Battlefield 5 will change the name of a new, premium German WW2 avatar after it emerged the high-ranking Axis soldier had been given the name of a real-life antifacist – someone who actually fought against Nazis.
The trouble started earlier this week, when Archaeogames.net pointed out Battlefield 5’s Wilhelm Franke, a swaggering new German WW2 soldier who looks like something out of Inglorius Basterds, was named the same as Wilhelm Franke, a noted Dresden resistance member arrested by Gestapo.
Here’s a look at how EA have promoted him:
Vice then picked up the story, and received a statement from EA in which the publisher said it would change the character’s name.
“We’ve become aware that one of the names of our Elites, Wilhelm Franke, shares the name of a real life resistance member in Germany during the Second World War,” EA stated. “We want to apologise as we certainly didn’t mean any disrespect to him. We are in the process now of changing the name.”
The most bizarre thing, though, is how EA has handled this snafu in the context of Battlefield 5’s wider decision to feature a version of WW2 without Nazi insignia.
Whereas games like Wolfenstein have you fighting Nazis emblazoned with swastikas, the World War 2-set Battlefield 5 has sanitised the conflict. There are no swastikas (although there are German Iron Crosses, a symbol used since by Nazi-aligned groups). A story level where you fight on the German side has you play as non-Nazi German conscripts.
And, here, EA has now stressed it is “not making any political statements” about WW2, a conflict sparked by the rise of a fascist political party, which was voted into power before murdering millions.
“The aforementioned Elite, Wilhelm Franke, whose name we’re changing is not a Nazi, but a German solider similar to ones we already have in the game,” EA concluded. “In Battlefield 5, we’re not making any political statements in relation to the real life events of WW2 and there are no swastikas in the game.”
Not that choosing to make a WW2 game with de-Nazified German soldiers is a political statement, of course.