Hugo Boss: 'regret' for Holocaust record

By Jennifer Lipman, September 22, 2011
Actor Orlando Bloom in a Hugo Boss ad campaign

Actor Orlando Bloom in a Hugo Boss ad campaign

The fashion company Hugo Boss has apologised for its wartime record following the publication of a book revealing new details of its Nazi past.

According to the book the German design firm, founded in 1924, took advantage of the Nazi campaign by using forced labour in its factory.

In total 180 Polish and French prisoners of war were made to work for Hugo Boss during the Holocaust, in extremely poor conditions with "uncertain" food and hygiene levels.

The new information about Mr Boss's record forms part of a biography of the designer, written by historian Roman Koester and commissioned by the fashion house.

While the designer's sympathetic views of the Nazis have been well-documented – after the war Mr Boss was fined for his dealings with the party - he always maintained that he joined the party to protect his company.

One of his early successes was winning the contract to supply the fledgling Nazi party with brown shirts. The company went on to produce uniforms for the German army and the Waffen SS.

But Mr Koester said Mr Boss' loyalties went further. "It is clear that he did not only join the party because it led to contracts for uniform production, but also because he was a follower of National Socialism," he said.

"One may not interpret Hugo F Boss' remarks to mean that he was personally far from National Socialism."

However Mr Koester said that while Mr Boss' behaviour towards the forced labourers was at times harsh, "concern for their welfare was also displayed, rendering simplistic characterisations impossible."

In a statement on the Hugo Boss website the company offered "profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule".

Last updated: 10:20am, September 22 2011