Auschwitz Memorial Slams Amazon Series ‘Hunters’ as ‘Dangerous Foolishness and Caricature’

Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios, Prime Video
Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios, Prime Video

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum has slammed the new Amazon Studios drama series Hunters for a fictionalized scene set at the concentration camp depicting a game of human chess in which the human pieces are eliminated and then killed.

In a series of tweets, the Polish museum called the scene “dangerous” and “disrespectful” to those who perished at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. It also called on filmmakers and other artists to preserve the “factual accuracy” of real-life locations when using them in their fictional stories.

Hunters is one of Amazon’s most high profile original series, bringing together A-list talent including actor Al Pacino and executive producer Jordan Peele. The blood-soaked show tells the story of a group of Nazi hunters living in New York in 1977 who come together to hunt down Nazi officials still hiding out in the U.S.

David Weil, the show’s creator, defended the chess scene in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying that the show is “inspired” by true events and isn’t meant to be interpreted as historical truth.

“It is not documentary. And it was never purported to be,” he said. “In creating this series it was most important for me to consider what I believe to be the ultimate question and challenge of telling a story about the Holocaust: how do I do so without borrowing from a real person’s specific life or experience?”

Weil added that the show aimed to evoke the “representational truth” of the Holocaust, not the “literal” truth of what really happened.

“This show takes the point of view that symbolic representations provide individuals access to an emotional and symbolic reality that allows us to better understand the experiences of the Shoah and provide it with meaning that can address our urgent present,” he said.

The Auschwitz museum hit back at the suggestion that storytellers should be allowed creative leeway in depicting real places, saying that they ought to invent a fictional concentration camp for their stories.

“We prefer a true story that will lead to a million truths. One should not create fake reality if the details about this reality are so well documented,” the museum said on Twitter.

Hunters debuted on Amazon Prime Video on Friday. The ten-episode first season received mixed reviews from critics, who faulted the series of its tonal imbalances and for being overly self-conscious.

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