What do Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, Peet’s Coffee, and Keurig have in common other than the fact that they all sell coffee? Their owners—and Nazi Germany.
JAB Holdings, a German conglomerate, owns a massive stake in American food and beverage companies. The Reimann family, which owns JAB Holdings, is having to come to terms with the dark history of the company’s past and role during the reign of Adolf Hitler. A German newspaper this week released information about JAB Holdings role in Nazi Germany that suggests the family were strong supporters of Hitler himself. Yikes!
Supporting Nazi Germany
German newspaper, Bild, this week confirmed that the Reimann family ancestors had strong ties to Nazi Germany during the second world war. The newspaper claims that Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, who carries the same name, not only donated to the SS and Nazi party, but used French prisoners of war as labor in the many factories that made up the business at the time.
The bombshell of a report suggests that the company’s upbringing is largely directly due to the support from the Nazi party. The report also shows that the Reimann’s donated money to the party. Today the family is one of the richest in Germany, with an estimated net worth of over $35 billion. The massive catalogue of businesses under JAB holdings includes controlling stake in companies like Einstein Bagels, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, and Sunkist—to name a few. The list also includes Coty cosmetics company, which controls brands like Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, OPI, among others.
According to The Guardian, the family commissioned the report about their ancestry themselves in an effort to learn more about their past. This must be what DNA report companies mean when they make you sign a disclaimer that shows you understand you may learn things you don’t like about your family history—because it’s so common to have family that financially benefited from the Nazi party.
Poor Working Conditions & Antisemitism
It’s not just the fact that the Reimann family profited off of and supported the Nazi party. It’s the fact that the Nazi party supplied French POW labor as a reward for the family’s blatant antisemitism. The Bild report also showed startling evidence to prove that the Reimann family utilized French prisoners as labor in JAB factories during the time of the Third Reich.
Working conditions were poor. Female slaves were beaten and sexually assaulted for refusing to stand naked in the factory barracks. In the Reimann home, female workers were also beaten. A 1937 letter to Heinrich Himmler (the SS leader behind the Holocaust) from Albert Reimann Jr. revealed that the family found pride in being “a purely Aryan business” according to The Guardian. The letter also claimed that the family was “unconditional followers of the Race Theory.”
The Reimann family isn’t denying any of the reports about their dark past. To make amends, they’ve focused their efforts on atoning for the sins of their ancestors. The family will be making an $11.3 million (€8.5 million) donation to an undisclosed charity. The spokesperson for the Reimann family has claimed that the family is ashamed of the reports about their ancestors. An announcement about which charity is soon to come.
This isn’t the first company to have been built on the foundations of a dark past. In fact, it’s unsurprising that one of the biggest conglomerations in America was built on the backs of a marginalized group. BMW, Volkswagon, and Bayer are just a few to have supported Nazi Germany during its time. Even Coco Chanel has been associated with the party. But hey, at least they’re not the Sackler’s.