METZ: A French World War I memorial has been removed from Pokemon Go following complaints about players gathering to do battle at a site containing the remains of 130,000 soldiers, the site’s management said.
The Douaumont ossuary in northeast France contains the remains of some of the more than 300,000 French and German soldiers who died in the Battle of Verdun, one of the bloodiest of the 1914-18 conflict.
In 1984, then French president Francois Mitterrand visited the site with West German chancellor Helmut Kohl, with the pair joining hands to symbolise their countries’ post-war reconciliation.
Both the underground ossuary and the plaque commemorating the Mitterrand-Kohl handshake featured in the Pokemon Go smartphone app until last weekend when the game’s creator Niantic removed them at the site’s request, Douaumount spokeswoman Elodie Farcage said.
The ossuary had been the location of a Pokemon “gym”, where rival teams do battle, while the plaque was a Pokestop, where players could collect virtual items.
A spokeswoman for the nearby Verdun Memorial said it too was listed as a Pokemon gym. “But we have no Internet network here so the players cannot use it,” Emeline Villeseche said.
The nearby village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont, which was destroyed during the war, also features in the app.
The mayor of the area told AFP he would ask Niantic to remove it.
The French battlefields are not the first memorials to send players of the global sensation packing.
Washington’s Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have also asked visitors to show respect for the dead by refraining from playing the game there.