This new trailer for Call of Duty: WW2's campaign has the type of stuff you'd expect for a cinematic war story: gunfire, explosions, lingering shots of fallen soldiers. But one scene in the middle, and its implications for the game's story as a whole, stands apart: this is a World War 2 game that addresses the Holocaust.
"Wer sind die Juden?" a Nazi officer asks a group of American prisoners of war. That translates to "Who of you are Jews?" Despite the soldiers' silence, the officer finds one who meets the criteria and beats him, then throws him into an open railcar. The soldier instantly goes from yet another captured American to a hated minority in the grip of a genocidal empire.
Call of Duty: WW2's story is fictional, but this kind of thing really did happen. You can read or listen to this NPR story about how Nazi Germany treated one group of Jewish-American POWs, literally working them to death to make underground tunnels. Meanwhile, their gentile counterparts were treated according to the international standards of the Geneva Convention. That was just on the Western front, though - more than half of all Russian POWs died in German captivity.
I've never heard of a World War 2 game that denies the Holocaust, but most that I've played sidestep it in favor of exploding pillboxes and desperate-sounding violin music. Just by watching the Call of Duty: WW2 trailer, it's impossible to tell how the game will treat this incredibly grave subject.
Is that brief scene from the trailer merely a setup for an action-packed train heist rescue mission, or is it an inroad for Sledgehammer Games to address the inhuman acts carried out miles and miles away from any battlefield? Is it appropriate to broach this kind of subject in a game that also includes a mode called "Nazi Zombies", or would it be even more inappropriate to avoid it? I don't know, honestly. But I'm interested to see how the developers handle it.