The national ban on all Nazi symbology came into force shortly after WWII ended in 1945. The offensive material was barred from computer games in 1990.
The ban resulted in obvious signs of the Nazi regime, including Adolf Hitler’s moustache, being removed from the Wolfenstein series, in which players fight their way through members of the Third Reich.
The game was thought to have been in breach of German law, which bars any depiction of anti-constitutional symbols – including the swastika, which was replaced by triangular symbol in the game.
But the gaming community vehemently argued computer games should be considered “works of art”, in the same way that films are treated as art forms.
Because cinema is classed as an art form, movies are often exempt from the German ban — similar to material used in research, historical or scientific purposes.
Now, following the lifting of the ban on Thursday, a German industry body ruled that computer and video games can include swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) deemed video games would be examined as to whether they constitute such exceptions, as is the case with many World War II films depicting Nazi Germany.
The USK, also responsible for giving age classifications on video games, after the country’s youth protection services tasked the organisation to determine what is “socially permissible”, and stated they would implement the new rules responsibly.
Elisabeth Secker, USK Managing Director, said: «Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating.
«This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games.”
In March of this year, Germany announced it would ban Second World War Nazi memorabilia and symbols from its newly-named military barracks in an attempt to distance its armed forces from their links to the past.
It followed uproar in 2017 when it was revealed military units were openly displaying memorabilia from the Nazi era, including images of fighter aircraft displaying swastikas.
The German government announced plans to rename its old military barracks in Hannover, from Emmich-Cambrai to being named after Tobias Lagenstein, one of 57 German soldiers killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Other depictions included a mural of soldiers in Third Reich regalia, and a picture of former chancellor Helmut Schmidt in Nazi uniform.