantial customer displeasure when a toy model set showed very obvious Nazi imagery. CEO Boris Lennerhov faces the problem publicly.
One Swedish store, Gekås in Ullared, is facing major backlash for what customers are calling Nazi Gestapo themed toy soldiers. TheLocal.se reports that toy soldiers sport swastikas and eagles, widely distributed symbols of the Third Reich and seen throughout Germany during the Second World War.
One father told the Swedish paper Expressen, “When I looked closely at the figures I saw that there are German tanks with smiling soldiers from the Nazi era.” Is this an accident? Perhaps not.
The Local notes that recently Nazi-era themed products have hit European shelves and many of them are causing problems for offended customers.
In October, Spanish fashion company Mango apologized for a shirt with small lightning symbols that resembled a symbol promoted by the Waffen SS.
And Spanish clothing chain Zara faced severe criticism for a Wild West sheriff jersey that too closely resembled attire worn in concentration camps. Surprisingly, this is not the first time the chain has caused a controvery. Zara also caused a scandal when a bag with a swastika appeared in a catalogue in 2007.
Earlier this month, many people around the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall and the end of the Cold War. However, many more remained unaware of the anniversary of the 1938 Pogromnacht, or what was formerly referred to as Kristallnacht by Nazi propaganda.
That same weekend Nicki Minaj released the lyric video for the song “Only,” which featured very clear Nazi propaganda symbols found in in the video. The singer and director of the video faced a deep backlash, where many people online called for YouTube to pull the video.
Gekås i Ullared rensar på leksakshyllorna sedan kunder upptäckt leksaker med nazistsymboler: http://t.co/4Bw5epewUC pic.twitter.com/HxNfeZf11A— Svenska Dagbladet (@SvD) November 29, 2014
As the international community calls out against the idea of making Nazi symbolism chic, Gekås CEO Boris Lennerhov wants customers to understand that the toys do not condone the ideas of Nazism. “This is not something we want to promote as form of ideal.”
However, customers must not forget that someone signed off on the Gekås toys. A translation of the Expressen article points out that the uniforms bear an iron cross as well as the eagle helmet. Lest anyone forget, the eagle was a major symbol for Nazi Germany’s rule. The same father from TheLocal article notes that the tank models include Nazi tanks Tiger and Panther.
Lennerhov told journalist Eva Rogsten that sometimes the company makes mistakes and this is one of them. However, he contradicted the assertion by saying the construction models were made for adults even while marketed to children.
#Swedish store sweeps shelves of Nazi #toys http://t.co/BcPqnNpAdo via @TheLocalSweden #Gekås #Sweden #UniteBlue pic.twitter.com/HDyxRMjfEQ— Paul Harris (@pathrs) November 30, 2014
For World War Two, perhaps more thought should have been initiated as everyone who found the toy seemed to point out the toy was offensive. He also insists that Gekås has a strict policy about objects that are racist, sexist, or deliberately provocative—such as the Nazi symbolism adorning the children’s aisle.
Next time, Gekås should check with parents and see if they want their children opening offensive toys on Christmas morning.