By Andrew Lapin
The German branch of international fast-food chain KFC apologized to customers Wednesday for sending out a promotional message tied to the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the evening of Nazi-led antisemitic riots that precipitated the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
“It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken,” KFC Germany said in an initial push notification message to customers, in German, advertising its “KFCheese.”
A short time after, the chain sent a follow-up in all-caps: “SORRY WE MADE A MISTAKE.” The company blamed the message on “a bug in our system.”
Germany takes the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass,” seriously, even though Germans do not call the event by that name. Memorial events and discussions take place nationwide each year on Nov. 9-10 to reflect on Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews.
Reaction to KFC’s “mistake” came swiftly. Daniel Sugarman, director of public affairs for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, tweeted that the promotion was “absolutely hideous.” Arsen Ostrovsky, head of the pro-Israel legal group International Legal Forum, said he was “utterly speechless and repulsed.”
Meanwhile, another German institution came under fire for a Kristallnacht controversy this year. Goethe-Institut Israel, the Israeli location of the German language and cultural center, rescheduled a planned panel discussion on “the Holocaust, Nakba and German Remembrance Culture” that had been set to take place on the anniversary of the violence. The “Nakba” is the common Palestinian term for the mass displacement and deaths that accompanied the State of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry had criticized the Goethe-Institut for linking the Holocaust to the founding of the State of Israel on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, calling it “the blatant cheapening of Holocaust and the cynical and manipulative attempt to create a linkage whose entire purpose is to defame Israel.”