To Officials' Dismay, Pokémon Invade Holocaust Sites

Pokémon Go sends players to real-life locations to capture the little creatures, with one being spotted in Auschwitz, while others at Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C

A Pokémon creature pops up in the lobby of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
Screengrab/Washington Post

There are some places even Pokémon shouldn't go, and with the new Pokémon Go craze taking the world by storm, Holocaust sites have not been immune.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. has asked game-players to stop hunting for Pokémon on its premises, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

For the uninitiated, the reference is to Pokémon Go, the new, mobile game in which digital creatures appear on the user's smartphone while visiting or exploring real-world locations.

Only released last week, Pokémon Go has already aroused a media storm, with stories of one player finding a dead body while looking for a Pokémon and thieves using the game to lure their victims.

The museum, it turns out, is one of thousands of locations with PokéStops – places where players can get free in-game items. There are three PokéStops in various parts of the museum.

"Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism," Andrew Hollinger, the museum's communications director, told The Washington Post. "We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game."

Meanwhile, another player claims to have captured a Pokémon creature known as a Rattata at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp located in Poland, according to a report on the New York Magazine website.

According to the magazine's site, the game player saw a “blue square thing” while visiting Auschwitz, indicating that the area could be explicitly marked as a Pokéstop.

If so, it sounds wildly insensitive, though New York Magazine points out that Niantic, the game's developer may not be directly at fault. The game uses location data from Google Maps, it says, and Pokéstop locations are often imported from user suggestions made on a previous Niantic game, Ingress.

"On the other hand, it would be simple to restrict certain areas and prevent Pokémon from appearing in or around them," it says.

Niantic ran into exactly the same problem with Ingress last year, according to the magazine, when it turned out that players could battle for control of real locations, including in the Nazi death camps Auschwitz, Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

At the time, the company said in a statement that, “After we were made aware that a number of historical markers on the grounds of former concentration camps in Germany had been added, we determined that they did not meet the spirit of our guidelines and began the process of removing them in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.”