I learned some WWII history while writing this article. I actually found myself questioning how far over the line of decency entertainment companies cross in order to deliver the next best thing.
The truth is I am conflicted.
On the one hand what Relic Entertainment have achieved with their new engine is exciting and innovative. But Campaign designer Jason Tores calls the games design philosophy “the ruthless truth of war”. I feel this mandate goes a step too close to insulting the memory of the bravery of the soldiers who died in the war. Say what you must about the Nazi political line, most German soldiers weren’t fire breathing racists but scared young soldiers following orders. Despite our justified prejudice against their motivations are we justified in glorifying their deaths in this way?
This moral dilemma reminds me of a story my friend Tillman Wolfemore shared with me. One day he opened up to me sharing the truth that his Grandfather was in the German SS as a medical support officer. I was shocked and declared that his Grandfather was a hideous monster who deserves nothing less than to burn in hell. Tillman smiled and corrected me saying that his Grandfather was actually a hero.
During the invasion of Russia a young German medical officer in the SS was charged with monitoring a front line field hospital. The Russians were bearing down fast but the order to retreat never came. Many of the stationed soldiers including other agents of the SS saw the situation as hopeless and deserted the hospital.
The young medic refused to leave and stated that: he would not leave the defenceless wounded to be slaughtered. The Russian advance made it to the front door and as the lone officer drew his pistol to defend his patients a platoon of German reinforcements arrived repelling the Russian attack. saving the hospital and all within.
Tillman’s Grandfather was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. The deserters were shot.
This story made me realise that heroes are made by decisions made in moments. Tillman’s Grandfather may have served under the banner of evil but when the moment came he stood for honour and courage.