Teespring Apologizes for Selling 'Camp Auschwitz' Shirts Like Those Seen on Capitol Rioters

Teespring has apologized and discontinued sales of clothing that alludes to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The e-commerce company, which allows people to create and sell their own custom apparel, has come under fire for selling shirts like the one worn by a U.S. Capitol rioter last week that read "Camp Auschwitz," a reference to the infamous concentration and extermination camp established by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

Rioters security
Rioters walk around in the Rotunda after breaching the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 202. Getty

Since images of the rioter in the shirt went viral, several news agencies cited sources who identified him as one Robert Keith Packer of Virginia. Below is one of the photos circulating from last Wednesday's riots where the sweatshirt can be clearly seen. The bottom of the shirt reads, "Work brings freedom," which is a translation of the phrase "Arbeit macht frei" that appeared on the real Auschwitz's gates.

Police records show that Robert Keith Packer has three convictions for driving under the influence and another for forging public records
https://t.co/Ss0WiSIl6k

— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) January 11, 2021

It is not known where the protester purchased his hooded top. TeeChip also sold identical hoodies, but removed them from its site the day after the events at the Capitol. People quickly took to social media in the wake of the siege at the Capitol, condemning the companies who sold the anti-Semitic merchandise. Below is one singling out Teespring:

.@teespring Take this shit down. pic.twitter.com/gOyW2crF20

— The Courtesy Bear 🐻 (@curtfsf) January 11, 2021

In a message shared on Twitter on Monday, Teespring began with the following: "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. Hateful content is strictly prohibited and is against our policies and values as a company."

After going into more detail about its policies, the company announced: "Given the nature of this situation, we will also be making a donation to the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial and State Museum to help continue their important work and education."

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. Hateful content is strictly prohibited and is against our policies and values as a company. (1/4)

— Teespring (@teespring) January 11, 2021

However, many people on Twitter were not so quick to forgive Teespring. One user posted what he said was a response he received from the company when he complained about the Auschwitz merchandise months ago. His message was soon shared by others outraged, not only by the company's slow response in removing the apparel, but for it even selling such items in the first place.

They don't care. This is what they sent when I pointed it out months ago: pic.twitter.com/4y0wvghHjT

— freeNac (@free_nac) January 11, 2021

The purported statement from months ago reads that "sellers have full creative rights when launching news designs" as long as they don't violate Teespring's acceptable use policy. Included on the policy, which bars the use of copyrighted images and nudity, are strict guidelines against hate speech and harassment, as well as "content that promotes or glorifies harm or violence to individuals or others."

The older message that the Twitter user alleges is from Teespring further states: "We're sorry you're not a fan of this design, but we're sure you'll find something you love if you utilize the search tool on our homepage."

While some comments on Twitter thanked the company for its statements on Monday, others wondered how printers who saw the design never raised objections before, or why the company apparently ignored past complaints. One user even suggested that a customer vendor list should be given to the FBI.

Newsweek contacted Teespring for further comment—including about the supposed statement that it allegedly provided a customer in the past in response to complaints about anti-Semitic merchandise—but we haven't received a response as of this article's publication.