London, Aug. 29 (Reuters): Jewish groups expressed outrage today that a British company was selling sport shoes with the same name as the Nazi nerve gas used to kill millions of Jews in the Holocaust.
Umbro, the firm that outfits the English national soccer side, said it was an “unfortunate coincidence” that its Zyklon shoe, on sale since 1999, bore the name of the poison gas Zyklon B.
Crystals of Zyklon B were dissolved in gas chambers at the death camps to produce the poison the Nazis used to exterminate millions of Jews and members of other minorities during World War II. “We are sure that the name was not meant to cause any offence,” Umbro spokesman Nick Crook said. “Going forwards we will be investigating the names more thoroughly.”
Megasports, a British sporting goods website, was advertising Umbro’s Zyklon Junior shoes today for £20 .
The accompanying photo showed a white running shoe with a big Umbro logo. Crook said the shoe would be renamed or withdrawn from sale, but he would not say whether shoes already shipped would be removed from store shelves.
The name appears on the box but not on the shoes themselves, and therefore the company had no immediate plans to recall shoes already sold, he said.
Shimon Samuels, international liaison director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, pointed out the name in a letter to the company’s chief executive, Peter McGuigan. The “outrageous misuse of the Holocaust is an insult to victims and survivors, an encouragement to neo-Nazis who terrorise the football terraces and a dishonour to sport itself,” he wrote.