Amazon drama Hunters criticized by Auschwitz Memorial Museum
The series kicks off as a Jewish teen’s grandmother is killed and he decides to do what the police aren’t doing: find her killer. The road leads Jonah (Logan Lerman) to Offerman, a longtime friend and Nazi fighting partner of his grandmother who leads an eclectic group of hunters searching for escaped Nazis to pay for their WWII crimes against humanity.
The show has come under fire by the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, who preserve the German Nazi Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in Poland — where 1.1 million people died during the Holocaust. Those running the organization have issues with the series using Auschwitz as a backdrop for a fictional game that does not reflect what really happened there.
“Auschwitz was full of horrible pain & suffering documented in the accounts of survivors. Inventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness and caricature,” They posted on their official Twitter account on Sunday. “It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.”
Fans in the comments of their post dispute Auschwitz Memorial’s understanding of Hunters being a fictional story and that Hollywood sometimes takes liberties with history in order to tell a story. The organization maintains that the show’s plot is “disrespectful” and “dangerous.”
In the wake of the news, the show’s creator David Weil has released a powerful statement detailing his own family’s connection to Auschwitz and his visit to what remains of the camp, which he notes significantly impacted his work.
“Years ago I visited Auschwitz and I saw the gates my grandmother was forced to enter decades earlier and the barracks she was forced to live in as a prisoner,” the statement reads. “I saw vestiges of the nightmarish world she had survived. It was an experience that forever altered the course of my life. It was the moment consecrated in time and memory that I sought to make good on doing my part – however big or however small – to ensure the promise of ‘Never Again.’ I believed then – as I do now – that I had a responsibility as the grandson of Holocaust survivors to keep their stories alive.”
Weil also addressed the chess match scene specifically, explaining his intention for the striking sequence.
“In speaking to the ‘chess match’ scene specifically… this is a fictionalized event,” he shared. “Why did I feel this scene was important to script and place in series? To most powerfully counteract the revisionist narrative that whitewashes Nazi perpetration, by showcasing the most extreme – and representationally truthful – sadism and violence that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews and other victims. And why did I feel the need to create a fictional event when there were so many real horrors that existed? After all, it is true that Nazis perpetrated widespread and extreme acts of sadism and torture – and even incidents of cruel ‘games’ – against their victims. I simply did not want to depict those specific, real acts of trauma.”
He added, “I am forever grateful to the Auschwitz Memorial for all of the important and vital work that they do, for keeping the memory of victims and survivors like my grandmother, Sara Weil, alive. I believe we are very much on the same side and working toward the same goals. And I hope we can continue a dialogue on how to achieve those goals.”
Hunters’ first season is currently available to stream in its entirety via Amazon Prime Video.