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Ravensbrück concentration camp (illustration)
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Holocaust video game pulled
Protest from Jewish organizations causes Maxim Genis to withdraw SonderKommando Revolt whose aim is to escape camp, kill Nazi soldiers

Programmer Maxim Genis has decided to withdraw his Shoah-based video game following widespread protest against the use of the Holocaust as a backdrop to this kind of activity.

 

The video game, titled Sonderkommando Revolt and set during a violent prisoner uprising at the Auschwitz death camp, was created by the Israeli video game developer using the real-world uprising at Auschwitz in October 1944 as the backdrop for the game.

 

"I created it so that people could play, and not out of some kind of agenda," Genis told Yedioth Aharonoth. "From my point of view, the game doesn't make any kind of declaration; it's just for the challenge and for enjoyment. In my opinion it's a kind of art but sadly not everyone understands art."

 

Genis, who is responsible for the electronics lab at the Ort Braude College in Carmiel, came to Israel from the Ukraine 20 years ago. He says he learned about the subject from his father, whose relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. But according to Genis, this had no effect on the game.

 

He says he worked on the game for four years. "Many people supported me, and said it was possible to learn about the Holocaust via the game, but the game cannot take the place of historical studies," he says. "A Jew who tries to escape the camp and kill as many Nazis as he can on the way – it's not bad, but the aim is to escape, not to kill Nazis. You kill Nazis only at higher levels of difficulty."

 

'Horrific and inappropriate'

Before the decision to pull the game was taken, the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group whose goal is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all," called the game "horrific and inappropriate" in an interview with Kotaku, a video game blog.

 

The group said the Holocaust "should be off-limits for video games," and expressed its hope that the developers would reconsider and abandon the game.

 

The developer used the original Wolfenstein 3D engine for this game, indicating that the game is a very low budget affair. Wolfenstein 3D, released in 1992, has been credited with popularizing the first-person shooter genre.

 

Similar to Sonderkommando Revolt, Wolfenstein 3D put the player in the role of a hero out to kill as many Nazi's as possible, and ultimately, Hitler.

 

"This rudimentary video game is an offensive portrayal of the Holocaust." said the ADL spokesperson. "With its unnecessarily gruesome and gratuitous graphics, it is a crude effort to depict Jewish resistance during this painful period which should never be trivialized."

 

Benjamin Tovias and Stephen Arbib contributed to this report

 

 

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