Germany lifts ban on swastika, Hitler mustache in Wolfenstein video game

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is seen without a mustache in the German version of the video game “Wolfenstein II.”

Computer and video games featuring Nazi symbols such as the swastika can now be sold in Germany uncensored after a regulatory body lifted the longstanding ban.

With few exceptions, Germany maintains a blanket ban on the public display of symbols associated with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

Exempt are academic studies, historical exhibits, theater and films.

Previously, swastikas were replaced with a neutral triangular symbol and Hitler was depicted without a mustache in the German edition of the game, which is based around an alternate reality in which the Nazis won World War II.

The lifting of the ban on Nazi symbols, if used in a "socially adequate" way, was announced by a German industry group on Thursday.

Now they will be able to hand them in - as long as they point out that they contain unconstitutional symbols - and the USK's independent classification committees will then decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow the games to go on sale.

Elisabeth Secker, USK's managing director, detailed the new approach, saying, "Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating".

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"The ruling doesn't change the general ban on Nazi symbols".

Wolfenstein is a series of computer games that originated in the early 1980s in which players battle against Nazi German forces in an alternative universe.

Some may have found it unusual that Germany, a country that is known for taking a firm stand against resurgences of its past political climate, would place heavy restrictions on a game series such as Wolfenstein. In the German version of more recent Wolfenstein games, for example, Hitler becomes Herr Heiler and sports a bare upper lip.

The German games industry welcomed the decision.

"Now, games that deal responsibly with hard subjects are gaining acceptance", he said.

They want video games to be treated with the same laws as films - where Nazi imagery is allowed because movies are "a work of art" [via Telegraph] - and now they've finally got their wish.

The change of rules has no immediate impact on games such as Wolfenstein that are now on sale.

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