Released this past October, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a blockbuster video game in which the protagonist, William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz, is a hardened Texas Jew who fights the Nazis who, sadly, have taken over the land of the free. This being the game’s premise, it was heavily censored in Germany, where displaying Nazi iconography is still largely verboten; the game’s designers went as far as to scrub the famous little mustache off of you-know-who’s face, as if a bit of upper lip plumage may immediately incite longings for the Third Reich. The game was outright banned in Israel, not by the government but by its American publisher, Bethesda Softworks, which decided that all that sieg heiling would be too much for the tender folk of the Jewish state.
Amused and outraged, a small band of Israeli game developers created a game of their own. Entitled Wolfenstache: The New Censorship, it’s a free browser-based game featuring a Jewish protagonist armed with Star-of-David-shaped sights shooting at—could it be any different?—the Fuhrer’s mustache.
“Hello Germany!” reads a cheerful message as the game begins. “The german version of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus does not include swastikas. Or jews. or hitler. or his mustache. So we figured we’d lend a hand. think of this as an indie DLC,” the latter being shorthand for downloadable content. “You are definitely playing a Jew. You will shoot nazis. Definitely nazis. Jews, Jews, Jews. Nazis and more nazis. Jews and nazis and Hitler. Hitler, Hitler, Hitler. Enjoy!” Then, it’s onwards into an arena where a gigantic photograph of the Nazi tyrant shoots out flying mustaches that must be destroyed before they hit their mark, lest blood splatter all over the screen. It’s silly, but, arguably, not as silly as the German version of Wolfenstein, in which Hitler, shorn of his trademark, is identified as “Herr Heiler,” and in which Jews have been made invisible to further distance fiction from fact.
So because it’s Wednesday, and because the original Wolfenstein is, frankly, a costly bore, sit back and indulge in a first person shooter that’s actually fun.
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.