A first-person shooter video game featuring an Auschwitz death camp revolt has been cancelled by the game's designer due to intense media scrutiny.
The game, called "Sonderkommando Revolt," was created by a Ukranian-born Jew, Maxim Genis, who lives in Israel. It was set to be released in January.
Sonderkommando Revolt features a Jewish protagonist who escapes from Auschwitz and seeks revenge by rescuing Jews and killing high-ranking Nazis. The game is built on the foundation of Wolfenstein 3D and includes graphic depictions of crematoriums, Block 11, gas chambers, and torture areas.
The real-world Sonderkommando was a squad of Jewish prisoners who were forced to work in the crematoria at death camps during the Holocaust. On October 7, 1944, they staged a revolt at Auschwitz using weapons smuggled in from Jewish women outside the camp. Three SS officers died and a crematorium was destroyed during the revolt. The Jewish prisoners who revolted were killed.
Genis says the game's cancellation is a result of negative media attention, which caused him much emotional distress.
"The project is cancelled because I cannot stand media exposure of any kind," he said in a recent interview with Heeb Magazine. "It just killed me emotionally…I can’t eat, barely sleep, can’t work or function."
Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the video game as "horrific and inappropriate," telling Kotaku magazine that although it may be "well-intentioned," the game would be "a crude effort to depict Jewish resistance during this painful period which should never be trivialized."
The ADL added that "The Holocaust should be off-limits for video games. We hope the developers will reconsider and abandon the game."
The game also came under scrutiny from Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who suggested that it could harm people's understanding of history. "What happens if this is the only thing a young person gets to know about the Holocaust or a concentration camp?" he asked Kotaku.
Genis replied that the game was not meant to be a political commentary but simply a game for a small group of Wolf3D mod enthusiasts. He stressed that the free pixilated mod had no anti-Jewish elements or intentions.
Genis told Heeb magazine that he wanted to honor those involved in the revolt and show that the Jews did resist the Nazis. "My intentions were pure and pro-Jewish in every way."
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