Wiesenthal Centre Commends Rapid Action of Spreadshirt in Response to Our Outrage at Yellow Star T-Shirt

July 28, 2021

Paris – The company took these immediate measures based on the Centre's demands

- An apology

- Immediate deletion of its offensive shirt

- The partner who uploaded the design was blocked

- None of the designs were sold

- Spreadshirt is looking into the incorporation of the IHRA definition of antisemitism in their standards

See the full response below the Centre's letter

PARIS – 23 July

In a letter to Dr. Julian de Grahl, CEO of Spreadshirt - an international textile speed-printing company based in Leipzig, Germany - the Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed “sickening outrage to see a Spreadshirt t-shirt with the yellow star - assimilating the anti-vaxxers to the Jewish victims of the Nazis - in rallies this week.”

 Most ironic was, the apparent date of the t-shirts arrival on the market. 16 and 17 July mark commemoration of the 1942 Vel d’hiv arrest for deportation from Paris to Auschwitz of 13,152 Jews - of which 4,115 children. Less than 100 adults survived.

The letter continued, “you are surely aware that Holocaust banalization is illegal in Germany and considered to be a form of antisemitism... We acknowledge your belated removal of this product from your website and production line. Nevertheless, this is not the first time Spreadshirt and other speed-printing companies have been abused in this manner.A similar case with Spreadshirt was denounced in May, while Vova Online was exposed by our Centre for its Hitler hoodies in December 2020.”

 The Wiesenthal Centre is ready to work with Spreadshirt to identify such orders for refusal and the necessary follow-up... Other examples of such outrageous stickers that may be on the way to t-shirt status were provided to the company.

Samuels noted that, “The use of Nazi-related symbology is not a trivial matter, but rather politically motivated....”The banalization of the Holocaust has been around for decades and remains today a pernicious tool to revive antisemitism.”

 The letter urged Spreadshirt "to adopt the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of antisemitism, endorsed by the European Union, its member-States, NGOs, sports clubs and companies, as a guide to better understand the parameters and promotion of hate and violence targeting the Jews.”

 “Furthermore, to include a reference to the IHRA definition on your webpage, would effectively discourage attempts by some hatemongers to use Spreadshirt as a vector of discrimination,” concluded Samuels.


Spreadshirt 27 July Response to Our 23 July Outrage at Yellow Star T-Shirt

Dear Dr. Shimon Samuels,

thank you very much for taking the time to be in touch with us on this matter. We apologize from the bottom of our hearts that a yellow star with an anti-vaccination message was online on our platform. 

Please be assured that we deleted the design immediately as we became aware of it. The partner who uploaded the design to his online shop was also blocked by us because he violated our Community Standards several times. 

Our Community Standards (https://www.spreadshirt.com/community-standards-C3529), but of course also our values and our convictions as a company, prohibit such content in the strongest possible terms.

After a similarly terrible incident in the spring of 2020 we improved our technical and also manual measures in the design upload process for our partners. One element was e.g. the better detection of designs similar in shape to a star in the color yellow. And we also worked on the design reporting, enabling our community to inform us quickly in case they find a design on our platform which might violate our standards. We are currently investigating at full speed how the designs could go online at all last week and are very sorry that it happened as we strongly condemn such content.

We can confirm that none of the designs have been sold which means that no products have been printed with these symbols.

Thank you very much for your offered support and warning us about this completely unacceptable sticker design.

We will continue to improve our measures to ensure that while we are a platform based on user generated content that our partners follow the platform's Community Standards. As part of this we will take a closer look if we could incorporate the IHRA Definition of antisemitism in our standards.

Best Regards,

Eike Adler

Director Corporate Communications

For further information contact Dr. Shimon Samuels at csweurope@gmail.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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