Skip to main content

European Business German family that owns Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread will donate millions to charity for Nazi ties

One of Germany’s richest families, whose company owns a controlling interest in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Panera Bread, Pret a Manger and other well-known businesses, plans to donate millions to charity after learning about their ancestors’ enthusiastic support of Adolf Hitler and use of forced labourers under the Nazis, according to a report Sunday.

In a four-page report, the Bild newspaper reported that documents uncovered in Germany, France and the U.S. reveal that Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. used Russian civilians and French POWs as forced labourers.

Family spokesman Peter Harf, who is one of two managing partners of the Reimann’s JAB Holding Company, said recent internal research confirmed Bild’s findings.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is all correct,” he told the newspaper. “Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty ... they belonged in jail.”

Family spokesman Peter Harf, who heads the Reimann family’s JAB Holding Company. (File Photo).

Soeren Stache/The Associated Press

The father and son, who died in 1954 and 1984, did not talk about the Nazi era and the family had thought that all of the company’s connection to the Nazis had been revealed in a 1978 report, Harf said.

But after reading documents kept by the family, the younger generation began to ask questions and commissioned a University of Munich historian in 2014 to examine the Reimann history more thoroughly, Harf said.

The expert presented his preliminary findings to the Reimann children and grandchildren, as well as Hanf, several weeks ago, he said.

“We were all ashamed and turned as white as the wall,” he said. “There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.”

In addition al Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pret a Manger, the Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co. has controlling stakes in Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., Panera Bread and other companies.

Many German companies have acknowledged using slave labourers during the Nazi era and have conducted their own independent investigations.

Story continues below advertisement

In 2000, the German government approved a 10 billion mark (about 5.1 billion euro) fund to provide compensation, with half the money coming from companies like Bayer, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, and AEG.

Bild reported that even before the Nazis came to power, the Reimanns donated to the paramilitary SS.

During World War II, the company used forced labourers in its industrial chemicals company. It was not clear how many were used overall, but Bild said in 1943, 175 forced labourers were being used, about 30 per cent of its workforce.

In addition to Russian and other Eastern European civilians, the company used French prisoners of war — about whom Reimann Jr. complained in a letter to the Ludwigshafen mayor in 1940 that they weren’t working hard enough.

After the war, the two were investigated by the occupying Allied powers and initially banned by the French from continuing their business activities but then had the judgment overturned by the Americans, Bild reported.

Harf said the family would donate 10 million euros ($11.3 million) to a not-yet-determined charity as a gesture, and once the historian’s report is complete, it would be released to the public.

Story continues below advertisement

“The whole truth must be put on the table,” he said.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter