On the 84th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht, also known as Kristallnacht or "The Night of Broken Glass," KFC sent the following message to thousands of smartphones:
"Commemoration of Kristallnacht – Treat yourself to more soft cheese and crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!"
About an hour later, another message was blasted out apologizing for the first one and calling it "an error in our system."
"We are very sorry; we will check our internal processes immediately so that this does not happen again," reads an apology that was also included. "Please excuse this error." (Related: Remember when KFC launched "buckets for the cure" to push its toxic fried chicken in the name of cancer awareness?)
Kristallnacht is known as the event that massacred Jews and sent 30,000 to concentration camps to be exterminated by the Nazi regime.
As a quick history lesson, Kristallnacht was the night when Nazi mobs reportedly destroyed synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany, killing 92 Jews and sending another 30,000 to concentration camps.
That night is considered to be the starting point of the Nazi regime, which makes the first KFC promotional text somewhat tone deaf – assuming it was intentional.
There is a small chance, it would seem, that the message truly was an error – unless, perhaps, the promotional tools used by the company automatically pair promotions with holidays as they appear on the calendar.
It might just be that the system picked up on the claim that Kristallnacht was a holiday, but did not differentiate it from other more celebratory holidays such as Christmas.
In a statement to Newsweek, KFC claimed just that, insisting that an "automated push notification was accidentally issued to KFC app users in Germany that contained an obviously unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message and for this we sincerely apologize."
"We use 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 non-approved notification being shared. We have suspended app communications while we examine our current process to ensure such an issue does not occur again. We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all."
Whatever the case may be, KFC is back in the news for all the wrong reasons because of the incident, which strangely enough is not isolated. Kanye West is also back in the news for tweeting a strange message about "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE," the meaning of which is unclear.
Several corporations immediately cut ties with West over the tweet, and he was also temporarily locked out of his Twitter account as punishment.
NBA player Kyrie Irving was also accused of spreading antisemitic messages on social media, resulting in his being suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for at least five games. He responded to this by issuing an apology for his "failure to disavow antisemitism."
Here is how one commenter at Newsweek explains what probably happened at KFC Germany:
"Programmer gets a requirement to create a process that sends out an advert related to 'events' on some calendar database. Some clerk is assigned a task to add events to calendar database. Clerk gets list of events off the internet somewhere not knowing anything about the process. AND THE REST IS HISTORY."
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