The U.S. Holocaust Museum has also asked visitors to stop playing the popular app at the memorial

By Lindsay Kimble
Updated October 04, 2016 07:40 PM
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Credit: Pascal Parrot/Sipa

Many of the world’s most famous and solemn memorial sites are facing a surge of visitors who can’t seem to look away from their smartphones – because they’re catching Pokémon.

Following the release of the wildly popular app Pokémon Go, places like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and former concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland have had to ask visitors to refrain from playing the game while on-site.

“Allowing such games to be active on the site of Auschwitz Memorial is disrespectful to the memory of the victims of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp on many levels,” Pawel Sawicki, a spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial, told the New York Times. Sawicki said that the game’s makers – Niantic Inc – have been contacted in hopes that they will “not to allow the site of Auschwitz Memorial and other similar sites to be included in the game.”

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is also pleading with visitors to stop playing the app out of respect for the exhibits’ content.

“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told the Washington Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

The museum has been classified as a PokéStop in the game, which means players can visit the site to claim items like Poké balls. According to the Post, there are three PokéStops within the Washington, D.C., museum.

In addition, the museum Tweeted on Tuesday, “We welcome & encourage visitors to use technology to engage w/our exhibitions & programs while being respectful of our role as a memorial.”

During the Post reporter’s visit to the museum, she encountered several people playing the game, including 37-year-old Angie, who said, “It’s not like we came here to play, but gotta catch ’em all.”

Pokémon were also seen at New York City’s 9/11 memorial, according to Gothamist.

Arlington National Cemetery – a U.S. resting site for veterans – also addressed a surplus of Pokémon hunters on Tuesday.

“We do not consider playing ‘Pokémon Go’ to be appropriate decorum on the grounds of ANC,” the cemetery wrote. “We ask all visitors to refrain from such activity.”

The app is only currently available in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but someone could download it in one of those countries, and then travel to places like Poland.

While surging on the mobile app charts, Pokémon Go has already been reportedly responsible for a slew of personal injuries, as well as robberies.

Police are warning users to be wary of their surroundings after a group of teenagers in Missouri were recently arrested for armed robbery after allegedly using the app to lure victims to isolated locations.