The owners of several popular companies, including Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread, are confronting their ancestors' Nazi ties.
The Reimann family came clean after German newspaper Bild published a story about Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, Albert Reimann Jr., using Nazi slave labor during World War II, reports NBC News.
Family spokesman Peter Harf said the allegations were “all correct.”
The laborers worked in an industrial chemical factory owned by JAB Holdings, a company founded by Reimann. The victims also worked in villas owned by the family. It is unclear how many people were used, but documents reviewed by Bild claim the prisoners comprised 30 percent of their workforce in 1943. The men were also vocal supporters of Adolf Hitler and donated funds toward his paramilitary SS force in 1933.
Reimann Sr. died in 1954 and his son in 1984, but Harf believes “they actually belong in prison," according to CBS.
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JAB Holding owns several popular brands including Peet's Coffee, Caribou Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia. The company bought Panera Bread in 2017 and Krispy Kreme the year before.
The family was investigating the Nazi connection before the Bild story broke. Harf said the family was “ashamed” of the information. The Reimanns plan to donate $11 million in charity to atone for their ancestors’ misdeeds.
The Washington Post reports the family commissioned historian Paul Erker from Munich University to research the depth of the family’s ties to the Nazi Party.
“It is about an overall story also in the industry context, but in which the subject of forced labor plays a central role,” Eker said. “The mandate includes absolute scientific independence and unrestricted access to files, including the Benckiser Archive and family records. I ask for your understanding that I cannot provide any information on the details and results of the ongoing project.”
Harf promised Erker’s findings would be available to the public.
“There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting,” Harf said. “As soon as the book by Professor Erker is finished, we will publish it. Unadorned. We will not interfere. The whole truth has to be on the table. “
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