A California-based footwear maker has issued a recall after it was discovered one of their boots left what appear to be multiple swastikas in its footprint.
The controversy began after a customer posted a photo on Reddit Monday of the imprint left by his new Polar Fox men’s military style winter boot.
“There was an angle I didn’t get to see when ordering my new work boots,” the user said in the thread, which quickly became one of the most popular on the site with over 5,000 comments.
The Polar Fox boots are manufactured by Conal International Trading, a footwear manufacturer based out of City of Industry, Calif.
The boots retailed on Amazon for US$38.99.
“That was totally something that wasn’t intentional or anything like that,” Conal International Trading’s e-commerce manager, Anthony Nguyen, told the Daily Mail.
“It’s something that we’re going to pull off the shelves obviously. It was obviously a design flaw.”
German magazine Stern noted another unfortunate connection with Nazi Germany: the boot’s name.
During the Second World War, Operation “Polar Fox” (In German: Unternehmen Polarfuchs) was a joint German/Finnish military operation carried out in 1941, intended to capture the strategically important Soviet city of Murmansk.
Combined with the boots designation as “military boots,” the connotation was a little too much in the minds of both consumers and, eventually, Conal themselves.
According to the United States Holocaust Museum, the symbol dates back thousands of years before the time of Hitler’s Third Reich. The word “swastika” is itself a derivative of the Sanskrit word “svastika” meaning “good fortune” or “well-being.”
In the early 20th century the symbol was appropriated by Germany’s Nazis to represent the pure German or “Aryan” bloodline.
“Obviously [their intention] is something we have ask the designers,” Nguyen said in his statement to the Daily Mail. “That symbol existed before the swastika in Buddhism.”