The Reimann family, who hold majority shares in Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Panera Bread, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., and Pret a Manger is Germany’s second wealthiest family with an estimated net worth of 33 billion.
They have just donated €10 million ($11.3 million) to charity after learning of their ancestors’ support of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party during World War II.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Reimann Family Commissioned Research Into Their own Past
Documents uncovered in Germany, France and the U.S. reveal that Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. used Russian civilians and French POWs as forced laborers. The documents were compiled in a four-page report by the Germany Bild newspaper Bild. The family also conducted research and confirms the legitimacy of the claims, according to family spokesman Peter Harf.
“It is all correct,” he told the newspaper. “Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty … they belonged in jail,” reports the AP.
The father and son died in 1954 and 1984, respectively. Harf says that the family was under the impression that their Nazi past was revealed entirely in a 1978 report. However, the family commissioned further reporting by a University of Munich historian in 2014 and “Were all ashamed and turned as white as the wall,” Harf said. “There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.”
Many German Companies Used slave laborers in WWII
The Reimann family used forced laborers, as did many German companies, and funded the SS before the Nazi party came to power.
Volkswagen, for example, used concentration camp internees and prisoners of war as slave labor in its factories during WW2, reports The Local.
“Some of Germany’s biggest fortunes trace back to the Nazi era. The $36 billion combined wealth of Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, major shareholders of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, has ties to an industrial empire that built firearms and anti-aircraft missiles for the Third Reich’s war machine,” reports Bloomberg.
Many German companies have acknowledged using slave laborers during the Nazi era and have conducted their own independent investigations.
In 2000, the German government approved a 10 billion mark (about 5.1 billion euro) fund to provide compensation, with half the money coming from companies like Bayer, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, and AEG. – The Associated Press
“While Harf is 100% correct is describing the family’s past crimes, the current family should be applauded for their willingness to not only hold their ancestors accountable but to dig for the full truth,” opines Leo Shvedsky.
JAB Holdings is The Reimann Family Business
JAB Holdings in based in Luxembourg, Germany. It began in the mid-19th century as a chemical factory.
The JAB investments are overseen by two managing partners: Peter Harf and Olivier Goudet, together with 8 other partners, according to the JAB website.
The acquisitions of the company’s well-known brands have taken place only in recent years.
In addition to their familiar food brands, the family has investments in household brands like Clearasil to Calgon. They are investors in Cover Girl, Calvin Klein, Clariol, Marc Jacobs, and Sally Hansen via parent company Coty. Via Acorn Holdings investments, they are beverage giants.
- Coty, Inc.
- Peet’s Coffee
- Mighty Leaf Tea
- Caribou Coffee
- Jacobs Douwe Egberts
- Einstein Bros. Bagels
- Keurig Dr Pepper
- Krispy Kreme
- Panera Bread
- Pret A Manger
The Krispy Kreme Connection is a Recent one
Krispy Kreme was founded in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1937 by Vernon Rudolph. Rudolph had bought a yeast-raised doughnut recipe from a French chef in New Orleans, Louisianna. The company grew organically.
“I grew up eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts,” singer and Atlanta native Gladys Knight told talk show host Rosie O’Donnell.
“My dad used to bring them to me at two in the morning. So now I bought stock … so I gotta eat them.” By the late 1970s, the company was attracting investors. “Liggett & Myers looked at the company, and so did Bowles Hollowell, Erskine Bowles’s old investment banking firm, but neither struck a deal. Finally, in 1982, the franchisees themselves, led by a man named Joe McAleer of Mobile, decided to acquire the company for $24 million in a leveraged buyout,” reports CNN Money.
The company then became public for years until 2016, when it returned to private ownership under JAB Holdings. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. agreed to be acquired by a JAB Holding Co. subsidiary for $1.35 billion.
International expansion predated the deal having a rocky start with locations closing in Australia and the UK, only to later succeed. In 2015 in South Africa Krispy Kreme formed an agreement with KK Doughnuts SA (Pty) Ltd., to open 31 Krispy Kreme shops in South Africa over the following five years. The company entered a second African country, Nigeria, in 2018. The same year it opened its first locations in Ireland, Guatemala, and New Zealand.
A Book is Being Written About the Family’s Past
Paul Erker, the University of Munich historian responsible for the research into the Reimann family history, is writing a book about his findings. He is co-author of Bosch. History of a global company, Munich 2013.
“Among the details revealed Sunday in the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag was the physical and sexual abuse of women brought in to work as slaves from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe,” reports the Arizona Jewish Post.
Further details of the report are expected to be released to the public over the course of this year. The name of the charity which will receive the family’s donation currently remains undisclosed.