The current site of the former Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp is many things. Among them: a memorial, a museum, and a place of solemn remembrance. What it is not, obviously, is a place to play Pokemon Go.
Nevertheless, people are playing Pokemon Go at Auschwitz. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is understandably a little ticked off about this, and has banned visitors from searching the augmented reality world of Pokemon while visiting the memorial, according to The Daily Beast.
“We think that 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 and is absolutely inappropriate,” memorial spokesperson Pawel Sawicki told the Beast. “It should not be active at our Memorial but also at other memorials and Holocaust museums.”
Other memorials such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. have also spoken out against the lighthearted game. In the D.C. Museum, players allegedly found a Koffing Pokémon hovering around an auditorium showing the testimonials of gas chamber survivors. The Arlington National Cemetery had enough people stumbling over graves and tossing Pokeballs that it felt compelled to tweet that Pokemon Go is not appropriate decorum on the grounds of ANC.” Or the 9/11 Memorial, which is a full-on PokeStop:
Augmented reality knows no bounds, and the game’s creator, Niantic, hasn’t figured out a way to reel it in (or knows how, but hasn’t told anyone yet). Respect and empathy are the only things between Pokemon Go fanatics and a Magicarp flopping in the Twin Towers Memorial Pool, which is to say plenty of people have gone right ahead and snapped up that Magicarp.
With the game’s debut in Germany today, it’s Europe’s turn to have its solemn locations defiled by swarms of Pidgeys, Zubats, and the trainers-turned-friends who want to catch them.
It’s been Pokemon’s world for over a week now, but it’s about time we start learning how to live in it.