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This Is How Germany Censored Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

The Wolfenstein series has pit players against mad scientists and Nazis since 1981, unless those fans lived in Germany. When Wolfenstein 3D was released in 1992, Germany already had strict laws designed to protect children from violent and offensive imagery. Wolfenstein 3D caused such an uproar that Germany made it a criminal offense to depict symbols and imagery from "unconstitutional organizations"–which meant Nazis. Section 86a of the German Criminal Code effectively banned the Wolfenstein series from the country.

In 2014, Wolfenstein's new publisher, Bethesda, came up with a workaround: the company would release a separate German version of their upcoming Wolfenstein: The New Order with all references to Nazis removed. Three years later, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus released, but this game actually depicted Adolf Hitler. Rather than remove him, the German version used an awkward workaround.

The negative reception to The New Colossus's censorship led Germany to relax their censorship law in 2018. Now, games with Nazi imagery can be submitted  for review on a case-by-case basis. Wolfenstein: Youngblood was released as-is in Germany in 2019 with an accompanying age restriction label.

Here's how Bethesda made a game about bashing Nazis without acknowledging that they are, in fact, Nazis.

Nazis who aren't really "Nazis"

Swastikas were the first issue. Since The New Colossus takes place in an alternate version of 1961 America that has been conquered by the Nazis, the world is covered in swastikas. In the German version, Bethesda replaced the swastikas with a triangular sigil.

The bigger problem was how to pretend the character of Adolf Hitler isn't really Adolf Hitler. The plot of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus involves Hitler producing a propaganda film called "The End of Evil." In one cutscene, Hitler barges in on a few actors auditioning to play B.J. Blazkowicz, the hero of the previous Wolfenstein games. Hitler is depicted as a paranoid, shouty lunatic who waves a Luger around.

The German version of the scene plays out exactly the same way, just with another insane German leader who strongly resembles Hitler. This not-Hitler has shaved his signature square mustache. He uses the title "The Chancellor" instead of "The Führer." And his name isn't Hitler, it's "Heiler."

"Heiler" sounds like it was derived from the "Heil Hitler" salute, but it actually is a real German surname. It's still not fooling anyone, but at least Bethesda didn't go with "Mr. Hilter."