Nazi past of kosher cake firm Dr Oetker

'Dr Oetker’ was in SS with ties to Himmler

By Jonathan Kalmus, October 24, 2013
Dr Oetker home baking products (Photo: Dr Oetker)

Dr Oetker home baking products (Photo: Dr Oetker)

Kosher consumers are considering ditching a popular brand of baking product after it was revealed the company’s founders were Nazis linked to Hitler.

German firm Dr Oetker produces home baking ingredients sold in Britain under the supervision of the Manchester Beth Din.

The products are used in thousands of kosher homes.

But amateur bakers and store owners this week said they would stop buying Dr Oetker items after the company admitted the depth of its involvement with the Third Reich.

Company founder Rudolf-August Oetker was a member of the SS who trained at a college connected to the Dachau concentration camp. Jewish victims from the camp were used as cleaners at the school.

Details of a three-year research project ordered by his son, August Oetker, were revealed in a book published this month and showed that the company’s original bosses funded and influenced Nazi policy and had close ties to Himmler.

Chuny Rokach, owner of Kosher Kingdom in Golders Green, north-west London, said Dr Oetker’s Nazi past was “something to take into consideration” before a decision was taken on whether to stop selling the products.

Kosher cake company boss Batya Bassin said: “I would definitely rethink using the products and look elsewhere — for the same reason I wouldn’t buy a BMW. My husband’s family were survivors. I wouldn’t support something like that.”

Jenny Hollander, who runs a baking business in Hendon, said she was shocked. “I wouldn’t automatically go to the product now.”

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, of the Manchester Beth Din, said the full details of what happened at the “prestigious company” during the Holocaust were “disturbing”. But he added: “We are gratified to learn that … following an investigation it has recognised and acknowledged the sins of the past.”

There was some sympathy for Oetker’s relations, who uncovered the scandal. Anna Shenkin, a 24-year-old mother-of-four from Prestwich, Manchester, has regularly used Dr Oetker products for birthday cakes.

She said: “I support how the family has made such an effort to turn things around, come out in the open and spent a lot of money doing that. It’s commendable,” she said.

Shopper Alex Cohen said: “Personally, I’m not bothered. They’re not Nazis any more. If a Volkswagen is cheaper than a Toyota, buy the Volkswagen. If they were still spouting Nazi ideologies or antisemitism, that would be one thing. But the fact is they now seem to be an ethical company with decent products.”

Last updated: 4:58pm, October 24 2013