Teespring Faces Backlash Over Offensive Anti-Semitic Merchandise

Teespring is facing continued backlash for producing and offering for sale offensive merchandise that makes light of the Holocaust.

In the wake of last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., by a mob of pro-Trump supporters, Twitter users on Sunday found that the website, which offers to produce, ship and host online merchandise from just about anyone with a design, did so for an extremely offensive line of apparel dubbed “Camp Auschwitz.” Such apparel was seen and photographed on a number of perpetrators of the Capitol attack, while still others were seen waving Confederate flags and sporting a variety of white supremacist tattoos, along with pro-Trump merchandise, some of which sellers like Shopify have prevented from being sold further.

Auschwitz was a Nazi concentration camp operated in occupied Poland during WWII and the Holocaust where an estimated more than 1 million Jewish people were systematically murdered. The merchandise sold by Teespring, apparently for at least several months, makes light of this violent history by printing “Camp Auschwitz” on sweaters, hoodies and T-shirts, even a cell phone case, with a skull design and rowing oars underneath, in the style of a summer camp flag, along with a version of a Nazi slogan referring to the concentration camp.

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After the outcry online, the San Francisco-based company on Monday said it had removed the apparel from its site and banned the individual selling it and that it would be making a donation to the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial and State Museum. It did not specify the amount of the donation or when it would be made and a company representative could not be reached for comment.

“We are sickened to see the designs brought to our attention on social media and are truly sorry for the distress caused to communities and individuals alike,” the company wrote on Twitter. “Hateful content is strictly prohibited and is against our policies and values as a company.”

Yet the merchandise at issue has apparently been available on the site for several months, according to a screenshot online. A Twitter user said they attempted to report the merchandise and have it taken down some months ago and posted a supposed response they received from the company defending the merchandise. But Teespring said the exchange was from “an unrelated issue.”  

On Monday, Teespring said it has “zero tolerance” for the “Camp” design and suggested that its detection systems for “problematic designs” were evaded by “bad characters.” The company could not be reached for further insight into how this could happen.

Still, social media users were not impressed with the company’s response. Many claimed that the company does indeed vet designs, but only for copyright issues related to other brands. People claimed to have had designs rejected for production by Teespring or taken off the site because they were deemed too close to logos by Chanel or The North Face.

“I had a shirt that used a ‘Pokémon’ theme that Teespring took down, so I’m struggling to understand how this was even allowed to be sold at all,” one Twitter user said. 

The company last year also came under fire for producing and selling Proud Boys merchandise, the far right neo-fascist group, and pro-Confederacy merchandise. It took much of that merchandise down, along with that supporting Antifa, the left-wing, anti-fascist and anti-racist group. 

But even on Monday, a quick search of the site showed pro-Confederate merchandise is still for sale, including an all-white “stars and bars” T-shirt representing the Confederacy, a shirt in “Confederate orange” with a quote by Confederate general Robert E. Lee, among several other examples.

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