Admitting its Nazi past, family that owns Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread donates $7.3 million to Holocaust survivors

Germany’s secretive Reimann family, owners of food firms Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Panera Bread, Pret A Manger and Keurig Green Mountain, has announced a €5 million ($7.3 million CAD) donation to survivors of the Holocaust, after its ties to Hitler and the Nazis were revealed.

The donation will be made to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, known as the Claims Conference, which offers payments, sourced from Germany, to help provide services and care to surviving victims.

In recent times it has emerged that the dynasty worth some €33 billion, which started as an industrial chemicals outfit, made much of its early wealth on the back of slave labour — specifically from Russian and French prisoners of war, and other eastern Europeans, during Nazi rule. Germany’s Bild am Sonntag paper has reported that at one point one-third of the firm’s workforce was being forced to do so.

During the Second World War, forced labour to back the Nazi cause was widespread in Germany. Many German industrial giants benefitted greatly, including Siemens and Volkswagen.

In March Bild, citing a trove of documents, dropped a series of revelations about the Reimann family past. The family was linked to the Nazis long before that point, but Bild went much further. It reported that family leaders Albert Reimann senior (who died in 1954) and junior (who died in 1984) were party members since 1931; that the firm flew swastikas at its factories; and that female slaves from eastern Europe were abused at family workplaces.

Bild added, according to a New York Times translation, that Reimann junior, in 1937, penned a letter to leading Nazi Heinrich Himmler. In it, he said his was a “purely Aryan family business that is over 100 years old,” which firmly backed “race theory.”

Though initially arrested by the Allies after the war ended, the Reimanns held onto their businesses.

a sign hanging off the side of a building:  A sign for Krispy Kreme doughnuts is seen outside a store in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1, 2016.

© SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images A sign for Krispy Kreme doughnuts is seen outside a store in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1, 2016.