Hunters true story: Is the Prime Video thriller based on real events?
There are factual elements in this largely fictitious series.
While fans of Prime Video's Hunters will be thrilled to see the series make its long-awaited return, it's important to acknowledge the show has faced some criticism for its historical inaccuracy.
The early trailers for the first season (via YouTube) stated that it was "inspired by true events", which perhaps contributed to the shock some viewers felt when it began depicting fictitious events of a disturbing nature.
For the second – and final – chapter, all claims of being factual have been thrown out the window, as our ragtag band of Nazi hunters set their sights on Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, who have lived to see the 1970s while exiled in South America.
Needless to say, this is not true.
However, the initial claim on the season 1 trailer was not entirely baseless as Nazi-hunting individuals have existed in the post-World War II era and they appear to have been the starting point from which this show spawned.
Here's everything you need to know about the inspiration behind Hunters, ahead of season 2 landing on Prime Video.
Is Hunters based on a true story?
Hunters presents a heightened version of 1970s America, where Nazis are plotting to implement a Fourth Reich with the help of a spy they have planted in the upper echelons of the United States government.
This particular incident never occurred, although it is true that some Nazi war criminals were able to evade capture and exile themselves to countries around the world.
Meanwhile, it is known that thousands of scientists from Nazi Germany were relocated to the United States and then-Soviet Union, under secret plans designed to give each nation an advantage in the brewing Cold War.
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The US operation, known as Operation Paperclip, is directly acknowledged in the first season of Hunters, with fictional FBI agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton) stumbling upon the case during a routine investigation.
The specific team of hunters featured in Prime Video's hit drama are not directly based on real people, although there are several historical cases of people who have devoted their lives to tracking down Nazi war criminals.
A noteworthy difference is that these efforts have usually focused on bringing them to justice in a court of law, rather than brutally murdering them as the characters in this series have a tendency to do.
One such peaceful hunter was Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who went on to assist in the capture of more than 1,000 Nazis over several decades. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 96.
The fictional team in Hunters also includes married couple Mindy and Murray Markowitz, portrayed by Carol Kane and Saul Rubinek respectively, who could have been inspired by examples of real-life husband-and-wife Nazi hunters.
For instance, Beate and Serge Klarsfeld have been honoured for their work bringing war criminals to justice, including former Gestapo leader Klaus Barbie, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 following their investigation.
Hunters controversy: Historical inaccuracy explained
When the first season of Hunters launched back in February 2020, it was fiercely criticised by the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, which condemned a fictional scene set in the infamous concentration camp.
The first episode features a disturbing scene in which a sadistic Nazi officer forces Jewish prisoners to kill each other while acting out a "real-life" game of chess.
In a statement on Twitter, the museum said: "Auschwitz was full of horrible pain and suffering documented in the accounts of survivors.
"Inventing a fake game of human chess for Hunters on Prime is not only dangerous foolishness and caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy."
Hunters creator David Weil responded that the chess scene was intended to "counteract the revisionist narrative that whitewashes Nazi perpetration, by showcasing the most extreme – and representationally truthful – sadism and violence that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews and other victims".
The screenwriter continued that he did not want to depict "specific, real acts of trauma" in the show, nor did he want any of its fictional characters to have the tattooed number of a real victim or survivor.
"I did not want to misrepresent a real person or borrow from a specific moment in an actual person’s life," he explained. "That was the responsibility that weighed on me every night and every morning for years, while writing, producing, editing this show."
Weil added: "If the larger philosophical question is can we ever tell stories about the holocaust that are not documentary, I believe we can and should. Hunters, like a myriad of acclaimed films on the subject, does not always adhere to literal truth in its pursuit of capturing the representational truth of the holocaust.
"My decision to fictionalise was made in awareness of this debate, and this show takes the point of view that symbolic representations provide individuals access to an emotional and symbolic reality that allows us to better understand the experiences of the Shoah and provide it with meaning that can address our urgent present."
Hunters is available to stream on Prime Video. Try Amazon Prime Video for free for 30 days. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.
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