Germany’s second richest family will donate over £8 million to charity after a report it commissioned revealed the extent of their patriarch’s involvement with the Nazi regime, including the businesses benefit from slave labour.
The German tabloid Bild reported members of the Reimann family — which has controlling stakes in Krispy Kreme, Dr Pepper and other global brands — commissioned Professor Paul Erker of Munich university to research their family’s wartime history.
His report left members of the family “speechless… white as a sheet”, according to Peter Harf, who was speaking on behalf of the family and said the revelations were shocking even though they had some knowledge of links between the Nazis and the head of the family Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, Albert Reimann Jr.
Details of the report showed that both Albert Sr and Jr were antisemites and that their association with the Nazis dated back to at least 1931, two years before the far-right party assumed power in Germany, with the Reimanns providing funding for the SS.
In 1937, Albert Reimann Jr wrote a letter to Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, describing the company as a “purely Aryan family business” whose owners “are unconditional supporters of race theory”.
Additionally, the family benefitted from slave labour during the war, both at their factories and private residences, with female slave labourers revealed to have been both beaten and sexually abused. It is unknown whether Jews were among these slave labourers.
The Reimann family, whose wealth is estimated at around €33 billion (£28 billion), has a majority stake in JAB, a conglomerate based in Luxembourg.
JAB’s assets include American Krispy Kreme and Panera Breads chains and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
The family first came to prominence in the early 1800s, when Ludwig Reimann, a chemist, helped create the pharmaceutical giant now known as Reckitt Benckiser. JAB still holds a minority stake in that company.
Albert Reimann Sr died in 1954, while his son died in 1984. Speaking to Bild, Mr Harf, who is also the managing partner and chairman of JAB, said: “There is nothing to gloss over — these crimes are sickening.
“Reimann Sr. and Reimann Jr. were guilty. The two businessmen have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”
A spokeswoman for the Reimanns said the decision to donate money, which will go to an as-yet unspecified charity, had been made “spontaneously, because the family was absolutely ashamed.”
In recent years a number of prominent German companies have released reports revealing the extent of their association with the Nazis. In 2013, the German baking company, Dr Oetker, revealed the links of its founder to the Nazis and the SS, helping to fund a book written on the subject.
The full report on the Reimann family’s Nazi links will be completed and published in 2020.