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u/Deathaster 2d ago edited 2d ago

First of all, all of the Wolfenstein games are available in Germany now, completely uncensored (except Wolfenstein 2009, but that's due to licensing issues).

Secondly, the Wolfenstein games weren't ever banned or censored because of the Nazi content. Wolfenstein 3D (and its predecessors on the C64) were actually just banned because of the "glorification of violence", i.e. you gunning down countless Nazis.

Wolfenstein 3D ended up getting labeled as "not serving any purpose towards art, education or science" and it was said that video games couldn't have Nazi symbols in them for that reason.

However, this was only done in a single case against a Neo-Nazi in 1998 who was sharing Nazi propaganda, among which was also Wolfenstein 3D. This was NEVER turned into a law though, and censors were basing their decisions on that single verdict. In fact, the law specifically allows pieces of media to show Nazy imagery, the judges simply ignored that part (either to convict the Nazi further or simply because they didn't understand/ care enough).

Since then, game publishers were basically doing self-imposed censorship, because they could have very much argued "Hey uhh this isn't actually against any law so we're legally allowed to have Nazi symbols in our games". They just didn't because it was likely way easier to just cave in and censor the games themselves.