The German family that owns Einstein Bros., Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and Pret a Manger is speaking out about their family’s ties to the Nazi’s.
Peter Harf, a spokesperson for the family has set the record straight,
“It is all correct,” Harf said,
Harf is also one of two managing partners of JAB Holdings, which is a private conglomerate that owns Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and the other companies.
“There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting,” Harf told a British media outlet this month.
According to Harf, Albert Reimann Sr. And Albert Reimann Jr., whose family owns the controlling stakes in JAB Holdings both have direct links to the Third Reich.
An investigation into the family, which took place over a three- year period, and the family commissioned, discovered that Reimann Sr. and Jr. used civilian prisoners from Russia and French prisoners of war as slaves in their factories. They were both anti-Semites, who supported Adolph Hitler and donated to the paramilitary SS. Some of the donations were made before the Nazi’s came into power.
“Reimann Senior and Reimann Junior were guilty,” Harf stated, “The two men have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”
Harf added that the Reimann family has plans to donate $11 million to an unspecified charity in response to what took place.
“The whole truth must be put on the table,” Harf stated.
Albert Reimann Sr. Died in 1954 and Albert Reimann Jr. died in 1984.
During the investigation, investigators found a letter written by Reimann Jr. To a local mayor. In the letter, Reimann Jr. complained that the French prisoners of war weren’t working hard enough and he suggested they should be imprisoned.
“We were ashamed and white as sheets. There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.” Harf told CNN Business.
Harf shares that the family is planning on publishing a book next year that will outline the families ties to the Nazi’s. The family has commissioned a historian to write their story.
After discovering and reading family documents in 2014, the younger Reimanns made the decision to commission Paul Erker, a University of Munich historian to examine the family’s history closer.
“At the beginning of 2014 we decided: We want to know more,” Harf said. “Erker is to work through the Reimann story completely and independently.”
The Reimann’s are Germany’s second richest family. The family is worth an estimated $37 billion. The remaining five family members— Wolfgang Reimann, Renate Reimann-Haas, Stefan Reimann-Andersen, Matthias Reimann-Andersen, and Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli are worth at least $10 billion combined.
The four family members who own and run JAB today are descendants of German chemist Ludwig Reimann. The company is named after Ludwig Reimann’s business partner and father-in-law, Johann Adam Benckiser.
The family is a majority shareholder in beauty products company Coty, JAB has also acquired the following brands: Peet’s Coffee, Caribou Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia. In 2014 it purchased Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, which operates three national bagel chains.
JAB is not the first company to deal with this situation. Volkswagen, for instance, once used concentration camp internees and prisoners of war as forced labor. Volkswagen CEO recently publicly apologized for using a Nazi slogan “work sets you free” while giving a speech at a company-hosted event.
Harf admits that there is a direct line between the company that profited from those crimes and the present-day business interests of the Reimann children and grandchildren, and that, of course, is the family-owned company, JAB Holdings, has been in continuous operation since the early 1800s.
“Our stand at the time was: there were companies where things were worse than they were here,” Harf said,
There was a post-war investigation that initially banned the family company from staying in business, but that was overturned by the United States.
The family’s fortune began in 1828, when Ludwig Reimann, who was a chemist, joined Johann Adam Benckiser at the chemical company he founded five years earlier in Pforzheim, Germany. In 1858, the operation to Ludwigshafen, Germany. Reimann Jr. joined the firm in 1923, at the age of 25, he ran the company besides his father and uncles.
According to the Sun Journal, “during the 1950s and 1960s, Reimann Jr. transformed the business, introducing products such as Kukident denture adhesive cream in 1962, and Calgonit dishwasher detergent in 1964. In 1981, he hired Peter Harf, a former management consultant with a doctorate in economics from Cologne University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.”
Some of Germany’s biggest fortunes can be directly traced back to the Nazi era. The $36 billion wealth of Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, who are major shareholders of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, have ties to an industrial empire that built firearms and anti-aircraft missiles for the Third Reich’s war machine. Viktoria-Katharina Flick and twin brother Karl-Friedrich Flick are among the world’s youngest billionaires and they gained that fortune from another Nazi weapons manufacturer.