Destiny 2’s New Weekly Challenge Shares A Slogan With The Hitler Youth [Update: Bungie Apologizes, Says It Was Unintentional]

Illustration for article titled Destiny 2’s New Weekly Challenge Shares A Slogan With The Hitler Youth [Update: Bungie Apologizes, Says It Was Unintentional]
Screenshot: Bungie / Kotaku

A new weekly challenge in Destiny 2’s Season of the Chosen is called “Blood and Honor.” It’s a phrase that’s been seen in other fantasy media, but it’s also the English translation of the German phrase “Blut und Ehre,” one of the Nazi slogans used by the Hitler Youth.


What’s it doing in Destiny 2? I have no idea. The phrase is easy to miss, since it only briefly pops up when you complete eight War Table bounties for the week and get your resulting powerful engram reward. To someone unaware of the phrase’s history, it seems vaguely in keeping with the rest of Season of the Chosen nomenclature, which revolves around fighting a militant alien faction called the Cabal, a warrior race obsessed with things like blood and honor.

At the same time, the phrase’s secondary meaning wasn’t lost on some Destiny players, who picked up on it and posted about it on social media. The English phrase has been used in other fictional works that don’t appear to be intentionally referencing Nazis, like 1999’s Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor and World of Warcraft and Star Wars novelizations. But here’s Magneto referencing “Blut und Ehre” before killing two Nazis in the popular 2011 summer blockbuster X-Men: First Class. It’s also the name of a British neo-Nazi group with offshoots in the United States.

Screenshot: Bungie / Kotaku

The English version of the phrase on its own might read as an accidental oversight, but this week it’s joined by a new version of Season of the Chosen’s Battlegrounds activity in the Cosmodrome called “Battlegrounds: Cleansing,” in which you mow down legions of Cabal and loot treasure chests using Cabal gold, which, in the context of the activity’s name and the challenge, might evoke something similar to Nazi gold.

“It’s a lot to show up all at once, but I don’t make any assumptions about what’s going on internally or whether this is all accidental,” Destiny fanfiction writer MardinofChatzuk, one of the people who first pointed out the Blood and Honor reference, told Kotaku in a direct message. “Antisemitism is really prevalent and is pernicious because people can spread it without knowing they’re doing so.”


Bungie did not respond to a request for comment about how the phrase came to be used in the game, whether it was aware of its connection to Nazism, or if it plans to take it out.

Update - 4:34 p.m. ET, 2/17/21: A spokesperson for Bungie tells Kotaku that any references to the “blood and honor” Hitler Youth slogan or other anti-Semitic references were unintentional and will be addressed in an upcoming patch. They provided the following statement:

Any connection to anti-Semitism in Destiny is completely unintentional. Bungie is emphatically committed to inclusion and human rights, and will never stand for anti-Semitism. We are already preparing fixes in an upcoming patch. We apologize to all of our players that were hurt by the references, and we are grateful to our community for bringing their concerns to our attention.

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I dunno man, “blood” and “honor” are two pretttttty common words in video games, and putting them together seems like something that’s probably happened without any devious intentions more than a few times across the history of gaming. The fact that you’ve got to translate it from German first, too... ehh.

Who knows though, maybe there’s a secret neo-nazi working at Bungie and tossing a shoutout to his QAnon bros - that is probably a completely plausible scenario as well - but I think it’s more likely it was an accident.