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17 May, 2017 18:40

Burger King in court amid outrage over flyers at Dachau concentration camp

The museum at the infamous Dachau concentration camp is at war with a local Burger King, embroiled in a legal battle over the fast-food restaurant's practice of handing out flyers in the parking lot of the memorial site.

The two sides went to court Wednesday, with the memorial site's head, Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, telling The Local that uniformed Burger King employees continued to distribute the brochures despite being asked to stop.

Hammermann called the action "disrespectful," stating that "for many, Dachau is not just a memorial but a cemetery."

The employees attach the flyers to the sides of visitors' cars or put them under the windshield wipers, Die Welt reported. Many visitors have complained about the brochures at the memorial site, according to Hammermann.

According to Dachau staff, the flyers have been put out for years. However, the museum only decided to act after employees were caught passing out brochures on the same day the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” gate was returned to the camp after being stolen.

Dachau staff say they initially tried contacting the Burger King branch's manager, Ronny Otto, to ask that he stop distributing flyers at the site. However, their efforts were futile.

"We were looking for a conversation several times with the operator, but he was never available for us," Hammerman said, as quoted by Die Welt. "We were always able to speak only with the employees."

They then attempted to go above Otto, contacting Burger King Germany.

A spokesperson from Burger King Germany told The Local that the company "repeatedly asked [Otto] to reach an out-of-court agreement with the concentration camp memorial."

However, Otto was seemingly uninterested in coming up with a solution, and the Bavarian Memorials Foundation took legal action. An interim injunction was granted in March by the State Court.

Otto appealed, and the case was reopened in Munich on Wednesday.

In a statement, Burger King Germany said that they "very much regret that it has come to today's Court of Justice session."

Meanwhile, Burger King isn't the only fast-food restaurant to clash with Dachau – its arch-rival McDonald's faced a similar situation in 1996, when it was caught putting flyers on the cars of visitors parked at the site, Hammermann said.

However, McDonald's was fully compliant after Dachau asked it to stop passing out the brochures, with the local manager issuing a full letter of apology.

Hammerman said Dachau staff had "assumed that Burger King would do the same and stop [handing out flyers], but they never did stop.”

Such behavior on the part of Burger King is completely unacceptable, as it trivializes the Holocaust, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush believes.

“They seem to think that it’s more important to advertise burgers than to respect the victims that were murdered in huge numbers at Dachau,” Arkush told RT. “I’m concerned about any source of trivialization or denial of the Shoah wherever it occurs. And it is occurring in to many places across our continent at the moment."

Opened in 1933, Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp. It was initially built to detain political prisoners, but was later turned into a death camp where more than 41,000 Jews died.

‘We regret it reached the court’ – Burger King to RT

In a response to this story, Burger King Germany sent a statement to RT, reassuring that the company was aware of “social and ethical responsibilities."

“As a provider of the Burger King Franchise, we have repeatedly told an independent restaurant at the Gaußstraße in Dachau, to reach an out-of-court agreement with the Concentration Camp memorial,” reads Burger King’s letter to RT. “Nevertheless, we regret very much that the incident reached the court.”

The company, however, “welcome the agreement reached between the Franchise restaurant with the Dachau concentration camp memorial.”

“As the head company of the franchise we deeply regret that the incident happened and has assured the Dachau concentration camp memorial that such an incident will not be repeated,” the statement reads.