Nazi terror gang marketed anti-Jewish board game
This game doesn't end well:
The NSU's "Pogromly"
GAMES ARE A PREPARATION for real-life situations. According to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung yesterday, the German neo-Nazi terror trio calling itself the National Socialist Underground designed and marketed an anti-Jewish board game called “Pogromly” as a fundraiser in the late 1990s. Modelled on the classic Monopoly, this game uses a swastika as its starting point and drives imaginary Jews around the board across squares marked with SS runes, concentration camps, gas plants, and a portrait of Adolf Hitler. It uses fake reichsmarks as currency and replaces the white-mustachioed capitalist of the original game with a skeleton dressed in a Nazi uniform.
The game is similar in spirit to the 1930s game Juden raus! (“Jews Out!”, recently featured in an article and video report on the BBC website) and other such board games of that era. The NSU sold only about a dozen of the games at 100 DM (around 50€) each before going underground in 1998. It appears that the venture was not a success, since the trio complained that their business partners were cheating them out of their take.
The firm of Günther & Co.’s original game of Juden raus! from 1936, which was based loosely on the ever-popular Mensch ärgere dich nicht! and had to do with hunting down and concentrating Jews from a walled city at a collection point from which they would be deported to Palestine, was not government propaganda, but rather a profit-making venture by a private games company wishing to exploit the swell of anti-Semitic sentiment that followed the Nuremberg racial laws of 1935. (In fact, Himmler's SS complained that the game trivialized the serious business of expulsion and, ultimately, extermination.) Even so, by making the removal of Jewish neighbors from one’s community appear not only “normal” but also fun, it undoubtedly played at least some role in reducing ordinary people’s resistance to the idea.
The game Juden raus! simulated the
removal of Jews from a small town
(Source: Yad Vashem)
Now this would normally be the point in a blog where author and readers alike are supposed to start tut-tutting about the old Nazis and the new. Evil, evil Nazis! How could otherwise ordinary people be so callous towards their fellow human beings?
Yes, the original Nazis were evil all right, as are their twenty-first century epigones. What a twisted culture. Thank god we're beyond all that! But hold on – what about our own culture today? One of the most popular games on earth right now is Xbox’s “Call to Duty” computer game series, which has sold over 55 million copies. The “Black Ops” edition alone has sold over 12 million. In this “first-person shooter game,” Wikipedia tells us,
the player assumes the role of a foot soldier who can wield various firearms, of which two at a time can be carried; throw grenades and other explosives; and use other equipment as weapons. … [T]he player pilots a Hind helicopter and guides friendly troops from a SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. The campaign features several scripted cinematic moments. One of them is a bullet time effect during the "Victor Charlie" level, activated when the player fires toward the last enemy of a Viet Cong squad.
At one level of the game, players simulate the Bay of Pigs invasion and an assassination attempt on Cuban President Fidel Castro, prompting the following response from the Cuban government:
This new video game is doubly perverse. On the one hand, it glorifies the illegal assassination attempts the United States government planned against the Cuban leader ... and on the other, it stimulates sociopathic attitudes in North American children and adolescents.
The German government, concerned over much of the content, approved only a watered down version with the following edits:
- A scene where an enemy is shot in slow motion with copious amounts of gore has been toned down.
- A torture scene involving a prisoner has been completely eliminated from the German version.
- The song Sympathy for the Devil by Mick Jagger has been removed.
- No explosions that lead to limb loss.
- Removal of what Germany deems 'anti-constitutional symbols'.
Last year, I woke up to discover a five-story advertising poster for “Black Ops” sheathing the building under construction on my street corner here in Berlin. When I caught sight of it, I instantly imagined a sci-fi scenario in which someone wakes up in an alternative reality in which the Nazis won the Second World War and the very same poster is still hanging there, the only difference being that the soldier is wearing an SS uniform and the game is now entitled “Meine Ehre heißt Treue: Einsatzgruppe.” 1
That is, admittedly, a writer’s daydream, and the Cuban notion that such games transform their youthful users into “sociopaths” may be an exaggeration. After all, “Black Ops,” just like Juden raus! and “Pogromly,” are designed for fun. But is there any doubt that video games that simulate the mass murder of human beings desensitize players, either making them willing to tolerate such outrages in distant countries or actually helping prepare them for remote-control killings themselves one day without any fear of consequences to their own lives or those of their families?
In fact, the current US drone war over Afghanistan and Pakistan, which may have killed over 2,000 persons in Pakistan alone since 2004 by Washington’s own estimate, simulates a shooter game, which is itself a technology originally designed to simulate actual combat. There are thus already two steps of removal when it comes to what amounts to shooting fish in a barrel from the other side of the planet. While drone “pilots” sit at their controls in New Mexico, civilians and insurgents in West Asia – most of whom have never even heard of the event we call 9/11 – are terrorized from the air for reasons that make even less sense to them than to the average American voter.2Never before has war been so painless - at least for the side inflicting the pain:
"They're putting a missile down somebody's chimney and taking out bad guys, and the next thing they're taking their wife out to dinner, their kids to school," said Herz, a Ph.D. who interviewed pilots and sensor operators for a doctoral dissertation on human error in Predator accidents. 'A lot of them have told me, 'I'm glad I've got the hour drive.' It gives them that whole amount of time to leave it behind," Herz said. [...] Col. Gregg Davies, commander of the 214th Reconnaissance Group in Tucson, Ariz., said he knows of no member of his team who has experienced any trauma from launching a Predator attack.
Is it "real" or is it some kind of game?
This drone "pilot" is looking forward to that drive
home in order to "decompress." What his "soft targets"
are feeling is anyone's guess.
The concept of zero-risk cynegetic – man-hunt – warfare, which already forms the premise of Juden raus! and Pogromly, has reached its perfect expression in games like Black Ops and in drone warfare. In cynegetic warfare, philosopher Grégoire Chamayou writes,
War becomes pure power of murder. The drone is the emblem of contemporary cynegetic war. It is the mechanical, flying and robotic heir of the dog of war. It creates to perfection the ideal of asymmetry: to be able to kill without being able to be killed; to be able to see without being seen. To become absolutely invulnerable while the other is placed in a state of absolute vulnerability. ‘Predator’, ‘Global Hawk’, ‘Reaper’ – birds of prey and angels of death, drones bear their names well. Only death can kill without ever dying itself. Facing such an enemy, there is no way out. As a T-shirt glorifying American drones stated: ‘You can run, but you’ll only die tired.’
Or if there is collateral damage, it won't
be anyone whose name we'll ever know.
Günther & Co. probably thought they scored a real hit with Juden raus! back in 1936. Will our descendants regard our attitudes and entertainments any more kindly seventy-five years from now? Sometimes I wonder.
1 "My honor is my loyalty," the motto of the SS, Hitler's private army, which was charged with such special tasks as managing concentration camps and hunting down the undesired. Its killing squads were called Einsatzgruppen or "task forces." The SS had severe problems with morale when it came to shooting civilians at close range, and thus created murder factories such as Treblinka and Auschwitz-Birkenau located in occupied territories and staffed by coerced inmates and local volunteers, according to the principle: Out of sight, out of mind.
2 On September 8, 2011 the Wall Street Journal reported:
According to a survey of 15- to 30-year-old men in the two southern provinces where President Barack Obama sent the bulk of American surge troops, 92% of respondents said they didn't know about "this event which the foreigners call 9/11" after being read a three-paragraph description of the attacks.
"Nobody explained to them the 9/11 story—and it's hard to win the hearts and minds of the fighting-age males in Helmand if they don't even know why the foreigners are here," says Norine MacDonald, president of the International Council on Security and Development, the think tank that carried out the survey of 1,000 Afghan men in eight districts of Kandahar and Helmand. "There is a vacuum—and it's being filled by al Qaeda and Taliban propaganda claiming that we are here to destroy Islam."
Some Afghans who do know about the events of 2001 often subscribe to conspiracy theories, imported from Pakistan and Iran, that have long lost currency even in the Middle East.