Activision Yanks German Wolfenstein Game Over Swastika

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Activision Yanks German Wolfenstein Over Swastika

Because of a symbol, Activision may be recalling all copies of its just released Wolfenstein Xbox 360, PS3, and PC first-person shooter from German retail shelves. The symbol is allegedly a swastika, the cross with arms bent at right angles employed by the German National Socialist German Worker's Party (i.e. Nazis) during World War II. It's of course must older than that, signifying "well-being" among other things, but it's illegal to exhibit a swastika in Germany, thus Activision's opted to go full-on red alert and yank the game from stores.

Blue's News noticed the story at, ran it through Google Translate, and came back with "Activision Blizzard Germany officially calling back all versions of Wolfenstein (PC, 360, PS3), and invites all dealers in Germany to remove the shooter from the shelves and warehouses at the sales outlets."

Apparently someone "monitoring the publisher" noticed a swastika in the game "which is visible only upon closer inspection" and raised the alarm, leading Activision to write:

Although it is not a conspicuous element in the normal game can also best be seen in the short term, we have decided to take this game immediately from the German market.

Some Germans take this stuff seriously. I was having lunch at a north German university a few years ago. A German pensioner approached and asked if I'd mind talking so he could practice his English. Eventually the conversation turned to politics and the aftermath of the war. At one point I made casual reference to Hitler…and the conversation slammed to a halt.

"No," he said, almost spitting, as if I'd asked him for a kiss. "We do not speak his name. You never speak his name."

Take a look at the symbol depicted above. Lines and colors (and in the case of a World War II game, historically accurate lines and colors). Utter gobbledygook without a human to give it significance. Do you control the symbols you use, or do they control you? In Germany, they might control you. That's what the legislation implies, anyway.

It's too bad Activision's not willing (or politically able) to challenge it. Eventually someone will, and our repulsion at what the symbol temporarily stood for last century notwithstanding, let's hope they win.

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