A startup, born inside Google, has issued an apology for the inclusion of Nazi concentration camps in its augmented reality game Ingress.
Ingress, developed by Google's Niantic Labs, is a multiplayer mobile game that tasks players with tracking down sources of energy leaking through portals around the globe. Some of those portals were found to be placed inside infamous concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau.
The said portals, according to Google, were situated in controversial locations because of the historic value of the Nazi camps.
German weekly Die Zeit broke the news about the concentration camps being turned into augmented reality playgrounds. The newspaper counted 77 Ingress portals in and near Sachsenhausen, where approximately 30,000 detainees died as a result of the harsh conditions inside the camp.
The director of the Sachsenhausen Memorial, Günter Morsch, said everyone who is part of the site's foundation is appalled that the location, along with other Nazi camps, was included in a game. Sachsenhausen is definitely no place for games, Morsch stated.
Jean-Michel Thomas, president of the Comité Internationale de Dachau, shared Morsch's outrage.
"We strongly object to parts of the Dachau concentration camp being chosen as locations for the video game Ingress," said Thomas. "We demand that this desecration be banned."
Niantic Labs' chief John Hanke apologized for the offense in a statement.
"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," Hanke stated. "We apologize that this happened."
Rabbi Avraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was in Europe visiting memorials at the sites of the concentration camps when news of Ingress' use of the camp sites came to light. The rabbi pointed to the youth and the lack of "historical perspective" for Ingress' infractions.
"There are a lot of young people out there, maybe including the people running some important companies, who lack some basic grounding in history," Rabbi Cooper said. "It's not the technology per se that worries me; it's the lack of historical perspective and depth, and quite frankly the lack of values and ethics."