If you’re playing Pokémon Go, would you mind not doing it at Auschwitz? What the hell is wrong with you?
Oh, also, please don’t play it at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, or the World Trade Centre Memorial either.
The Canadian Press reports that there have been reports of people playing the game at Auschwitz – a concentration camp in German-occupied Poland where over a million people died during WW11 (if there’s any chance you actually don’t know that) – and other sombre memorial sites across the world.
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) July 13, 2016
Pokémon Go, if you just woke up from a coma or got back from another dimension this morning (in both cases, congratulations!) is an augmented reality game in which players hunt little virtual creatures with their phones. My friend Joshua who knows these things and wrote about it for the Huffington Post tells me, is a Pokéstop is a place where one can pick up items in the game like balls and eggs. And like many public places, sites, and attractions, the memorials and museums are Pokéstops. From what I’ve seen on Twitter, you can also catch creatures at Auschwitz.
Joshua also says that, before I blame game developers Niantic for putting items in these places, I should know that yes, “Niantic put it there, but presumably by accident as they’re placed in public places and the algorithm (presumably) wasn’t smart enough to figure out what type of museums they are.”
Pawel Sawicki, a spokesperson for the Auschwitz Memorial told the New York Times people are not allowed to play while visiting the camp, “Allowing such games to be active on the site of Auschwitz Memorial is disrespectful to the memory of the victims of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp on many levels.”
He said that Niantic had already been contacted, and asked “not to allow the site of Auschwitz Memorial and other similar sites to be included in the game.” I’m not sure that’s happened with that.
Both the Holocaust Museum and the Arlington Cemetery have also requested that smartphone users refrain from “catching” Pokémon when they visit, according to the Guardian.
Just for the record, they shouldn’t have to request that. You should know better.
Andrew Hollinger, communications director for the museum, said officials were trying to have it removed from the game. He said playing the game inside a memorial to victims of Nazism is ‘extremely inappropriate.’
At Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, spokesman Stephen Smith said the move was pre-emptive rather than to address a problem they’re already seeing.
A Dutch hospital has also reportedly issued an appeal, asking people not to “hunt” Pokémon in the building after several players ventured into restricted areas.
Niantic was apparently unavailable for comment.