‘Hunters’ creator defends Amazon series from Auschwitz Memorial criticism


The Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial criticized Amazon early Sunday for creating fictionalized scenes of violence in its new Prime series “Hunters.”

The series, executive produced by Jordan Peele and released Friday, stars Al Pacino as the head of a band of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York who discover that hundreds of escaped Nazis are living in the U.S.

The series depicts fictional atrocities taking place in Nazi death camps, including a game of human chess in which people are killed when a piece is taken off the board.


The organization, which represents the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, tweeted Sunday: “Inventing a fake game of human chess … is not only dangerous foolishness and caricature, it also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.”

Series creator and executive producer David Weil defended his narrative choice in a statement:

“While ‘Hunters’ is a dramatic narrative series, with largely fictional characters, it is inspired by true events,” he wrote. “But it is not documentary. And it was never purported to be. 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, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, noted that his grandmother, Sara Weil, had been held prisoner at Auschwitz. He also said that the choice to fictionalize certain aspects of the show was intended out of respect for the survivors.

“I made the decision that all of the concentration camp prisoners (and survivors) in the series would be given tattoos above the number 202,499,” the highest recorded number given to an Auschwitz prisoner, because “I didn’t want one of our characters to have the number of a real victim or a real survivor.

“I did not want to misrepresent a real person or borrow from a specific moment in an actual person’s life,” he wrote. “That was the responsibility that weighed on me ... for years while writing, producing and editing this show.”

Regarding the chess scene specifically, Weil said it was intended to “most powerfully counteract the revisionist narrative that whitewashes Nazi perpetration, by showing the most extreme — and representationally truthful — sadism and violence that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews and other victims... I simply did not want to depict those specific, real acts of trauma.”


He concluded the statement by expressing gratitude toward the Auschwitz‑Birkenau Memorial “for all the important and vital work that they do... I believe we are very much on the same side and working toward the same goals. And I hope we can continue a dialogue on how to achieve those goals.”


10:23 a.m. Feb. 24, 2020: This story has been updated with a statement from “Hunters” creator David Weil.