KFC Germany pitches crispy chicken to mark Kristallnacht, apologizes

Fast food chain sends push alert saying ‘treat yourself to more tender cheese’ for anniversary of Nazi pogrom, says bug in system accidentally sent message

In Graz, Austria, onlookers watch a smoldering synagogue the morning after Kristallnacht, November 10, 1938 (public domain)
In Graz, Austria, onlookers watch a smoldering synagogue the morning after Kristallnacht, November 10, 1938 (public domain)

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s German branch apologized on Wednesday after inviting customers in the country to mark the anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews with “tender cheese” and crispy chicken.

Germans were taken aback to receive a push message from the fast food chain declaring: “Memorial day of the Reich pogrom night: Treat yourself to more tender cheese with crispy chicken.”

The message caused outrage on social media.

A few minutes later, KFC sent a second push: “Sorry, an error occurred. Due to a bug in our system, we sent an incorrect and inappropriate message through our app.”

It said internal processes would be checked immediately “so that this does not happen again.”

Kristallnacht, meaning the “night of broken glass,” was the Nazi-led anti-Jewish pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, that swept through towns across Germany and Austria.

It marked a brutal turning point in antisemitic persecution under the Nazis and presaged the horrors to come.

Over several days, rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues, looted thousands of businesses, killed at least 91 Jews and 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps. Wednesday is the 84th anniversary of the massacre.

Germany has long grappled with how to reckon with its Nazi past, including Kristallnacht, a name many Germans no longer use because it sounds too benign.

The KFC uproar came on the heels of a controversy sparked by the Goethe-Institut Israel which announced a Kristallnacht event in Tel Aviv called “Grasping the Pain of the Others – Panel Discussion on the Holocaust, Nakba and German Remembrance Culture.”

The Goethe-Institut Israel later apologized and postponed the event after fierce criticism from Israeli and German officials.

While delaying the event, the institute did not address criticism of the equivalency drawn between the Holocaust and the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” the name Palestinians and many Israeli Arabs use for the Arab defeat in the 1948 Israeli Independence War, which led to the establishment of the Jewish state.

The Goethe-Institut is the cultural arm of Germany and is intended to facilitate cultural exchanges around the globe.

Israel’s national Holocaust museum and memorial Yad Vashem on Wednesday published chilling, previously unseen photos that show the pogrom from up close.

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