Friday, 15 March 2013

Zippo Pulls Offensive Lighters Sold by Neo-Nazis

Zippo’s German distributor has pulled a number of lighters after discovering that they were being sold through an extremist website that promotes anti-Semitism.

Zippo Manufacturing Co. explains that they were completely unaware that the militaristic designs featured on the lights in question had any offensive connotation and apologized for bringing them to market.
One of the lighters pictures a soldier with the word “Landser”, which is an old German word for infantryman, but apparently also the name of a German neo-Nazi rock band. Landser (the band) has members that have been convicted of hate crimes about 10 years ago.
Some of the other lighters depict an iron cross; a German military decoration first awarded in the 19th century and appropriated by Hitler.
"The images on the lighters are typical of German right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis, though not so typical of their American counterparts, who are more free to directly use Nazi imagery," said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League.
The website carrying the offensive Zippo lighters is called Versand der Bewegung (Distributor of the Movement). They carry other neo-Nazi memorabilia and clothing including T-shirts that read “Nazis Out- Out of Jail” and an anti-Israel blurbs.
"There was no conscious understanding at all by anybody at our German distributor that this was connected with a skinhead group," said Zippo’s general counsel, Jeff Duke.
"They were terribly mortified when they found out about it and immediately took steps to withdraw it from the market."
"When we found out about this, we were very upset," Duke said.
"We told (Zippo GmbH) to get these out of the marketplace and make darn sure it doesn't happen again."
Nazi imagery is illegal in Germany.


The Zippo Manufacturing Company was created by George Blaisdell in Bradford, PA, in 1932. Possibly Blaisdell wanted the sound of the word 'zipper,' and considered 'Zippo' was modern and hi-tech. Inspired by an Austrian lighter which advertised for being windproof, Blaisdell improved upon on the design and style, building a product basically the same as the Zippo we know these days.
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