South Park’s German Version Delayed Due To The Nazis

By John Walker on March 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Here’s a very odd thing. South Park: The Stick Of Truth will not be available in Germany or Austria on Friday after all. Because Ubisoft left the swastikas in. A note on the German Steam page for the game states, “The Stick of Truth contains an unconstitutional symbol which means that we are unfortunately not able to release the game on the German and Austrian market at this time.” Which is all the more odd, since Ubi told VG247 last week that they were already on top of this.

German law prevents the depiction of Nazi symbols via Strafgesetzbuch section 86a. It states that “symbols of unconstitutional organisations” may not be used, and carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine. So when reviewing the game last week, and noticing the rather abundant use of swastikas on the game’s many Nazi zombies, VG247′s Dave Cook smartly got in touch with Ubi to find out what was happening there. They replied saying,

“With regards to the German version, all Nazi symbols have been removed from the game in accordance with German law.”

That made sense. So it’s very strange to see today that the German Steam store page says that the game isn’t coming out Friday as planned. The statement in full reads:

“Notice: We’re sorry to inform you that we are unable to deliver your pre-ordered version of South Park: The Stick of Truth on March 6th as initially planned. The German and Austrian version of South Park: The Stick of Truth contains an unconstitutional symbol which means that we are unfortunately not able to release the game on the German and Austrian market at this time. This concerns all versions/platforms of the game. There is no need to amend or cancel your pre-order. A new release date of South Park: The Stick of Truth for the German and Austrian market will be announced shortly, and we will ensure that your order is delivered to coincide with this new date.

We are extremely sorry for the additional waiting time, and thank you for your understanding.”

German site Gamestar reports that German wholesalers are claiming that the physical versions shipped to them are the uncensored US version, although this might be due to a mistake made in the disc pressing plants, and seems to relate to the PS3 disc. It’s hard to see how that relates to a digital build, but of course this aspect is currently based on forum rumours rather than anything concrete.

South Park is out now in the States, tomorrow in Australia, and most of Europe on Friday. We reviewed it over here, and found it to be a potentially good game, in need of a lot of balancing fixes.

We’ve contacted Ubisoft to try to find out what’s going on.

Thanks to reader Markus for the tip.

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124 Comments »

  1. Bull0 says:

    Gotta protect the kids from the historical symbols in the 18+ rated game they shouldn’t have access to. Go Germany!

    • Gnoupi says:

      That’s not for the kids. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafgesetzbuch_%C2%A7_86a

      And it may be some “historical symbol”, but probably not the history you want to see displayed everywhere.

      • Andrxia says:

        Except that Germany displays it everywhere anyway. There isn’t a day that there isn’t at least two or three documentaries about Nazi Germany.

        • dE says:

          History lessons in school too. I had to learn everything by myself, because lessons went like this: There were these cavemen, then came the Romans and this concludes the first year. For the rest of your school life, you will hear about world war 2 and how you are guilty. The idea that I was guilty by birth for something that happened long before even my parents were born, struck me as odd, but that’s life.

          • Becalel says:

            The idea that I was guilty by birth for something that happened long before even my parents were born, struck me as odd(…),

            Not that I want to digress much, but is that not what Christianity is about?

          • ulix says:

            I often hear this argument, but frankly, it’s bullshit. WW2 is a small part of the history curriculum, but due to its ramifications until today, of course it is examined in detail.

            As are the (failed) German Revolution of 1848, the First World War and the Weimar republic, the Holy Roman Empire, the French Revolution, etc.

          • John Walker says:

            “Sins of the father” is a very disputed concept, and certainly not what Christianity is about. (Christianity is about those sins being forgiven.) It makes a lot more sense to understand the concept as a very astute reference to how the actions of previous generations have huge impacts on those that follow, rather than being about apportioning blame.

          • Shiloh says:

            That would be an ecumenical matter.

          • bstard says:

            It is not just odd, but plain wrong. Maybe a translation issue here, but there’s no guilt, only shame. Like every people has for some long passed war.

          • Lone Gunman says:

            “That would be an ecumenical matter.”

            Can’t help but read that in father Jack’s voice.

            @Bastrd

            Except when it comes to the British Empire, it seems to be fine to be proud of that.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @DE At least your history lessons weren’t poorly concealed propaganda: My experience was:

            In the beginning there were two men called Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. They were lovely men who played bowls in Plymouth and certainly never traded in slaves. One day the Spanish came with a giant armada and we humiliated them. They were certainly never only prevented from succeeding in conquering us by a freak wind and a lucky tide, no sir, it was all down to British ingenuity. See those countries in pink, we ruled them all, at the same time. They loved being ruled by us and when they got up to speed with the modern world, we graciously gave them independence, which is working out just great. Irish people are terrible at farming, unlike us. Some time later, foreigners got themselves in a bit of a kerfluffle – imagine benny hill and you’re about there. We sent over the British expeditionary force to sort them out. It was a new type of war and while life in trenches was rather uncomfortable, we Brits stuck it out and certainly did not needlessly wipe out entire towns populations of men because of our tactical stupidity. Then we invented tanks, invented I say, not copied from the other side and won that jolly old thing, but they couldn’t accept our victory and had a second bite at us. Fortunately, they were pure evil which justifies Hamburg, and our war heroes were certainly never involved in the ethnic cleansing of minorities, running African death camps etc no sir! After we won and literally saved all of Europe, the Yanks came to help us clear up a bit, jolly nice of them but unnecessary. SPITFIRES!!!!! Also the Russians got a bit cold and built a wall.

            That was my history education in a nutshell.

          • Bull0 says:

            Checks out to me!

          • uh20 says:

            it seems the school system wants to start you off with stereotypes
            it finally took until college where the entirety of world war two was packed into 2 days that they did not stuff into your mind the dumn details of it.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            Following Becalel’s tangent:

            John, perhaps Becalel was referring to the concept of original sin as opposed to patrio-filial sin transference. The second concept turns up in all sorts of contexts, but the first is uniquely Christian (and utterly vile).

            I guess the concept of eternal punishment visited on an entire species for the injudicious fruit choices of its progenitrix is common to all the Abrahamic faiths, but it’s the Christians who really ran with it – especially the Catholics.

            (edited for inclusivity of religious vilification)

          • Malfeas says:

            Completely agreed. I’ve made the “but my parent’s weren’t even born back then” argument a couple of times. The problem is that Germans tend to be quick to get stuck in their ways and go overboard with things, especially if someone charismatic is advocating it (which ironically and sadly is exactly why the crap that happened in the past happened) so they do just that with political correctness and advocating democracy.

            When I even dared suggest that there may be a link between modern monarchies and financial wealth of a country we should investigate, I dug my own grave a certain teacher made sure I’d repeat the class (which had a happy ending, I had to repeat but got into a class with nice people).

            tl;dr: German history education sucks even worse than the rest and we get stuck with an “Original Sin” clone (not the game, the stupendous religious concept).

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Sheng-ji : growing up in Scotland I didn’t get this at all. We learned about the Romans and then a bit about the Vikings then British history goes something like:

            OHFLOWEROFWILLIAMWALLACE THEFUCKINGENGLISHFREEDOOO OOOOMTAETHINKAGAIN!!!!

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            As an englishman living in Aberdeen, suddenly many, many things make sense.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Are you guys sure you’re German? I’ve asked my German friends and colleagues about this guilt/shame thing – just because it’s a popular stereotype I’ve heard – but none of them agree with it.

            In fact the German I work most closely with in my current job likes nothing better than to joke about the war. My general impression, knowing several Germans, several more Austrians, and living in Austria; is that feelings about the war aren’t a lot different here from feelings about the way for most people in the UK. Curiosity, historical interest, and agreement that the Fawlty Towers episode with the Germans in it is bloody good.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            The one bit of WWII history I do remember learning at school was the evacuation from Dunkirk… Probably because it was an English defeat, and Dunkirk sounds like it could be a place in Scotland.

      • markuslama says:

        This. And usage in historical context – movies, documentaries,… – is totally fine.
        I’m just sutprised they didn’t fix it before release. It’s not like this is the first game published in Germany/Austria that runs into this problem.

        • Wurstwaffel says:

          It’s allowed in art, but guess what, games aren’t legally considered art in germany. We could probably fix that if a publisher decides to take it all the way up to the constitutional court but nobody ever bothered. I guess it would be bad press to fight for your right to put swastikas in your game.

          • Low Life says:

            Would it be allowed in an episode of South Park on TV?

          • Phoibos Delphi says:

            The german version of S01 E07 “Must…eat…brains!” has Eric wearing his hitler costume, swastika and all, but they changed his lines from something I am not allowed to say (here in Germany) to “Wie Geil”, which essentially means “How cool (is that)”. So I think somebody at the rating boards considered South Park art back then in the nineties, but not enough art to put away the censors scissors completely.

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            RedViv says:

            There were no problems with what little swastika they have in the cartoon, Cartman’s Halloween outfit, the Passion of the Jew episode, those things.

          • KDR_11k says:

            I suppose the Hitler greeting would have triggered one of the Volksverhetzung laws which does not exempt art. That’s the kind of law that’s supposed to prevent Nazi propaganda movies/music/books/etc (and there are plenty of banned music albums, mostly ones released by neonazi music groups).

      • cpy says:

        Ban Hindu swastika, it will hide 2nd world war atrocities and reverse history what has already been done. Yeah logical, well it’s not like you play as nazi right?

        • markuslama says:

          “Oh no, Mr. Policeman, this is not a pro-Nazi rally. We’re all just really fascinated by Hindu culture…”
          /sarcasm off

          This law exists for a good reason: perventing the re-formation of national socialist organisations. We can’t and won’t ban opinions but we can say: no, you are not allowed to try and abolish democracy and kill millions of people.

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            Bury The Hammer says:

            Obviously these laws were made for de-nazification, which is certainly a good thing. The law can be applied as a bit of a blunt object, though. I don’t think a reasonable person would interpret this picture (http://www.woschod.de/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/antifa.gif) as a pro-nazism sign, or supporting the rise of national socialism. But anti-fascist campaigners were arrested for using it, because it contained a swastika.

            South Park’s another matter. But if they’re portrayed as ‘the bad guys’, surely they fall under the same sort of ruling as Inglorious Basterds, Indiana Jones, etc, etc..

        • KDR_11k says:

          That wiki page clearly states that using it in a hindu/buddhist context is fine.

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          Isn’t the Nazi version distinguished by being at a crooked angle and lacking the dots?

      • Bull0 says:

        That just seems sillier yet, but it’s easy (and fun!) to be glib about the nazis when you’re british, I appreciate other peoples’ relationship with it is more complex

        • Sheng-ji says:

          To be fair, we brits are quite glib about all of our atrocities.

          • Koozer says:

            Something something Germans no sense of humour too serious something something. We murdered thousands during the crusades but we don’t censor the crest of Richard the Lionheart.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I’m oddly at ease with Germany’s swastika ruling whilst generally being broadly anti-censorship.

      It’s not about protecting children, as you note it’s not a game for them anyway; it’s about considering some things unsuitable for entertainment. Austria/Germany have an understandable unique take on some issues which for a good few years (generations?) to come will remain “too soon” for comedy.

      • Canuckde says:

        At the same time, they are very knee-jerk reactionary on this thing over here, I remember some big law case about one of the larger anti-nazi shirt producers being taking to court for using the swastika, which was being either shattered with a fist or tossed in a garbage can, etc. In the end things worked out, but as I remember it took several appeals. Still, I can understand it to some extent… given the history.

        http://www.dw.de/stuttgart-seeks-to-ban-anti-fascist-symbols/a-1952743-1

        • Gnoupi says:

          “There is no bad publicity”. The point is to not show the symbol at all. Even if you show it in a negative light (thrown to trash, punched…), you still show it.

        • MiniMatt says:

          Yeah I recall those issues a while back too. I guess laws are by definition black and white declarations of right and wrong which we attempt to impose upon a distinctly grey world. Courts attempt to interpret those black and white stipulations in the infinite grey shades of the real world.

          Which leads to all sorts of oddness like anti-facist logos being potentially banned under the same laws and Indiana Jones being classed as “Art” :)

          • KDR_11k says:

            Yeah, that’s why laws are so ridiculously convoluted, someone is always going to find an edge case that then needs to be patched.

      • Premium User Badge

        Kong says:

        What is comedy is the fact that “my” – the German justice system seems to have a blind spot for neonazi activity.
        The latest scandal about the NSU cell has not been investigated thoroughly.
        German authorities do not seem to care about neonazi groups who actually murder people as much as they care about swastikas in computer games.
        I call the people responsible for all of this, the censoring, the covering up of neonazi activity in my country fascist fucks and suspicious of supporting neonazis.
        I see swastikas everywhere. Censoring does not help me in any way but seeing authorities for what they are: fascist

    • dE says:

      Instant Nazi. Take some German and add Swastikas. Stir with some umemployment. Done.
      Well the basic idea actually is to make sure the symbol isn’t used lightly again. It can be used in Art, of course. So Indiana Jones can go crazy with it… But dare you show it in a game…

      • KDR_11k says:

        Which led to the funny situation of swastikas being censored in the Indiana Jones point & clicks.

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        I tried this but all I got were some skinheads… For my next batch I’ll try mixing in a collapsed economy and weak political leaders.

    • Asdfreak says:

      It’s because courts ruled that games are more like toys than like art. You can use it in art, science, history lessons and other ever so slightly eductational context, for religious purposes and so on and so forth. But not in toys, which seems understandable, because
      1. Why would you put a swastica on a toy
      2. Kids might take in all that stuff unreflekted. Don’t forget that parents everywhere are notoriously too stupid to understand that they should not but 18+ games for their 8 year olds. Kids could take it in unreflected and think it’s not too bad afterall. Thats also why it is forbidden to say anything positive about naziism as a whole or about their crimes. It IS however okay to state that crime rates dropped when the nazis came into power.
      Edit: It is of course questionable if games toys or art, seeing all that hipster debate wether they are. Its kind of odd that they are considered toys

      Regarding all that history stuff:
      We have a pretty decent history curriculum, even though it is a bit annoying that everything is layed out so as if history has allways been on a long road from babarism to democracy. There is a LOT of stuff about Nazi germany in the history classes. I woulf guess it was about one third of all history lessons I ever had. I think it is however quite nice that they don’t obfusscate our history and world history with false glory, about the glourius days of the empire or the victory of the just freedomloving Union over the evil Confederacy, but actually show the dark sides of history. In year 12 we analysed the reasons why the democratic revolution that resulted the weimarinan republic failed and turned towards faschism and how these failings affected our modern contitution, lost generation and all.

      I absolutly hate that everyone not from Germany allways portraits it as if we collectivly turned a blind eye on the nazi period, especially if they are from the us or from GB, as these countries have commited crimes comparable in brutality and cruelty but most of them dont even fucking know about it.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Well, there’s also fun stuff like the thirty years’ war that basically reads like an inspiration for most modern dark fantasy settings… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years'_War

        • Asdfreak says:

          We did that one, but that may just be because the peace treaty was signed in the capital of our region and our city once constited out of two little towns, one protestant one catholic….
          In the nazi times there were almost regular mass brawls between the mainly protestant (here) HJ and the catholic country youth.
          Also it was considered socially unaccaptable to marry anyone from the other half just as long, people would go over and beat up the brides and husbands families to avoid the marriage. The thirty years war really left some deep wounds in history

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          Read up on the War of the Roses, then re-read George RR Martin… Even the names of the bloody houses…

          • KDR_11k says:

            “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to re-buy it as fantasy stories”?

  2. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    As with everything Ubisoft says, they were talking about the console version. It’s not like Germans play PC Games anyway.

  3. ulix says:

    They could have probably gotten away with it. You can use the swastika in all forms of art, as §86 subsection 3 clearly states:

    “Absatz 1 gilt nicht, wenn das Propagandamittel oder die Handlung der staatsbürgerlichen Aufklärung, der Abwehr verfassungswidriger Bestrebungen, DER KUNST oder der Wissenschaft, der Forschung oder der Lehre, der Berichterstattung über Vorgänge des Zeitgeschehens oder der Geschichte oder ähnlichen Zwecken dient.”

    Problem is that historically videogames were evaluated by a different set of standards in relation to other media/forms of art. I don’t think this applies anymore, however. At least not as much as it did.

    They could have tried getting the game out as intended, and only changed/removed the symbols after the USK/ratings board complained about it.

    • krait says:

      Indeed, use of the symbol in the context of art, science, or historical documentation is legal. I guess no one wants to test if “South Park” stands as art in a German court?

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        That’s it. They don’t want to gamble their sales on the German market on a German court’s take on the “Are games art?” debate. Apart from that, lawsuits cost time and money, and they probably don’t want to spend those either.

    • KDR_11k says:

      The last time courts ruled on the matter they considered videogames toys, not art. Also it’s not the USK or BPjM that gets to decide on bans due to unconstitutional content, that’s done by the courts and the courts can only decide on the matter AFTER the game is released. However since we’re talking about a felony here you really don’t want to wait for the court decision, at least not if you don’t plan on going to prison or getting your company fined.

  4. rikvanoostende says:

    Give it a couple of centuries and a few years of another evil (and its associated symbol) and the swastika will end up like the Nero symbol. Dissociated from its meaning and, heaven forbid, worn by future hippies.

    • GernauMorat says:

      Small quibble, but the peace symbol you are referring to comes from the semaphore symbols for CND, from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament of the 50′s: http://www.cnduk.org/information/info-sheets/item/435-the-cnd-symbol

    • ulix says:

      The swastika IS a peace symbol.
      It’s the symbol of the Jain religion, and also heavily featured in Hinduism, often with a very peaceful connotation (especially with Jain believers).

      • Gnoupi says:

        Indeed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

        It’s a shame it has been spoiled this way.

        • Volcanu says:

          In the West yes. In the ‘East’ – especially the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia and Japan they have more or less ignored the Nazi’s misappropriation of the swastika (as well they might) and use it regardless. Indeed, many people are unaware of the Nazi connection at all.

          I have had the slightly surreal experience of seeing several of my close friends being screened by a large swastika adorned cloth during their marriage ceremonies. Likewise my girlfriend’s parents wedding photos from the 70s have them smiling and holding swastikas (she’s British Indian).

          • HadToLogin says:

            Well, I’d say Hitler also wanted swastika to be seen as peace sign. And if his plan would work (which was “kill everyone else”) right now those who would live would be happy to wear swastika and read how concentration camps where best thing ever because they were killing enemies of the state…

          • Volcanu says:

            Not really. One can obviously attribute the reasons for the adoption of the swastika by the Nazi’s for a number of reasons, but the generally accepted reason is that Hitler – believing in the superiority of the Aryan races (who it is/was widely believed originated from Northern India) chose to adopt the eastern swastika symbol as a visual symbol of Aryan superiority, linking the Germanic peoples back to the supposed first white, master race.

            As such it was (to Hitler) a symbol of Aryan superiority. And not a ‘peace’ symbol.

          • Fry says:

            I somewhat doubt the Indian connection. The swastika is a very old symbol which has been used by numerous cultures at various points in history. Including ancient Germanic people. Which is likely what directly inspired Hitler.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_%28Germanic_Iron_Age%29

          • Asdfreak says:

            They are not believed to come from the northern indian region, which would not make sense because this population group is younger than the ice age and the lack of sun and Vitamin D is the reason for having such dangerously pale skin. They are today believed to come most likely from the Black sea around crimea and the caucasus. They left their homelands for some reason, maybe catastrophy, one half leaving for the Iraninan and the Nortern Indian region, the other half conquering most of europe because they had battle axes that were superior to all weapons known in the rest of europe. In some places the exterminated the natives, but in most places they just ruled them and mixed with them and assimilated with them. Well, everywhere except in the bascian lands.

            Also all that means that hitlers ideas where pretty much epic fail because that means that “aryans” would also include iranians, indians, afghans…. and almost all of europe, but he mostly used it as the synonym for the germanic tribes, which he beliefed to have the purest aryan core and therefore the right to kill everyone else, because thats what happens when you are a sozio-darwinist asshole.

          • Volcanu says:

            @ Fry

            Agreed in so much that it is an ancient symbol used by many different cultures. As well as Germanic peoples an example can be found in Britain from c.400 BC – the so called ‘Swastika Stone’

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_Stone

            Of course whether the swastika is a symbol that originated in many places at once, or something that the early Indo-European tribes brought with them on their migration is something we will never know. It could plausibly be either. Nevertheless I thought that Hitler and the Nazis clearly identified the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan ‘master race’ hence their reasons for picking it.

            @ Asdfreak

            Completely agree with the hitler logic fail. A rational man he was not! As for the Northern Indian connection you are right that the Aryan people were not originally from there as my post implied. However a number of academics have postulated that the Nazi’s identified the Aryans as a prototypical white master race because of their invasion/migration into Northern India. Indeed the origin of the word ‘swastika’ is itself derived from sanskrit.

            I am no expert but from doing a bit of light internet reading (so it must be true!) ‘swastika studies’ gained popularity after schleimann’s discovery of swastikas at Troy. Apparently some German ‘swastiak scholars’ concluded that the symbol originated on the banks of the Rhine, and hence the Aryan people also originated there (by their logic), from where they went on to conquer various other regions of the pre historic world. I’m sure that theory would have been appealing to young Adolf.

            Anyway, all rather interesting.

        • int says:

          Not to mention the mustache. Chaplin had it. Hardy had it. Then Hitler had it.

          I follow suit and claim that anyone who owns a German Shepherd dog is Hitler.

    • Lanfranc says:

      “Nero symbol”? Wat?

      • Volcanu says:

        Come on you know this one. On those dark and troubled nights when you look up into the sky and see a certain symbol projected into the sky from the roof of the police department. That one.

        Shortly followed by our hero appearing astride a 30ft golden colossus, manically fiddling on his violin whilst smiting criminal scum.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Nero used a symbol, identical in every way to the peace symbol to promote his theory that there would be no peace on earth if Christians existed. It is supposed to represent the Christian cross being broken, in a circle to protect non-Christians from the turmoil of the death of Christianity. He then went on a campaign of persecution against Christians in Rome so to some of your ancient ancestors, this symbol was a symbol of terror, prejudice and hate.

        EDIT: I like Volcanu’s answer better!

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    Kong says:

    Damn it, this is the first time since I moved from Germany to Austria that I must either ignore a game, buy in GB or manipulate it in order to get the original uncensored version. This is outrageous. God damn mindfucking fascists.

    • gschmidl says:

      I didn’t really care until that delay hit. We better get all DLC and all subsequent Ubisoft games for free as a repayment for this screw-up!

    • KDR_11k says:

      Isn’t importing banned games a crime?

  6. HadToLogin says:

    Did I read right that console versions were sent wrong and need to be resend?

    Then all is clear, as world wouldn’t be a fair place if console players would need to wait for their game while PC players would be able to play it, so Ubisoft is making it fair by moving PC release.

    Wait, you’re saying there are games which PC gamers received later? Guess that show you how important we are…

  7. Grimsterise says:

    Calm down Dear, it’s just a marketing ploy! The publishers are perfectly aware that swastikas are banned in Germany, but they want some nice free publicity like the headlines they are getting today. Nice, cynicism rules because = money.

    • The Random One says:

      Of course, they’re being seen as bumbling morons who don’t know the first thing about a market that’s right next door to them, but all publicity is good publicity! Just ask British Petroleum!

  8. NailBombed says:

    Obvious pun out of way first : i did nazi this coming at ALL.

    • Phoibos Delphi says:

      What a shame, I was göring to goebbels down the whole russia… err…game over the weekend!

      • Bull0 says:

        Ah, I don’t think you want to go russian in to this one anyway if the numerous bugs John identified are anything to go by. Wait for a putsch patch.

  9. chris1479 says:

    WIR MUSSEN DIE NAZIS STOPPEN! ALLE SWASTIKAS SIND VERBOTEN! WIR ZENSOREN ALLES DICH SICHER ZU BEHALTEN! LINKS ZWEI DREI VIER LINKS ZWEI DREI VIER!

    • Phoibos Delphi says:

      Yes, keeping old stereotypes alive will surely help humanity on their path to enlightenment!

      • chris1479 says:

        Phoibos you miss the point of what I was saying: I was pointing out how it is a contradiction in terms to on the one hand proselytise the importance of ‘liberalism’ ‘progressivism’ ‘human rights’ ‘freedom of speech’ and the usual spiel, whilst on the other hand censoring speech and pictures in exactly the same way the Nazis themselves censored points of view with which they disagreed.

        The most liberal thing to do would be to let people get a good long look at how ugly the purveyors of such ideologies are, rather than attempting futile censorship, pushing them underground, and using Nazis – to the extent that they even exist nowadays – as a kind of useful Right-wing bogeyman to wheel out every time you want to ban or censor something you don’t like.

        Keep censoring people and one day the Nazis will be back.

        • rikvanoostende says:

          History is written by the victors. So if it’s censored today, it can’t win in the future…?

        • ulix says:

          While I agree with you, and think that idiots should have a right to free speech as well, it’s not seen as a contradiction in Germany.

          The concept is called “Wehrhafte Demokratie”, and in it opinions and deeds that are clearly anti-democratic and/or against our constitution (Grundgesetz) CAN be supressed by the state.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streitbare_Demokratie

          • chris1479 says:

            Ein beeindruckendes Beispiel von Doppelzüngigkeit! Oder “Doublethink” :)

        • jalf says:

          The most liberal thing to do would be to let people get a good long look at how ugly the purveyors of such ideologies are

          You don’t actually know much about Germany, do you?

          If any culture on Earth has done exactly that, it’s Germany. They are not trying to deny history or pretend that it didn’t happen.

          Their rules about the use of the swastika are not representative of their treatment of WW2 history in general.

          • chris1479 says:

            I’ve lived in Germany for 6 years now, Berlin and Dresden, and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Germany’s treatment of self-described Nazis it’s that the state, the TV, the law is ruthless in its marginalisation of people with unpleasant and bigoted views. They do not do irony generally but one particular blindspot lies in the way they view censorship and state-subsidised bullying of pathetic, minor parties that no one cares about, as a means of expressing just how liberal and tolerant they are.

            This is complete doublethink, or Doppelzüngigkeit if you like. In fact some of the worst-behaved, most intolerant, viscerally unpleasant political groups in Germany exist among Die Gruenen. One example that springs to mind is how they burnt down an AfD member’s house because he stored campaigning materials, leaflets, for the party there.

            Democratic? Tolerant? Liberal? My arse.

          • dE says:

            chris1479, please stop. For your own sake, because you’re digging yourself a deep pit of ridiculousness+10. It’s obvious that you really don’t have any deeper knowledge about germany and are spreading misinformation while painting it as fact.
            For starters, you’re mixing up political parties and “Autonome” like it’s going out of style. You then completely ignore that Neonazis are actually allowed to have their own parades and peaceful demonstrations. What you mistake for ridicule by the media, is actually the stance of parts of the populace on that and the reports of said actions. Things like the foreign bus drivers in public transit denying service to people demanding their death. Where is the Doppelzüngigkeit? If Autonome burn down a neonazi-politician’s house, they face the same criminal charges as neonazis burning down a migrant’s house. Where is the Doppelzüngigkeit?

            Everyone is free to have their own opinion and to say whatever the hell they want. Others might not particularly enjoy what they say and object by having on opinion of their own. Everything beyond opinion and bordering on action is rightfully illegal for any side involved.

        • Asdfreak says:

          I have never even heard of anything being banned because it was falsely accused of being nazi propaganda, and I would have, as I read some dark internet news that try to tear everything apart that goes in that way. First of all I don’t really believe you when you say you lived in Germany for 6 years. Also, why do you consider it a bad thing if the public and the media always ridicule the right wing parties? Its fun and it keeps them away, unlike in Britain where UKIP is getting more and more votes, don’t get me started on the tea party. Also, where do you see government subsidised bullying of right wing and small parties? It is actually really easy to found and your own party and law grants you money per member, which is why neo-faschist parties like the NPD are not yet broke and insolvent: They get money from the government even though noone wants them to.

          They don’t use nazis as reasoning for banning and censoring what they want, they use child porn… Which is an entirly different thing again. Because the conservatives consist mainly out of middleaged and old people, all they hear when you say internet is”piracy, child porn, child porn, piracy, priacy….”

          also, please stop your bullshit about free speech, what exactly are you not allowed to say that you want to say?
          really, I’m curious. You act as if you can’t discuss naziism. You can’t say anything that preaches hate based on gender, sexuality, race, religion and so on, sure, but thats how it should be. If at all, the rules are not strict enaugh, ever heard all that bullshit anti-islam activists, salafists or the AfD idiots get away with? The rules are so extremly loose, that you can apply them to almost nothing at all. So what is it that you are lacking?

          Edit: Also, censorship is disallowed by constitution, the only exception is being openly hostile to parts of the constitution that grant equal human rights, freedom from persecution and hate for religious, racial, bla bla bla reasons and a democratic and federal government

        • MacTheGeek says:

          …censoring speech and pictures in exactly the same way the Nazis themselves censored points of view with which they disagreed.

          EXACTLY the same way? The modern-day German government evicts people with “distasteful opinions” from their houses, seizes their possessions, forces them to move into overcrowded neighborhoods, requires them to wear large yellow symbols on all their clothing, and is secretly developing plans to exterminate these people by the trainload?

          Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for opening my eyes! I guess you better run, though, as the secret police will be on their way to interrogate you, and then hand whatever part of you survives over to the State Science “doctors” for experimentation.

          • chris1479 says:

            Everything you say is recorded in perpetuity
            There are dozens of databases all accessible by civil servants
            Health records in the UK have been sold to private insurance companies and stored on Google servers, meaning that if you leak or threaten to leak information that makes the government look bad, suddenly everyone will know what you like to get up to in your free time or how you had a breakdown several years ago.

            Use your imagination. It’s not my fault you can’t see how the state and private sector are teaming up so they can take turns gangbanging you. If you think that’s ok then cool, no skin off my nose.

    • schlusenbach says:

      Yes, it is censorship, but these six lines that make up this symbol represent one of the biggest wounds in the history of humanity. It is hard to find an unbiased attitude towards the display of a swastika, when it is so deeply connected to millions of deaths and terrifying hate and madness.

      I’m against censorship. I don’t think that the use of a swastika in a mediocre computer game is a problem.

      But here in germany I don’t ever want to see this symbol used in public again. It’s the one kind of censorship I appreciate.

      • Phoibos Delphi says:

        @Schlusenbach: Just to clarify: I meant the german cliches (militaristic, obediant etc.) in the post above when I was talking about stereotypes. As a german, I absolutely second what you say about banning nazis in public.

      • chris1479 says:

        Freedom of speech must mean the freedom to say things that are unpleasant and disagreable or it is no freedom of speech at all, such freedom is meaningless.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          We don’t have freedom of speech in this country nor many other civilised countries, and that’s a good thing. I believe you should go to prison for inciting hatred against the vulnerable or reproducing information gleaned by illegally invading others privacy.

          • chris1479 says:

            Define “vulnerable” and define “reproducing information gleaned by illegally invading others privacy” then we can talk.

            Also you haven’t justified your point of view, you’ve just said ‘because you believe’ and “it’s a good thing”.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “Vulnerable” and “Privacy” are terms well defined in British law. A vulnerable adult has been defined as a person who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or
            may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation in any care setting. This includes individuals in receipt of social care services, those in receipt of other services such as health care, and those who may not be in receipt of services.

            Privacy in English law considers in what situations an individual has a legal right to informational privacy – the protection of personal or private information from misuse or unauthorised disclosure.

            And no, I don’t particularly have any need to justify my opinion and certainly not to you. If you ask me nicely, I could explain it, but most reasonable people don’t really need an explanation as to why it is important to have laws against inciting violence against, say people in wheelchairs. Or even inciting violence against non-vulnerable people, like say gay people or chinese people.

            Nor do most people seem to need explaining why it is important to have laws against, oooh, I don’t know, hacking the voicemail of Milly Dowler and publishing the resulting information in a national newspaper.

            Here’s the third one. It’s important to have laws against publishing lies about people, which is why I would leave myself open to being sued if I charismatically and persuasively used cold reading to convince people that I knew you and told everyone that you were a convicted paedophile. Freedom of speech would however allow me to tell lies about you and then incite violence against you, which would be handy if I wanted to murder you.

        • jalf says:

          Which freedom of speech is it that you feel Germany lacks? What exactly are Germans not allowed to say?

        • schlusenbach says:

          What happened in nazi-germany is not properly described by the words ‘disagreeable’ or ‘unpleasant’. Look up what happened in Auschwitz and how the nazis justified that. It is undescribable horror. I think we can agree, that ‘Freedom’ doesn’t include the freedom to kill others.

          Perhaps you are right and freedom of speech should include the freedom to spread madness and hatred. Perhaps a society has to tolerate that.
          But freedom of speech was also one of the first things the nazis took away from the society. Do you include the demand to silence others in the ‘freedom of speech’?

          I don’t know… I think Freedom of speech can only be granted to those who are willing to grant it to others.

          • chris1479 says:

            Of course “‘Freedom’ doesn’t include the freedom to kill others”. I couldn’t agree more. But equally, people do not have a right to not be offended by the things they hear. If they are offended they should start a campaign or activist group, rally their local communities, open the subject for discussion and destroy their opponents in a democratic forum. Not go crying to the state, getting them to utilise force and coercion to silence people who are much better dealt with by force of reason and logic than law.

            A society where madness and hatred is silenced by law rather than countered head on is one that, when they are called upon to vote for good or evil, as again one day they surely will, they will not recognise evil when they see it.

            The state will have lent credence to their hateful and prejudiced opinions by validating their misappropriated persecution complex, saying – truthfully – “we have been marginalised, we are being bullied by the state, vote for us and get revenge against the traitors to our country.”

  10. Gothnak says:

    I sold a copy of Escape from Colditz on Ebay last month and my first attempt was taken down because it showed a swastika, even if it was on a game about prisoners of war escaping a nazi prisoner of war camp.

    So, i had to relist it and censor my own photos…

    It was a bit weird, i wasn’t glorifying the war or anything.

  11. Lemming says:

    Germany needs to realise that mocking and making fun of the Nazi movement, is probably the best therapy for getting passed it and making sure it never happens again.

    It’s not as if the French ban all war games, is it? Heeeeeyyy-oooo!

  12. jarowdowsky says:

    Surely the issue here is Ubisoft, not German law.

    All publishers have to take into account the laws of the country they are dealing with and South Park seems to have shown a staggering level of incompetence from their legal team.

    It doesn’t matter whether the law is right or wrong in your eyes they should be doing a much better job for the people who want to play their game.

    There seems to have been a significant disinterest in getting things right here which kinda feels replicated throughout the whole industry at the moment. Whether it’s checking the legal compliance of products, dumping shares ahead of broken launches, ignoring game breaking bugs whilst focusing on DLC – it just seems like ‘do the least’ is the order of the day.

    It’ll be a real shame if Ubisoft’s incompetence gets covered up by complaints about censorship.

    • Bull0 says:

      Conflating this with the BF4 share dump thing is a bit mean :/

  13. Spadefr0g says:

    I am from germany, and what i hate about this censorship is, that Films seem to be allowed to show nazi symbols. For example, in Indiana Jones they are shown. And of course in every documentation about History, and Films inspired by real history.
    Wolfenstein: The new Order is also censored in Germany, we have to fight the “Totenkopf Regime” instead of Nazis. Yay.

    • HadToLogin says:

      You have to wait those probably 30 more years for games to become “official art”…

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      In happier news Totenkopf Regime sounds metal!

      I’m not touching the Wolfenstein with a ten foot barge pole, but I’d much rather be fighting someone called the Totenkopf Regime than boring old nazis again. I’ve killed enough of those guys to end the war twice over I reckon.

  14. Stillquest says:

    I actually see the Swastika banning law as a case of something that has outlived it’s original purpose – namely, the denazification of Germany – but it’s hard to imagine it being officially repealed in the foreseeable future. No politician in his right mind would come within a mile of the issue. I suppose the law will simply become a dead letter at some point.

    • chris1479 says:

      Focusing on swastikas etc is a complete red herring. As was the “denazification” of Germany in general. It is very easy to ban the outward expression, depiction, of national socialist-related imagery and literature. On the other hand, in reality, the massive majority of all civil servants and bureaucrats who ran day-to-day life in Germany and collaborated with the German war machine stayed exactly where they were post 1945.

      They were never prosecuted, never hunted down, they lived openly and no one said a thing about it. They were all guilty, whether of working hand-in-glove with the Nazis themselves or by assisting them in the running of the bureaucratic apparatus that permitted millions to be condemned to the gas chambers. They did not care. They just took their monthly wageslip and looked the other way. There will always be evil people and people who are emblematic of evil in this world such as the Nazis – but there are a whole lot more people who knew exactly what was going on, could’ve walked away, and didn’t have the moral backbone to do it.

      So the zeal with which people focus on pathetic low hanging fruit like nasty pictures and silly flags is just… a sick joke. If the German people really serious about denazifying Germany post 1945 they would’ve had to go a LOT further than banning swastikas, they should’ve jailed more or less anyone in government at that time for life and called it a day, pour encourager les autres.

      But they didn’t, and it’s too late now, so instead they spend their time hounding 95 year old alzheimers sufferers who may or may not have been guards. The people who were really guilty were the people cooking their meals, filing their wageslips, taking notes, sewing their uniforms, delivering their post.

      “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us”

      • ulix says:

        Which was a good decision. It was wise to only put the biggest nazi criminals in front of courts, otherwise a working state could not have been built.

        Just look at Iraq and how they fared after the US-led invasion and the following “Debaathization”; which was much, much more thorough than the “Denazification” efforts in Germany.

        The people who you claim “were really guilty” were really guilty. Of looking away. Of nothing else.

        Which in and of itself is bad, of course, but shouldn’t get you into prison for life. Especially not, if any resistance could have been deadly.

      • rikvanoostende says:

        When you’re a civilian in the middle of a country at war, you can’t comprehend the size of it or who’s on wrong side. And when you are sewing uniforms and cooking meals to get enough of an income to feed your family you might have no alternative than to do your job. And only after the war you hear about death camps.

        The war itself is not a blob that covered Europe. It’s a front of battle that extends and passes your home at some point. When it does, people try to survive by hiding or fleeing. Before and after, people try to make a living as best as possible. By cooking meals and sewing uniforms for example. Do you really think they should be jailed for life?

      • Stillquest says:

        Well Chris, that’s a huge topic you’re broaching here. According to your reasoning, which is hard to fault, most every German living during WW2 and the Holocaust was culpable in what was going on.

        That raises a question that is both moral and practical. What would be the right thing to do, what COULD you do? You suggested jailing all the civil servants and bureaucrats – but why do you draw the line there? You said so yourself: The people sewing the uniforms, cooking the meals – everyone’s guilty, least everyone that didn’t have the moral fibre to fight the regime. So now what? Jail the whole German population? Genocide them systematically as they did to others? I’m an Israeli Jew of Austrian and Polish descent, alive today only because my grandparents where quick enough to realize where the wind was blowing and emigrated here. Most of their families didn’t. To his dying day, my grandfather was adamant that for justice to be served, the whole adult generation of Germans alive during the war should’ve been treated exactly like they treated Jews and Gypsies, as “they all knew what was going on, they were all part of it”. Considering he lost most of his relatives to death camps, it was a bit hard to argue with him.

        I agree that latching to symbols as opposed to the real problem is a bit pathetic, and has more than a little in common with modern political correctness: “Don’t use the words, the offending element will disappear”. But – considering the fact that in this case the real problem is, sadly enough, human nature… I can’t see anything productive to do either. If there’s anything I think people should learn from the Nazi regime, is that human morality is much more malleable than most would want to believe. Given distressingly simple to fulfill conditions, most every one of us can act like a monster. The Banality of Evil indeed.

        • chris1479 says:

          Cogent points there stillquest, thank you for sharing your grandfather’s experience and the Hannah Arendt quote is very apt. The banality and indifference of not only Germans but of many western Europeans towards WW2 today is also damning in its own way. So many talk more or less about ‘moving on’ and letting bygones be bygones and other such cliches, the truth of the matter is that most people don’t care. WW2 has been reduced to a perpetual loop of History Channel documentaries and bigotted liberals who invoke the fearsome spectre of Nazism for the most banal and fatuous purposes, as if the banning of X or the subsidising of Y might somehow make it less likely to happen again.

          Equally I do understand that most Germans are sick of hearing about it, and as time goes by people must to some degree move on so that the sacrifices of WW2 were not in vain.

          If there’s one sight that, for whatever reason, really got my blood up about Germany – and perhaps Europe generally – and that I felt spoke volumes about 2014, it was seeing kids and the more flamboyant members of the european community frolicking through the Jewish memorial in the center of Berlin, taking selfies, eating their lunch on it – you know the black concrete blocks?

          Sometimes commentators talk or warn about people forgetting… they aren’t forgetting, they’ve already forgotten. It doesn’t speak to them any more than the Napoleonic wars speak to me. Of course life has a way of teaching people a hell of a lesson when they most need it, and they’ll be reminded again in good time.

          • Widthwood says:

            On the other hand you have to turn the page sometime, and 69 years is plenty of time.

            Problem is, you can force people to not use swastika, or not sit on monuments – but these will inevitably become empty gestures. Telling children about the war and about history – over time these stories subtly change, and initial subtext will be inevitably lost. The most broad lesson of WW2 about thinking for yourself and not following blindly a strong leader – didn’t even begin to catch on. More specific, about dangers of nationalist movements – didn’t last a decade; nowadays we even have almost official neo nazi movements all over Europe and USA.

            For better or worse you just can’t expect people to be in the same state of mind, fixed in 1950-1960s. At least we didn’t have a world war for almost 70 years – that’s certainly an improvement…

  15. Kinch says:

    Germans don’t want any Nazis because they’re afraid Putin might want to come “liberate” them.

    Terrifying jokes aside, we have a similar law in Poland that forbids public display of Nazi/Soviet symbols. So you can’t wear a swastika or hammer & sickle T-shirt (well, you can but you may be fined). This doesn’t extend to video games (or the arts and the entertainment industry, in general), as far as I’m aware.

    • Widthwood says:

      I wonder if Putin knows about that, he would probably want to come and liberate hammer an sickle in Poland.. Erm I mean unknown armed men would probably want that.

      By the way, we have similar law against swastika, but it really isn’t that enforced. If you would draw swastika on one wall, and write “Putin sucks cock” on the other – the second one would probably get erased before the first one every time.

  16. -Spooky- says:

    *sigh*

    I´m german and rly tired about this stuff. They are no “explicit” 3rd Reich symbolics and gestures etc. Hitler stoles from roman empire to the swastika and so forth .. and so on.

    No big deal these days. I don´t get it anyway @ german gov.

  17. chris1479 says:

    Someone lock up those evil importers in a camp – I mean – “Jail” promptly. To protect the children, or something.

  18. HisDivineOrder says:

    I suspect the game had the symbols removed, but the German authorities that might have looked it over and certified it as symbol-free did not get around to doing it in time to make the release date.

  19. Golden Pantaloons says:

    Whether or not the law makes sense, it’s very strange that a european video game developer would not be aware of this, or choose to ignore it.
    Germany has banned a bunch of games throughout the last 30 years or so that have had little or no references to nazism in any way, simple for being “too violent” or “too graphic” or some such nonsense. I’m pretty sure you’ve never been able to purchase a retail copy of the original Wolfenstein in Germany, I don’t know about the sequels.
    But Ubisoft really should be aware of this, and aware of the huge potential market they are throwing away.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Ham Solo says:

    “There is no need to amend or cancel your pre-order. ” – Yes there beeping is, not because of the removal of that symbol, that’s nothing new in my country. But because of their pathetic incompetence to act accordingly. Preorder cancelled, go beep youself.

  21. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Austrian resident here, still looking forward to this because the over the top grossness, shock factor, and vulgarity are actually not the things I ever liked about Southpark, I just accepted them as part of the formula. Southpark is hit-and-miss, the hits are spot on, the misses are a mile wide of the mark and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth. I’m also someone who things the swearing in the show is funner when it’s beeped.

    I think it all basically comes down to the perception that videogames are for children. In Austria there are no copyright restrictions on accessing recent episodes from the southparkstudios website – and there is never any attempt made to censor anything there.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Kong says:

    Austrian resident as well. Nobody here cares about swear words or anal probes in any media. Fritzl the dungeon keeper did not get his idea from computer games. Watching zombies with swastikas will not get the neonazi party more votes from young people.
    South Park will not turn us into pacifists and make us prohibit weapons factories in our country. Bollocks. That’s what this is. Maybe the next really serious crisis will put an end to our charade once and for all.

  23. StartRunning says:

    I thought Europe was already getting the censored (console) version, for reasons I don’t fully comprehend. This whole censorship business is confusing, it almost seems like a marketing ploy.

  24. Timmytoby says:

    Very weird that they didn’t manage to fix this in tiem for the release.
    It’s not like it’s a new law or a big suprise for a company as huge as Ubisoft.

    NCSoft went in the complete opposite direction when they released City of Heroes (*sob) in Europe. They replaced one of the major enemy factions (the 5th Column) with a much blander enemy faction (the Council) fearing that an army of pseudo-Nazis would potentially lead to a PR-disaster.
    They not only removed any problematic graphics (and the symbols and uniforms didn’t even look very similar), but erased any mention of the old faction in the game (which had been already released for several month in the US by that point).
    A few years later they brought them back, but as Italian fascists.
    Now I’m missing CoH again *sigh