Clearing the air regarding controversial sponsor Hoelzer Reich
There have been many articles written on various websites and message boards around the Internet that have done nothing but try to hurt the reputation of the Hoelzer Reich clothing line.
Most of the reports have accused the company of promoting Nazism and racism. Neither of these accusations are true and I find them to be disturbing and irresponsible. To automatically associate German colors and military imagery with Nazism is a disrespect to the history of that country which is rooted far deeper than World War II.
In order to make such accusations you better have truth. You need to go straight to the source and allow them a chance to tell their side of the story instead of posting erroneous comments.
Initially I had just intended on putting together an article with information from Jamie Vine, one of the Hoelzer Reich owners. However, after such a prompt and detailed response I will just copy and paste the e-mail to share it with you all.
It is important to allow people to tell their side of the story. So here is Jamie Vine explaining Hoelzer Reich’s mission and detailing some of the unexpected issues they have come across. I would like to thank Jamie and Hoelzer Reich for being very easy to communicate with and very prompt with responses. It greatly appreciated.
Here is the email:
Cage Pages: A lot of the internet media is criticizing Hoelzer Reich. In fact, Cagewriter on Yahoo! Sports wrote, “If you thought you saw some disturbing imagery in the Octagon on Saturday night, your eyes did not deceive you. In his loss to Marc Bocek, Joe Brammer wore a walk-in shirt from Hoelzer Reich, a clothing company who has come under fire for having Nazi-esque symbols on their clothing.” How would you respond to those comments?
Hoelzer Reich: In regards to the comment Maggie wrote, the walk out shirt we custom designed for Joe Brammer that was worn on Saturday can be described as nothing but positive. The shirt design was based on blasting Joe Brammer’s name and nickname on the shirt, recognizing his other 14 sponsors, mixed in with our theme “Strength & Honor”on the side, and printed with the current German Flag colors. The iron crosses on the top of the shirt are also part of the design, that represent honor, courage, and leadership. It was a military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia, and later of Germany, which was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and first awarded on 10 March 1813 in Breslau. I do not see anything on the Joe Brammer shirt that could be deemed ‘offensive.’
CP: The iron cross seems to be the focus of much criticism, however, it is a symbol of courage, honor, and leadership. What led you to use the images you have selected for the clothing line?
HR: The imagery and symbols used in our clothing line were chosen and referenced from several German and Prussian Military themes, based on our interest of WW1 and WW2 Germany. The Iron Cross, the Prussian Helmet, the German Military collar, and the Peaked Cap are some of the images we referenced. We [of course] removed any swastika’s and ‘SS’ bolts, for the meaning of the German / Prussian soldier to us represents strength & honor, the theme of our line.
CP: Did you ever imagine such a negative response to the t-shirts?
HR: No, we never expected such a negative response. We knew that basing a clothing line on German imagery would most definitely get a reaction, but with our family heritage, using Jed’s Great Great Grandfathers name (Hoelzer), and the long history behind the imagery referenced, we did not think the accusations and comments being made would get this out of hand.
Over the last few weeks, we have realized that the general public’s sensitivity to our clothing line that has some references of historical German imagery has offended some people, and caused them to make quite the fuss about it on the forums, which has become quite the discussion in the MMA community. The imagery that we reference dates back hundreds of years before Nazi Germany, and we did not realize that the brief association some of the imagery had with Nazi Germany over 70 years ago would still be so sensitive to so many people. Bottom line: we NEVER meant to offend ANYONE. We do not support the Neo Nazi “cause,” nor do we promote any racist ideologies.
We have removed several of our tshirts from the website, and we will be no longer using the imagery that has clearly been deemed ‘offensive.’ Hoelzer Reich will always represent our German heritage, and we will continue our business selling tshirts that represent our theme, Strength & Honor.” We truly enjoy sponsoring MMA fighters and helping them out financially to achieve their dreams as a professional fighter. We love designing signature shirts and walkout shirts for our fighters, and being involved with their careers.
CP: There has been some confusion over whether or not you sponsored the controversial band, Westwall. Can you clear that up at all?
HR: Sure. Yes, in July, we did send a box of t-shirts to the band Westwall. Weather you want to call it a “sponsorship,” a “gift,” or however else the forums have rumored it be, it was only a few t-shirts sent to a band that we were in contact with. As a thank you to us, they emailed us some nice pictures of them in the gear. We posted the picture on our sites, and wrote a little thank you underneath and a link to their myspace music page. That’s it. We never sent them money, or were involved with them beyond that. Ed from Westwall generously made a formal statement to try and end the accusations of Hoelzer Reich having anything to do with the rumored “Neo Nazi or Northern Hammerskins.” His statement says:
“Westwall is a non-political band that deals with topics about history and plays what we call a form of “War Metal”. Westwall does not discriminate against anyone. We welcome any and all to our shows and have had many people of different backgrounds come to our shows and have a good time.
True, one of the members played in a “controversial” band at one time very many years ago. However, that was in the past. Unlike some popular musicians today that have criminal records and have been involved in murders and drugs over the years, these same people also have some really controversial lyrics in their past music. Yet they are treated as “groundbreakers” and heroes of today……
As to the flak that Hoelzer Reich has been catching over our band. The fine people at Hoelzer Reich heard our music, enjoyed it and sent us a free box of shirts. We in turn wore them for a photo shoot and sent them the pictures. Nothing more, nothing less!!! They did not send us any money to wear these shirts, they have nothing to do with our band and have nothing to do with the concerts/shows we play. All they know/knew of us is what they had heard on the Westwall cds. And I can’t blame them for enjoying this kick-ass band!! And you are more than welcome to look up the lyrics of Westwall and form your own opinion, also please look at our artwork. Do you see anything to merit the slander we are getting? Do you see anything offensive at all?” -Ed Wolbank
CP: If you could sum up Hoelzer Reich’s mission, how would you explain the goal of the company?
HR: The goal of Hoelzer Reich Clothing is to sell bad ass shirts and apparel, that represent Strength & Honor, and represent our German heritage. We also love supporting MMA fighters by sponsoring their fights, and helping them out financially through the sales of signature tshirts. Hoelzer Reich Clothing is not racist in any way, nor do we sell, advertise, or have any connections with Neo Nazi’s, Northern Hammerskins, or any other group that has a negative cause.
CP: Anything else you want the readers to know?
HR: Hoelzer Reich Clothing would like to thank the MMA community and all of our loyal customers for the continued support, and a special thanks to all of our fighters that represent HR. Joe Brammer competed in his first UFC bout at “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale” this past weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada at the The Palms Casino Resort. Joe Brammer has been given the opportunity to fight in the worlds largest MMA organization in the world The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Brammer was pitted against the UFC veteran and BJJ Black Belt Mark Bocek. It was a fight exciting enough to make its way on to the live telecast. Unfortunately, Joe lost to his opponent on December 5th, but he displayed the Strength & Honor of a true UFC warrior. It was an honor to watch him compete, and we would like to send our thanks out to Zuffa, the UFC, and the Palms Casino and resort for the opportunity to be involved with the event.
Again, we never meant to offend anyone, or create any controversy in the media. We look forward to introducing several new designs into our line, along with several more signature items for our HR fighters. Strength & Honor.
Owner, Hoelzer Reich Clothing