Please, No Pokemon Go At The WWI Battlefields!

The Pokémon Go smartphone app has caused no end of disruption all over the world, but more so in several War Memorials. Places such as Washington’s Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have recently asked players to remove themselves and to have respect for the dead.

The most recent war memorial to demand that the Pokémon creators, Niantic, remove characters from their location is found in France. North-east France is the home of the Douaumont Ossuary that contains the bones of 300,000 French and German soldiers that lost their lives in the Battle of Verdun. This ten-month long battle, fought between the French and Germans, from February to December 1916, was one of the bloodiest battles fought on the Western Front of World War I.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Francois Mitterrand both visited this memorial together in 1984. They shook hands to symbolize their countries’ post-war reconciliation and the location is marked with a plaque in memory of the event.

The ossuary was the location of a “gym” where rival teams fight one another, and the plaque was the location of a “Pokestop” where players collect items.  Elodie Farcage, a spokeswoman for Douaumont, told an interview with The Local that they had requested that all references to the memorial be removed.

Not only was Douaumont plagued with game references, but the Verdun Memorial was also listed as a ‘gym’. Fortunately, Verdun was excused the mania as Emeline Villeseche, a spokeswoman for Verdum said, “We have no Internet network here so the players cannot use it.”

The village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont, which was destroyed during the war, is also listed in the game. The mayor of this picturesque village will be requesting the creators of the game remove it entirely from the app.



Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE