LOS ANGELES -- With piercing blue eyes, a computer graphic of Adolf Hitler tells players in an underground video game that they have been "promoted" for running a skillful Nazi death camp and efficiently gassing the "parasites" from the German population.
In a chilling commercialization of the Holocaust and an exploitation of computer game technologies, a game centered on the killing of concentration camp prisoners is one of scores of anti-Jewish and anti-Turk games now circulating among computer software users in Austria and Germany.
Warning of "insidious" games that can have an ugly, harmful influence on thousands of young people, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center yesterday demonstrated a few copies from some 140 Aryan or Nazi computer games that researchers say are being circulated in Europe and may soon find their way to the United States.
Computer games distributed by underground computer software outfits with names such as "Adolf Hitler Software Ltd." and "Hitler and Hess" include one game in which a player manages the gassing of Turks at a concentration camp, selling the gold teeth of the dead in order to buy more poison and then build more gas chambers.
Computer graphics lauding a player's advancement include a Nazi SS officer in front of a hanging, bloody death camp victim and another showing a dead victim in a gas chamber.
"What is new here is that young people are willing to allow themselves to be introduced to the world of computers though such filth and hate," said Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Alleging that the video games are a calculated promotion by radical right-wing groups, the Wiesenthal Center reported that it has obtained copies of eight of the 140 games reportedly being circulated in Austria.
According to one Austrian newspaper poll, 39 percent of high school students were familiar with the games and 22 percent actually played them.
Heir said he believed that the computer games had a similar following in Germany, although he had no statistical evidence.
The Wiesenthal Center, renowned as the largest Holocaust studies institute in North America, has also forged a reputation for its diehard pursuit of Nazi war criminals. Heir said the center also will seek the arrests of distributors of the computer games under German laws against Nazi propaganda.