January 19, 2019

Why Pokémons in Auschwitz and in Holocaust Memorial museums are not so bad…

Yesterday, I came across a few articles and op-eds condemning the fact Pokémons were found in Auschwitz and the US Holocaust Memorial museum.

Pokémon Go, which turned into a global phenomenon, is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game, where users can find and catch Pokémons in their surroundings. Unlike many of today's apps and games, Pokémon Go requires users to actually get off their seat and walk around the streets, pass by monuments (where they can collect more Pokéballs with which they catch the Pokémons), and enter stores and local businesses.

A lot has been written and said about the craziness revolving Pokémon Go. On the one hand, kids (and adults) are becoming more active, which is a blessing in our day and age, especially in summertime. On the other hand, they have been staring at their phone screens while doing it, which is never safe. Whether you like it or hate it, this app has now “>New York Magazine, began with a reader that found out he was able to capture a Rattata while visiting Auschwitz.  Since then, others have discovered the animated creatures through their phones at the former Holocaust camp. Later on, it was reported that The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is home to three different PokéStops — and is therefore attracting people glued to their phone screens.

People were mad, outraged even, and I get that. It's disrespectful, offensive, and steps all over the memory of the Holocaust.

Nonetheless, I believe there's another way to look at it – as an opportunity to educate people about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

In a world where false information and “>With that, comes an increasing danger of history repeating itself, and I believe we should accept any form of a chance to show the truth. Kids enter a Holocaust remembrance museum to catch some Pokémons? Embrace it! In any other scenario they would have never entered the place to begin with.

At some point, after catching the elusive Pokémons, the players will look up from their phone screens and think of their next adventure, but not before taking a minute to look around (natural curiosity to know where you are). This is our chance to make sure they'll understand, remember and perhaps want to stick around and discover more. Sure, it was the Pokémons expedition that led them to these places, but it can be a great opportunity to make them aware, show them, educate them, and maybe turn them into advocates (we sure need more of those).

So yes, seeing kids catching Pokémons in the middle of a memorial is not the most pleasant thing, but if we take a minute to look beyond our rage, we can discover the meaningful upside of the situation, and do good things.