Open Letter to Walmart on Camp Dachau Gate Poster


Dear Walmart,
It’s me, Warren.
I noticed you have beenmarketingon your website a black and white picture suitable for framing.For the bargain price of only $52.25, your loyal customers can now purchase a poster-size photograph of the front gate of Camp Dachau in Bavaria, Germany with its (in)famous inscriptionArbeit Macht Frei(Work Will Set You Free), which you declare”would make a great addition to your home or office.”

Credit: Creative Commons

So let me try to understand your psychology here. Are you employing the behavioral technique of negative reinforcement? Possibly, if we see the Dachau gate hanging in our bedroom when we first rise in the morning, we will be truly grateful to have the job we go to work to perform instead of the toil Jews and others were forced to carry out at Camp Dachau. Is that what we are supposed to take away from this? Or if we see the poster hanging in our work space, maybe we will more fully adhere to the Protestant work ethic by laboring as hard as we can right now, so we will be financially set in retirement one day? So, are you attempting to emphasize deferred gratification?
You do know don’t you that Camp Dachau was not like the Jewish camps in upstate New York? To have the opportunity of escaping the hot and crowded city and spend the summer at Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel near Liberty, New York, for example, people had to work throughout the year. In this sense, work set them free to vacation. The opposite (well, actually the lie) was the case at Camp Dachau. If you were not aware, Grossinger’s was a vacation spot, whereas Dachau was a concentration camp.
At Grossinger’s, guests may have concentrated on improving their Bridge or Mahjong game, or on losing some weight playing sports, swimming, and hiking. At Camp Dachau, there were no “guests.” Nazis (you might remember them) forced people from their homes onto transport trainswhere many did not survive the trip. At the camp, guards “concentrated” them, thousands upon thousands, into over-packed filthy disease-laden barracks. Oh yes, Walmart, they too lost weight – actually all of their body fat and much of their muscle mass, until they either starved, worked to death, or were shot.
Hey, maybe you would like to find some pictures of the skeletal corpses to hang in your stores in the pharmacy section above your diet aid products. Or, I’m sure you can also locate pictures of Nazi S.S. officers publically humiliating orthodox Jewish men by plucking out their whiskers to the laughing German onlookers. You can hang these posters in your shaving products sections.
Hey, I know. Maybe the Nazis took photographs of the 2100 Jews, including my family members, forced to dig a mass grave in Krosno, Poland before they shot them. You can tack that poster above your garden supplies in your stores.
But no, it just occurred to me! Writing down this letter, I now realize your true motives for selling Camp Dachau. You want to emphasize that much of the merchandise you purchase comes from overseas companies that employ virtual or even actual slave labor, at salaries far below people’s basic needs, and sold in your stores by a woefully underpaid and exploited workforce.Wow, I now get it!
So, Walmart, I have a suggestion for you. Rather than making us guess your motives for selling the poster of a Nazi concentration camp gate, just come out and honestly confide to the public your true business practices. Honesty is always the best (business) policy!
P.S. Hey, Walmart, maybe you actually took my suggestion because I noticed on your website that you are no longer selling yourArbeit Macht Freiposter. Too many negative comments sent your way? Or did you “sell out”?
P.P.S. I’ve noticed that Amazon is still selling the Poster on itswebsite, so: Dear Amazon, It’s me Warren….

Credit: Creative Commons


6 thoughts on “Open Letter to Walmart on Camp Dachau Gate Poster

  1. This hit me– right in the pit of my stomach. To think that Walmart would stoop so low is beyond my comprehension. Yet there it is in black and white — all to our shame. Thank you for exposing this in your piercing satire, Mr. Blumenfeld. I am a unionist (30 years working for NYS teachers’ union) so I have always boycotted their slave-market stores.

  2. Thank you for this. I hadn’t known about it. I still don’t know how to absorb that they would do this. I’ll work on it.

  3. Thanks for the letter. I went to Dachau in 1978 and think about that one visit many a day. Wal-Mart seems to think that taking something out of its original context makes it palatable.

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