In Germany, Theodore Heuss Platz is the place’s post war name but somebody at Google Maps renamed it as Adolf Hitler Square after the World War II Nazi dictator. Upon realizing the error as pointed out by several users of the popular map service, Google immediately corrected it and issued an apology over the fiasco Thursday.
According to Lena Wagner, Google spokeswoman her company immediately changed the label to its correct name after discovering the error. Theodore Heuss is West Germany’s first post-World War II president who died in 1963. “In this particular case, the change in the street name was mistakenly approved, and we fixed it as soon as we were made aware…We apologize for any offense caused.” Wagner added.
A Google statement also mentioned that the wrong label was visible only for a few hours on Thursday. However, a report by Frederic Lardinois of Tech Crunch showed the error may have been online for a few days. It took several users to notice the error and alert Google about it before the company renamed it to its proper label, Lardinois said. Understandably, all things related to Nazis are taken seriously by present-day Germans and when it is brought back to consciousness through a popular map service it definitely caused a stir.
Anybody can suggest changes in names and labels at Google Maps. A group of moderators then checks and edits all submissions before the changes can go live. In this particular case, a certain “Anonym5394” on January 2 suggested renaming Theodore Heuss Platz after the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. A Google Maps moderator named “Vishali” who has approved 24,000 changes over the last 550 days, accepted the suggested name change. When users of the Google Maps saw the error, they quickly notified the company about this.
According to Lardinois, “In many ways, this is just another example of crowd-sourcing getting something wrong and then correcting itself.” Right now, Google Maps displays the correct label. Sascha Lobo, a German blogger and an internet expert told NBC News that the error was probably caused by the use of the map marker tool. Lobo said that it was mistakenly approved as Adolf Hitler Platz because the name was also historically correct.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was a leader of the Nazi Party. He was born in Austria but became involved in German politics. He rose to power and became the German Chancellor in 1933 and dictator of Nazi Germany in 1934 to 1945. He is responsible for the deaths of more than 11 million people including Jews in the implementation of his “Final Solution” plan. Hitler committed suicide in 1945 when defeat was imminent at the hands of the Allied forces.
During Hitler’s reign, many streets and squares were renamed after the Nazi dictator. The street and place in question is in western Berlin and occupies what the Nazis intended as the capital’s main axis in a remodeling of the city that was never completed.
Theodore Heuss Platz is the place’s post war name but somebody at Google Maps renamed it as Adolf Hitler Square. This may not be a big deal to most since employees at Google Maps edit thousands of entries daily but for the people of Germany and the millions of victims of World War II, the nightmares of the past may be hard to forget. It is but proper for Google to issue an apology for the renaming fiasco.
By Roberto I. Belda
The Vancouver Sun