Nazi Training Camps and Dead Boys In Trees

by Alphaville Herald on 19/02/05 at 1:18 am

Athel Richelieu and Grandduke Ferdinand face-off at Tom Bukowski’s residence in Dowden, following an Ethnography discussion event.

Neal Stewart takes a look at a face-off between two Second Life residents over an SS training camp – one is the builder and the other reported the abuse.

Apparently in his first life Grandduke Ferdinand is a 23 year-old Firefighter/Emergency-Medical-Technician. He’s been doing it for seven years but only lately is it starting to really get to him. Grandduke is now leaving the service to attend business college. He claims that the night before we spoke, he had “held a guy’s guts in while he died” and recently attended a call where a 7-year old boy and his mother were killed in a car-accident. He says the child’s body found was in a nearby tree.

And I believe him.

“So you see all that and yet you still sound like you hold inhumane views. Like the SS was somehow glamorous,” Athel Richelieu comments to Grandduke.

In Second Life, Grandduke (yes, that Grandduke) has just returned from a 7-day ban – for contributing to a build of a Schutzstaffel (SS) training camp, replete with propaganda posters and the trademark thunderbolt imagery. Only moments after watching The Pianist, Athel had logged onto SL and discovered the camp. He was offended by the Nazi symbolism, particularly since he is gay and well-versed on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. He abuse-reported it, the Linden fairies leveled the build and Athel is poised to take on what he fears may become a growing tide of Nazi and extremist elements to SL.

Amazingly, the two only discovered each others’ involvement in the controversy when Grandduke happened to overhear Athel and I discussing the subject.

Grandduke showed us his cap with the Death Head (‘Totenkopf’) and Third-Reich Eagle-Swastika badges. The Swastika has been distorted by lopping off one of the arms and twisting those remaining, and in this form is what Grandduke calls ‘Linden-approved’. But Athel is apparently no less offended by the remaining Death Head than he is by the Swastika. What was most interesting to me however was not the subject of the SS-camp conflict but the way the heated exchange between Athel and Grandduke played out.

Athel Richelieu enjoys a quiet smoke on the balcony

Conflict in Second Life is not the same conflict you’d find in a chat room or a MMORPG game like World of Warcraft. In WOW (if we were to pretend that the alliance and the horde could communicate) you might abuse one another and hang around your enemy’s territory. All of the land, objects and buildings are created and staged by Blizzard, the company behind Warcraft. If a conflict spills into the virtual parking lot, it’s not particularly personal – the parking lot was chosen, positioned and asphalted by the powers that be. The relationship between the players and the land they live in is themed and purely semantic. Digli the balding dwarf didn’t spend 36 hours building the tavern at Ironforge.

In Second Life it’s different.

If you get into a debate or a conflict with another resident in SL, you may become a part of the personal world that they live in and have built with their own code, prims and textures. In IRC, the guy you’re arguing with quits the session and you’ll never see him again. In SL, he may retire to a building he has personally made and paid for with money from his First Life. Pictures of him and his friends’ avatars may be framed throughout his home. You might watch through the living-room window while he streams his favourite music and plays Chess with his girl-friend.

In Warcraft the worst that’s gonna happen is he’ll gang-kill you with his friends and maybe try his hand at spawn-camping. That’s about it. In Second Life he’ll hover in the distance and rez a pair of tan-coloured deer humping on your living-room table. He may try and ruin your wedding. He might cost you real money by convincing hundreds of people that your blackjack tables are rigged. In SL, conflict has an uncommon gravity and complexity.

None of those things took place in the conflict between Duke and Athel.

Except for the thing with the deer.

For several hours they debated the subtleties of racism, genocide, Nazism and community standards. A URL or a rezzed picture flying through the ether to back an argument. That’s something you can’t do in a street-discussion in your first life – produce relevant statistics directly from Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Neal, are you writing a story? Well, if you do, don’t forget….” says Grandduke. Don’t forget what? He emits a Right Said Fred audio sample and suddenly starts shaking his hips: “I’m too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts…”.

This is during a conversation about Jews killed in gas chambers.

The conversation between the mild-mannered gay Jazz-Club-owner in a tuxedo and the right-wing ex cage-fighter in his sheep underwear.

In Second Life you find yourself gradually being conditioned and co-opted into an illusion. The process is as much about self-conditioning as it is about responding to external influences. There are elaborate social rewards and insights to be had from contributing to the shared hallucination. You know that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes but you eventually realize that you don’t care, because the emperor – butt-naked – is one sexy bastard.

The effect that this has is to imbue all of the objects and physical context around you with significance. When you’re sitting in the couch in someone’s SL lounge-room, you’d be hard-pressed to identify ways that – in terms of meaning and origin – it’s any different from their real lounge.

What was most interesting about the discussion between Athel and Grandduke was that something about the way they had spoken to each other, for so long – and in this compelling physical space that I have spoken about – something about it eventually led to them them sharing profoundly personal information about their first lives. Like two opposing protestors at an abortion rally who somehow end up discussing what it’s like to lose a loved one in a car-accident.

But I’m not saying it’s all Little House On The Prairie.

One day they’ll probably stumble upon each other in Jessie…

Athel (left), Grandduke (right)

14 Responses to “Nazi Training Camps and Dead Boys In Trees”

  1. Artemis Fate

    Feb 19th, 2005

    I think a big part of Jessie is knowing that all the historical propoganda built there is built with a tongue in cheek. Pretty much all the WWIIOLers are WWII buffs and they all love to discuss it (especially the weapons. To no end. Whether you want them to or not. That means you chaunsey.) And it’s something they’re passionate for and something they’re around. But by no means are any of them nazis. Most of them work in some kind of government job even whether it be military/navy/marines (active duty or not) or otherwise.

    You’ve got to have a sense of appreciation for history and a sense of humour if you want to go through Jessie, but really the world of SL nowadays is so quick to be offended that they dont even notice when things are very neat. (*cough cough* Lordfly’s zombie invasion *cough cough*)

    Good article though.

  2. Wen Nomad

    Feb 19th, 2005

    I completely agree with Artemis on this one, Grandduke and the other WWIIOLers have built items in game that could be considered extemely offensive to many, but the fact is they are very much history buffs, and not Nazis. You can ask anyone who was around when the WWIIOLers were around, and took the time to actually talk to them, and find that they are not about Nazi ideas, but just the era. They choose to dress as Germans and build German structures because in the game WWII Online, they played on the Axis side. Anyways I hope thier conversation ended up with a positive result of some sort, or at least a little understanding. Otherwise where is chaunsey when you need him?

  3. Athel Richelieu

    Feb 19th, 2005

    The build in question was not in Jessie, it was in Sido, and was intent as a serious build. They also formed a group called 3 Reich, and got in trouble for that without a report by me. We had a serious conversation, and Grandduke seems to sincerely believe things such as “The Holocaust didnt kill 6 million people, that is a lie”, and that Hitler “shouldnt be the most hated person in the world, that he was a very smart man”. And Grandduke discussed this with seriousness at some points, without seeming overly inflammatory but sincerely debating, so he really believes these things.

  4. Artemis Fate

    Feb 20th, 2005

    Well, it never mentioned it was in Sido, and Grandduke usually never leaves Jessie. (generally because of stuff like this) go figure. And Hitler was a smart man, a genius really. But calling him a smart man doesnt mean I agree with what he did. And Grandduke is the kind of guy who’d take the oppurtunity of an offended person as an oppoturnity to mess with their head. He probably said that 6 million people werent killed in the holocaust because 6 million is not an exact figure. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s shown nothing to say that he’s a nazi, he respects hitler as a man who took a nation that’d lost hope into a world power but not as a man who slaughtered millions, (it might also be mentioned that Stalin a person who was on our side slaughtered more innocent people then hitler, but it’s never mentioned because he was on our side. Funny how that works)

  5. Grandduke Ferdinand

    Feb 20th, 2005

    WoW nothing like chopping up what I say and taking out of content “The Holocaust didn’t kill 6 million people, that is a lie”, and that Hitler “shouldn’t be the most hated person in the world, that he was a very smart man” Said by Athel Richelieu”
    Well first I don’t think it was 6 million Jew’s by direct killing. Then also I said, Hitler should not be considered the most “evil” nor most hated because such as Kim Jung Il , Saddam Hussen, and the worst ever Joe Stalin. Have killed millions more, I’m not saying Hitler wasn’t “evil”. And I did say Hitler was very smart in the art of warfare and running a country, hell he took over most of west Europe.

  6. Chaunsey

    Feb 20th, 2005

    Blah, we’ve built training camps before, not just german but for instance we were doin some stuf from the 101st airborne camp toccoa (sp?) but we dont use swastika’s, deaths head marks, etc.

    So if SS imagery was used, then I agree he went to far, i ahd’nt been around to see it so i dont know what was shown.

    As for grandduke, he’s no nazi, despite the imagery, he tends to be of the opinion we shoundt censor history, no matter the content.

    For instance there are many people who wear that imagery on reproduction uniforms for use in re-enactemnt battles, there are people of all kinds including jews and im sure some gay people even who do it.

    These people arent nazi’s, just fascinated with history really.

    If you want to discuss this in more detail however, I’m always glad to oblige…as artemis pointed out :-P .

  7. Athel Richelieu

    Feb 20th, 2005

    Well Artemis, I personally feel you dont understand at all. If you knew what I and my friends know about grandduke and his associate, or at least his associate you would understand where I was coming from. Yes, Grandduke may have exaggerated just for the attention, as he seems like that type. But plainly, the SS training camp was offensive not only to me but others. And the comments from Grandduke did make him come across as somewhat Pro-Nazi. But I dont think you should comment when you dont even know the full story, Artemis.

  8. Artemis Fate

    Feb 20th, 2005

    Yeah Grandduke, sorry you had to run into people like this, but there’s always atleast one of these insanely moralistic and extremely uptight people to cast their I’m right you’re wrong shadow of judgement over you. Recently he started griefing me and telling me I was wrong after I was defending you. It’s just a real shame that they let people like Athel in SL.

  9. Athel Richelieu

    Feb 20th, 2005

    Alright I am going to get tired of commenting on these people and this situation.

    Plainly, the build offended people. It offended a Jewish person, it offended me, and it offended others. People find Grandduke and his associate who built it offensive.

    But I am writing grandduke off as just another immature griefer, even though his views on the Holocaust and such he seemed to sincerely subscribe to and from what he said his associate is truly Pro-Nazi or even a modern day Nazi. A “today Nazi” as he said she thought of herself.

    If Grandduke is indeed a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, I cringe at the thought of him being the person saving me in an emergency.

    Whatever his intents and purposes, it is a very juvenile attitude to think you should get your entertainment off of being the most offensive as you can be to illicit a response. Thats 5th grade thinking, very immature.

    And if it is just to challenge “authority” and the “standards of society” as another friend of his makes it sound like it is something philosophical, it is even more juvenile and ridiculous.

    Obviously these are very immature people. Well now Grandduke has formed a group called “The Manson Family” and built what appears to be a shrine to Manson or some kind of run down building with a picture of Charles Manson. Now I am not even really agitated at all, I just feel sorry for these poor immature people. Its sad that you have to get your entertainment by being as stupid and offensive as possible in a virtual world. It shows very much a lack of maturity.

  10. Peter Kale

    Feb 20th, 2005


    Saddam Hussein has killed more people than Hitler? He is more hated than Hitler? This reply demonstrates one of two things: that you are easily manipulated by propaganda, or that you’re scrambling to cover your ass. Saddam Hussein in no shape, way, or form even approaches a tenth of the evil of Hitler. The same is true of Kim Jong Il.

    Now, Stalin was a pretty horrible dude, but is he really more vile than Hitler? Mere body count does not accurately describe monstrosity. In the end, I think it’s a coin flip. They’re both horrible people. But this is really like arguing about the smell of shit: only an idiot would savor the smell of one simply because it stunk slightly less than the other.

  11. Artemis

    Feb 20th, 2005

    It’s pretty obvious at this point that Athel isn’t responding to anything anyone else says, seems like he just skims over replies and then posts the same thing he posted last time but in different words. One thing about growing up is listening to others, I understand you’re offended, and maybe I might learn to get offended by everything I see (next time I play Wolfenstein I’ll get offended for the nazi imagery, or next time I play Diablo i’ll get offended for the “devil imagery” then I can spend my days writing angry letters to companies and people trying to push my beliefs on them). But if this build is so offensive to everyone how is it that i’m not offended by it? Is it that the offensive of this build in question comes from a person who is too uptight about what is done in SL and the use of historical content? Or is it that this build and the many others like it that have been in Jessie really aren’t even offensive at all unless you make it that way?

    But either way as i’ve said to Athel in SL and as i’ll say now, all that his character has shown to me is that what he’s saying now is what he’ll always be saying and that nothing short of a religious icon of your or his choice coming down from the religious place of your choice and telling him he’s wrong is going to change his mind. It’s just what i’d call closed minded.

  12. Ashley Alexander

    Feb 20th, 2005

    While I don’t advocate in any way the use of hate-group imagery, it’s really none of my business what someone does in their personal life or their second life. If I want to be a bisexual hermaphrodite silver fox (which I am ^-^), then I should be allowed to do so, right? But that doesn’t mean I have the right to wear my naughty bits in the welcome area…

    What I’m saying is that we all have our fantasies, whether it’s owning a slave or flying without wings. I understand the need to be different, unique. I also understand how fun it can be to freak people out a little. However, I do think it’s unfortunate that some people feel they need to be as shocking as possible to get attention. I wish they could realize that they can appreciate the era of history they love without letting their naughty bits dangle in the wind.

    The German technology and the tactics they used are often considered superior for the era. I tend to agree. However, the horrific practices of those in charge cannot be overlooked.

    You can’t separate two metals without intense heat, and it looks like there may be too much heat required for this one.

  13. Mike czukor

    Feb 21st, 2005

    i think this is non sense,sl is a huge virtual world with hundreds of sims and many places to go.why would you spend your time complaining about someones build,i do think hitler is a scumbag and was a horrible man but why fight about it and about their build.who cares go to any of the other countless sims in sl and build something and help the community or do some thing other than fighting of bullshit.i got banned for 14 days cuase of some bullshit about my uniform i was given and i did not deserve that since i had no “nazi symbols” on the way why the hell do you people keep complaining?theres a million things you can be doing but no you insist on pissing people the f*** off,why dont you get off the game,go to another sim,lock yourself in a dam house but dont report people for trying something. o and rember its JUST A GAME god you people are pathetic. anyway hope this ends it

  14. da man

    Feb 1st, 2007

    Damn you nazis I dnt care if its a virtual world racism is damn wrong. Rascism is wrong and if you promote it you are wrong. I’m a big fighter and I understand that as long as there is a man; there will be wars and we must fight for peace or get taken over and i feel that rascism is HORRIBLE. who cares whos a bigger killer what is going on is the promotion of hate and discrimination. I believe in fighting for a cause but I dont believe in racsism and I believe hitler and saddam and stalin are horrible and I know they are in HELL and burning for eternity.

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