German owner of Pret-a-Manger seeks to make amends for Nazi past

JAB Holding, the German owner of Krispy Kreme and Pret-a-Manger, has pledged to pay US$11.3 million to charity after the family-owned company’s ties to the Nazi party were revealed.

German newspaper Bild uncovered a significant historical connection between the wealthy Reimann family and the Nazis. The Reimann forebears were ardent antisemites and strong supporters of Hitler, and used both Russian and French slaves in their factories.

JAB Holding recently divested the Jimmy Choo and Bally businesses to shift its focus from apparel to food. It also owns Green Mountain Coffee, Panera bread, Mighty Leaf Tea, Caribou Coffee, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Einstein Bros Bagels and a 38 per cent stake in cosmetics giant Coty, among other investments.

According to the German newspaper report, JAB factory workers were treated brutally during the Hitler era. Female slaves were forced to attend barracks checks naked and suffered beatings and sexual abuse as punishment for refusal.

In a 1937 letter to SS leader Heinrich Himmler, Albert Reimann, Jr – the father of the four Reimann family members who now own the businesses – wrote that his company was more than 100 years old, and that the owners at the time were unconditional followers of the race theory.

“It is all correct,” family spokesman Peter Harf, who is one of two managing partners of JAB Holdings, told Bild.

“Reimann Senior and Reimann Junior were guilty. The two men have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”

The family has commissioned historian, Paul Erker of Munich University, to study its ties to the Nazi regime. Already four years in the making, more information will be released to the public when it is complete.

The report was commissioned by the family because it wanted to better understand the extent of their past connection to the Nazi regime. They are currently the second richest family in Germany.

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