Historical inaccuracy and ‘human chess’ – Auschwitz Memorial slams Amazon’s Nazi-hunting series
The horrors of the Holocaust are extensive and well documented. However, the writers of Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ evidently needed to make the systematic slaughter of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies and homosexuals even more comically macabre.
The show, which premiered on Amazon Prime on Saturday, stars Al Pacino as a Holocaust survivor turned Nazi hunter, tracking down German war criminals hiding in the US. Flitting between 1970s America and the death camps of World War II, the series claims to be “inspired by true events.”Also on rt.com Last days of hell: 75 years on, death camp survivors recall the Red Army liberation of Auschwitz
One scene features rows of prisoners standing on a life-sized chessboard, as Nazi guards call out moves. Should a ‘piece’ be bumped off the board, he or she is summarily murdered. Such a game never took place.
The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland reacted with anger. “Auschwitz was full of horrible pain and suffering,” the organization tweeted on Sunday. “Inventing a fake game of human chess… is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers.”
Auschwitz was full of horrible pain & suffering documented in the accounts of survivors. Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy. pic.twitter.com/UM2KYmA4cw— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 23, 2020
Online, more commentators hammered Amazon for including the scene. “It’s as tasteless and lurid as 1970s Nazisploitation flicks,” journalist and historian Guy Walters tweeted. “Wasn’t it horrific enough?” asked Holocaust Educational Trust chief Karen Pollock.
I understand that there are already movies and series that depict the Holocaust & quite clearly not documentaries or news footage from the time. Many are very powerful. But this seemed a step too far. Wasn’t it horrific enough? @thetimes https://t.co/gYux2eo6QP— Karen Pollock (@KarenPollock100) February 23, 2020
As Holocaust educators, we will be wasting time for years to come debunking the “death chess” story. This @amazon fiction has more to do with the Saw movies than the lived historical reality. https://t.co/7mYS5vMqeP— Andrew Morris (@devilstrillblog) February 23, 2020
‘Death chess’ scandal aside, ‘Hunters’ has been met with mixed reviews. Vox called it “heavy-handed, weakly written, [and] cringe-inducing.” The Guardian criticized it as a “dangerously insensitive” work that “fetishises the horrors of the Holocaust.” Verge said the show is “good at killing Nazis, and very bad at most other things.”
‘Hunters’ is not the first film or series to tack comic-book violence onto one of the 20th century’s defining tragedies. Released in 1975, ‘Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS’ turned the true story of Ilse Koch, the wife of the real-life commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp, into a blood-soaked and sexualized shocker movie.
The movie popularized the rumor that the Nazis made lampshades from the skin of their victims. After the real-life Ilse Koch was sentenced for war crimes, claims that she skinned victims for this purpose were found by a military court to be baseless. Still, the rumor has persisted to this day, with several collectors claiming to possess such gruesome artifacts.
“We prefer a true story that will lead to a million truths,” the Auschwitz Memorial added on Sunday. “One should not create a fake reality if the details about this reality are so well documented.”
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