One of Germany’s richest families is coming to terms with a disturbing past. The family that owns a controlling stake in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread, among others, will donate $11 million to charity after learning that their ancestors were staunch supporters of Adolf Hitler and extensively used force labor.
The family announced its planned charitable donation after Bild newspaper published a report showing how Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. used Russian civilians and French prisoners of war as forced laborers during World War II. The Reimann family, which has an estimated wealth of 33 billion euros, or $37 billion, did not dispute the findings of the newspaper’s report. “It is all correct,” spokesman Peter Harf, told the newspaper. “Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty … they belonged in jail.”
The family had already been looking into the issue before the newspaper’s report. Reimann senior, who died in 1954, and his son, who died in 1984, never talked about the company’s past and the family was apparently under the impression it already knew about its Nazi ties. But they started suspecting there may be more to the story and in 2014 commissioned a historian to examine the family history. The historian presented the conclusion a few weeks ago. “We were all ashamed and turned as white as the wall,” Harf, who is one of two managing partners of the JAB Holding Company, said. “There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.” The historian, Paul Erker of Munich University, is writing a book on his findings.
The Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Company also has controlling stakes in Keurig Dr. Pepper, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, and Pret a Manger, among others.*
Correction, March 25, 2019: This post originally misidentified Keurig Dr. Pepper as Keurig Green Mountain, the company’s former name.