What’s in a Name? German Town Tries to Shutter Store with Name Like Norwegian Murderer

The controversial naming of a new Thor Steinar clothing store spurred outrage in Germany and Norway.

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Thor Steinar Website

Screenshot of apparel from the Thor Steinar brand

A German clothing brand popular with neo-Nazis is facing a backlash in the eastern German city of Chemnitz over the name of its latest outlet: the store name “Brevik” comes perilously close to that of a self-confessed mass murderer — Anders Behring Breivik of Norway.

Retailer Thor Steinar, which has run afoul of German authorities before, said the store was named after a town south of Oslo and it noted that it had already opened a store by the same name in Hamburg in 2008.

But that was three years before Breivik bombed government buildings and went on a rampage at a political summer camp, killing 77 people in Norway’s worst massacre. Breivik, who has been diagnosed by court-appointed psychiatrists with paranoid schizophrenia, published a far-right militant manifesto at the time of the attack.

(MORE: Lacoste Wants Anders Behring Breivik to Stop Wearing Its Clothes)

German paper Die Welt reported that German politicians are fretting over how the store could taint the city’s reputation. A state lawmaker with the center-left Social Democratic Party told the daily that the name may indicate a “new quality in the aggression, right-wing extremism and capacity of violence of Thor Steinar.”

City spokeswoman Katja Uhlemann told Die Welt the name was out of the question. “We have already contacted the landlord and will plan every step necessary to shut down this business as quickly as possible.”

Spiegel Online points out that Chemnitz is located in the state of Saxony, a region known for neo-Nazi activity. A neighboring town recently discovered that a notorious right-wing terrorist group that murdered 10 people had been based there for more than a decade.

Thor Steinar apparel has been banned from Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. Norway meanwhile has tried to dissociate itself from the brand.

According to the local Freie Presse newspaper, the Norwegian embassy in Berlin has asked Thor Steinar brand not to use Norwegian town names. The paper said Norway had also sought to curtail the use of the Norwegian flag in the retailer’s logo but has been unable to find a legal way to enforce a ban.

PHOTOS: Anders Behring Breivik, the Extremist Behind Norway’s Tragedy