Kiwi comedian Raybon Kan was under fire last night for linking the Holocaust to All Black sponsor adidas and Auckland's Rugby World Cup travel woes.
Kan said online: "Maybe adidas should run Auckland public transport. Nice German company. They should know how to load thousands on to trains."
When asked to explain what he meant, Kan said: "Oh, it's just a joke about World War II. Well, you know, it's just a Nazi joke. It's a joke in the context of all the transport issues that were happening.
"I'm not a politician, I'm a comedian," he added.
About six million Jewish people were killed under Germany's Nazi regime. Many died on crowded trains on the way to concentration camps.
Kan said he had not had any complaints. "You're looking for offence that hasn't happened. I invite those people to email me," he said.
Kan, a writer, comedian and celebrity speaker, was touted as the country's "smartest" person after he took top prize on TV quiz show Test the Nation three times.
The comedian had also been MC for Amnesty International events, including a screening of a movie about a Burmese comedian who had been jailed for making political jokes.
The comment, uploaded to Twitter, brought back painful memories for the Jewish community. "It's quite sad that Raybon is referring to a tragic event like the Holocaust. He's crossed the line," Wellington Council of Christians and Jews secretary Dave Moskovitz said.
Kan's comment was equally unfair to the citizens of modern Germany, he added. "I usually find Raybon quite funny. It's disappointing. There really isn't anything funny about the Holocaust. Raybon has missed the mark this time."
The tweet, posted online on Wednesday, remained last night but Kan added an extra message to those who subscribe to his newsfeed: "Twitter is an open forum of back and forth, but if I don't know you've been upset, I can't respond, apologise or delete. Cheers."
New Zealand Jewish Council chairman Stephen Goodman said Kan belonged to a generation that had not dealt with the harsh realities of the Holocaust.
"But ignorance is not an excuse to trivialise what happened," he said.
Adidas public relations manager Sherryl Arneil said: "I don't think we need to dignify that with a response."
Last year BroTown creator David Fane, also a comedian, landed himself in hot water after an anti-semitic outburst at an industry event.
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