KFC’s German branch has apologized for seeming to encourage its customers to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht — the notorious Nazi pogrom against Jews — by eating chicken, saying that a promotional message was sent in error as a result of an automated push notification.
The pogrom that began on Nov. 9, 1938, is known as the night of broken glass, and is widely commemorated as the start of the Holocaust. It was a coordinated assault on German Jews and their homes, businesses and synagogues.
On Wednesday, KFC Germany sent a message to users of its app with the title “Anniversary of the Reich’s pogrom night,” according to reports in the German news media and screen shots of the promotion that circulated widely on Twitter. The message invited customers to enjoy “tender cheese with crispy chicken.”
KFC Germany quickly followed up with an apology within the app for having sent what it called an “incorrect” and “inappropriate” message. But criticism was swift and merciless.
“How wrong can you get on Kristallnacht @KFCDeutschland,” Dalia Grinfeld, the associate director for European affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, wrote on Twitter. “Shame on you!”
KFC Germany apologized again in a statement to news outlets, saying that its “obviously wrong, insensitive and unacceptable” message about Kristallnacht resulted from an automated push notification that had been sent by accident.
The statement added that the company has a “semi-automated content creation process linked to calendars that include national observances.”
“In this instance, our internal review process was not properly followed, resulting in a nonapproved notification being shared,” the statement said.
There was no mention of the episode on KFC’s German-language corporate website or Facebook page as of early Friday in Germany.
When the violence of Kristallnacht ended, 92 people had been killed, 30,000 had been sent to concentration camps and 1,400 synagogues were destroyed, according to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel.
Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, said in Parliament on Wednesday that the night of Nov. 9, 1938, would “forever remain a night of shame for our country.” Many Germans typically commemorate the attack by lighting candles and laying flowers on memorials or outside of synagogues.
But antisemitism remains a persistent problem in Germany, with some 10 percent of the population still holding views that Jews have too much power, according to recent studies.
Joe Ritchie contributed reporting.