An Australia-based watchdog recently demanded that Amazon stop selling "Secret Hitler," a top-rated board game recommended on several "best holiday gift" lists. In the game, players vie for the position of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
"Using Hitler as part of a board game whitewashes his inhuman crimes, is very unpleasant and shows that today many still do not understand the inexpressible horrors of the Holocaust," Dvir Abramovich, chairman of Australia's Anti-Defamation Commission, said in a statement.
"It's deeply troubling that Amazon Australia is offering a public platform for Hitler's name to be revived and standardized, and reaching a new generation of young people who might think it's cool to play this game. We call on society to immediately stop selling it," said Abramovich.
Though the group from Melbourne sent the request on Friday only to Amazon in Australia, the product is sold worldwide. They asked the retail giant to "show respect to the survivors" of the Holocaust, noting that the complaint stemmed from a person "whose father lost his parents, four siblings, as well as his nieces and nephews in Auschwitz."
"This is no laughing matter and is beneath contempt," Abramovich said in the statement. "It is an insult to the memory of the victims and our courageous soldiers who sacrificed their lives to vanquish the Third Reich. With each passing day, we are hitting new lows when it comes to the cheapening, exploitation and vulgarization of the Holocaust. What will they think of next: a game where a player is given the chance to execute Jews in the open field or push them into the gas chambers?"
Desensitizing Kids to Nazi Horrors
To play "Secret Hitler," touted on Amazon as "a dramatic game of political intrigue and betrayal set in 1930's Germany," players become either liberal or fascist in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. Through "lying to one's friends," factions compete to enact liberal and fascist policies. Either the liberals get into power or Hitler's fascists.
At press time, a whopping 96% of the 1,446 customers who rated the game on Amazon's U.S. site gave it four to five stars.
A reviewer on Amazon named "Sargon," who gave the game five stars, wrote that he was introduced to "Secret Hitler" during a high school retreat.
He explained how "excited" everyone was to play.
"[W]e all get seriously into it, shouting expletives at each other so loud that the entire complex can hear it and all that... The cards are passed out and I'm Hitler, its my first time. I proceed to have the most fantastic match as Hitler ever witnessed, I was trusted by all the liberals and had even rooted out some fascists on purpose.... After about five minutes of people begging the president to give me the chancellorship, we finally voted on me and I jumped up yelling 'DEUTSCHLAND' and I had pulled off the most perfect match ever."
The high school senior added that his success in the game gained him social acceptance among his peers, explaining, "Two weeks later, a guy holds the Secret Hitler game at his house, needless to say I hit it off very well with the group and become more or less of an official member."
The game's process is eerily similar to how Hitler actually recruited youth in Nazi Germany, a process that ultimately resulted in the cold-blooded murder of 6 million Jews and 14 million members of other groups and nationalities.
The game came in second on the "50 Best-Selling Board Games of 2019" list, according to The Gamer, a top video-game website. It also was recommended in the "Holiday Gift Guide 2019" by Birth.Movies.Death., a magazine and website covering films and the entertainment industry in general.
"[G]uess which one of your friends is Hitler! The game is played like Mafia except instead of townspeople and mafia it's liberals and fascists. The liberals have to enact progressive legislation and root out the fascists before they can elect their own Hitler," says the Birth.Movies.Death. review.
"I'm sure some of my lefty friends can easily tinker with it and make it more relatable to modern US politics, but if you don't want to piss off your racist Uncle at the family reunion it might be safer to stick with the classics," the review adds.
Bustle included it on its "50 Most Entertaining Gifts On Amazon According To Thousands Of Reviewers."
The game was created following a 2015 kickstarter campaign in which over 34,000 donors contributed $1.5 million.
Though it does not have any blatant Nazi symbols or images of Hitler, it was updated in 2017 to include cards with the image of U.S. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump administration.
A 2017 YouTube video shows the makers of the game packing and sending it to every member of the U.S. Senate. Included was a note that read, "Although our game takes place in 1933 Germany, we thought you and your staff might find our game relevant as you negotiate the balance of power with the Trump White House."
Appallingly, the Softonic website posted details on "How to create your own Secret Hitler game for free" seemingly in anticipation of the game's removal from Amazon.
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