Google put Nazi death camps and concentration camps in Ingress, a multiplayer augmented reality game in which people fight for control of virtual portals in a larger battle for control of the entire Earth.
Google Puts Auschwitz And Other Nazi Death Camps In Mobile Phone Game, Drawing Condemnation
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Would you like to fight for control of Auschwitz, not to liberate it but to own it as a prize?
If so, Google’s Ingress mobile phone game is just what you’re looking for, and that has angered Jewish leaders and Holocaust historians alike.
Google put Nazi death camps and concentration camps in Ingress, a multiplayer augmented reality game in which people fight for control of virtual portals in a larger battle for control of the entire Earth, USA Today reported.
Players are allowed include locations like monuments and landmarks of their own choosing, but cannot do so until Google approves – which it did for sites like Auschwitz, Dachau and Sachsenhausen, according to the German weekly Die Zeit.
"All of us here are completely appalled. This is most definitely no place for video games,” Günter Morsch, the head of the Sachsenhausen Memorial, reportedly told Die Zeit.
Google – which is notorious in Web publisher circles for arbitrary advertising bans issued against Web publishers for alleged misbehavior without explanation or recourse – reportedly said the locations were added to its game because they were of "significant historical value." And while it apologized for including the death camps and concentration camps, it reportedly did not answer questions posed to it about that process.
Ingress is made by Niantic Labs, a startup housed inside Google and run by John Hanke, who created Google Earth, Google Maps and its street view feature.
"After we were made aware that a number of historical markers on the grounds of former concentration camps in Germany had been added, we determined that they did not meet the spirit of our guidelines and began the process of removing them in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. We apologize that this happened,” Hanke reportedly said in a statement.
But Google itself did not respond to questions from USA TODAY about this problem. It did not answer why it approved the locations, how many of these inappropriate locations were approved, or when they would actually be removed from Ingress – behavior familiar to Web publishers the world over who have tried to deal with Google’s behavior.
Jewish leaders said Google’s inclusion of the death camps in Ingress trivialized the Holocaust.
"The more our society engages in Holocaust trivialization, the more it is likely for us to see this phenomenon: that even concentration camps become the subject of games. It's sad, it is very sad. And unless we educate about the lessons of the Holocaust, this will continue to get worse. We need to continue to teach about why so many of America's best gave their lives not only to protect freedom, but to stand against the bestiality and brutality of racist supremacy,” Abraham H. Foxman, the retiring national director of the Anti-Defamation League who is a Holocaust survivor himself reportedly said.
Rabbi Avraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was "disturbing" that Google would include these sites in a game.
"There are a lot of young people out there, maybe including the people running some important companies, who lack some basic grounding in history. It's not the technology per se that worries me, it's the lack of historical perspective and depth, and quite frankly the lack of values and ethics,” Cooper told USA Today, adding that he would be happy to put together a week-long trip to visit the Nazi death camps and concentration camps for Google and Ingress managers. "They could spend the week in Europe at Auschwitz and Dachau and see what [those sites] actually represented," Cooper said.