EA Claims ‘Battlefield V’ Character Isn’t A Nazi, Despite Wearing Nazi Symbols
Last week EA announced a new premium skin for Battlefield V for a character called Wilhelm Franke. The character's announcement video shows him walking through a church, killing Allied soldiers and leaving one of the wounded men to bleed out at his feet. However, since Franke's announcement it's been pointed out that Wilhelm Franke was the name of a real soldier and he was a resistance fighter who fought against the German army.
According to a report by Archaeogames, the real Wilhelm Franke resisted the Nazi's for years, using his cigar shop in Dresden as a meeting place for anti-fascists and resistance fighters until he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, before dying in the Dresden air raids in 1945.
Since it was put to EA that the real-life person who shares a name with their character was decidedly not a Nazi, the publisher has said that it will change the character's name.
"We've become aware that one of the names of our Elites, Wilhelm Franke, shares the name of a real life resistance member in Germany during the Second World War," EA said in a statement to Vice. "We want to apologize as we certainly didn't mean any disrespect to him. We are in the process now of changing the name of our Elite in the game."
However, EA also claims that the character in Battlefield V is not a Nazi. "The aforementioned Elite, Wilhelm Franke, whose name we're changing is not a Nazi, but a German soldier similar to ones we already have in the game," EA's statement says. "In Battlefield V, we're not making any political statements in relation to the real life events of WW2 and there are no swastikas in the game."
The character does, however, sport an Iron Cross on his chest.
The Iron Cross was a military decoration that had a long history before the Second World War, going back to the early 1800s. But during the Second World War, Nazis superimposed a swastika on the medal. And, while it was officially discontinued after 1945, the symbol has been picked up by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups. So for many it is a hate symbol.
According to the ADL hate symbol database, its status is complicated by its history in the US, where biker gangs and later skaters used the symbol to shock and be a sign of rebellion. But, while it might be worn by people in the US who are not neo-Nazis or white supremacists, in the context of a Battlefield V skin, which is set during the Second World War, the Nazi context is a lot more clear.
Unless, of course, this fictional character was awarded his medal in the First World War, but now we're getting into a complicated history to explain why a character is wearing a symbol that could be construed as a Nazi hate symbol without being himself a Nazi. Something EA could avoid entirely by not using symbols like this in its games.
Featured Image Credit: EA