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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Fury over Nazi gas sports shoe name
A sportswear firm is to review policies after learning that one of its trainers was given the same name as a gas used by the Nazis to kill people in the concentration camps.

The Zyklon trainer provoked outrage from Jewish groups, prompting manufacturer Umbro to apologise for the mistake and "regret any offence caused".

Zyklon B crystals were used to exterminate millions of Jewish people across Europe as part of Hitler's Nazi regime.


Commercial appropriation of words carrying connotations of mass murder is utterly unacceptable

Dr Stephen Smith, Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre
Umbro, which makes the England football kit, said the use of the name was "purely coincidental" and not designed to have any connotations.

Dr Shimon Samuels, of international human rights organisation the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said in a letter to Umbro that its "outrageous misuse of the Holocaust is an insult to its victims and survivors".

Dr Stephen Smith, co-founder of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, said: "Commercial appropriation of words carrying connotations of mass murder is utterly unacceptable.

"Considering the care with which companies normally choose titles for their products, I also find it hard to believe Umbro's assertion that the naming of the shoe was 'purely coincidental'.

'Innocent' mistake

"Any investigation of the word, on the internet for example, quickly reveals its links to the Holocaust."

Nick Crook, from Umbro, said: "We regret that there are people who are offended by the name."

Jews at Auschwitz concentration camp
Zyklon B was used at Auschwitz
Umbro said the Zyklon name, which was chosen by a designer in the firm's footwear department, had been on the side of boxes for the trainer since its launch in 1999, but does not appear on the shoe itself.

Mr Crook said: "I don't think the person who named them knew what it would mean to some people.

"I can tell you it wasn't chosen deliberately for its unfortunate meaning."

"I think in future we will be checking the names we use more carefully."

Zyklon B was originally used as an insecticide but found to turn into a lethal gas when its crystals were exposed to the air.

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