There’s a “Schindler’s List”-themed escape room in Greece — and it’s in a city that lost 96% of its Jewish population in the Holocaust.
In escape rooms, participants are locked in a room and tasked with finding clues to break out. Freelance writer Margarita Gokun Silver wrote about her experience at one such room, in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was actually called “Schindler’s List” and played the theme song from the Steven Spielberg film during the opening instructions.
The escape room was decorated to look like 1930s Europe, with antique furniture, soft lighting and yellowing books. It was harrowingly reminiscent of the Holocaust, Gokun Silver wrote, with references to the Auschwitz death camp in the introduction and the background sounds of people screaming and Germans shouting. A suitcase was placed under the couch, a metal-mesh fence lined the room and hints were announced with a gunshot. The objective, she explained, was to find “a list of innocents.”
The escape room can be found just a block away from both the Jewish Museum and the offices of Jewish Community Center. Silver found the activity shocking, especially since it had no mention of the city’s history: For five centuries, Thessaloniki was the center of Greece’s Jewish life, known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans. By the time of World War II, there were 50,000 Jews.
Then the Germany army took over. The Nazis humiliated the Jewish citizens for two years before deporting almost 44,000 to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
There are now about 1,300 members of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, Silver reported. There’s a memorial for Jewish victims, and a Holocaust museum is being built. The prominent members of the Thessaloniki Jewish community told Silver they didn’t know about the “Schindler’s List” escape room.
Silver said the owners of the escape room didn’t seem to be concerned; in fact, the staff said they considered it educational. They changed the name from Schindler’s List to Secret Agent within hours of her visit, but they didn’t show up to a scheduled interview and ignored multiple requests for comment. The parent company in Athens refused to speak, as well, and both continue to offer the game.