74 years after WWII: Family behind Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread admits past Nazi practices

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The German billionaire family behind Pret a Manger, Panera and Krispy Kreme have admitted ancestor's ties to Hitler's Nazi. Pic: JAB Holdings
The German billionaire family behind Pret a Manger, Panera and Krispy Kreme have admitted ancestor's ties to Hitler's Nazi. Pic: JAB Holdings

Related tags: JAB Holdings, Panera bread, Pret a Manger, Krispy kreme, World War II

The Reimann family – which controls the Luxembourg-based conglomerate JAB Holdings that owns Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pret a Manger – has pledged €10m ($11m) to an undisclosed charity after the extent of its ancestors’ ties were brought to light by a German newspaper.

Bild am Sonntag reported it had found Albert Reimann Sr. and his son Albert Reimann Jr. – who ran the company in the 1930s and 1940s – had strong ties to the Third Reich.

A three-year investigation found the men were ardent supporters of Hitler, had funded his secret service (SS) before the war and had used Russia and Eastern European civilians and French prisoners of war as forced labor at their industrial chemicals factory in southern Germany and in their private villas.

‘They belonged in jail’

Reimann family spokesman Peter Harf, chairman and managing partner of JAB has confirmed the news report.

He added, in 2014, University of Munich economic historian Paul Erker had been commissioned by the Reimann decedents to further shed light on the family’s activities during the 12 years of Nazi rule.

“We were all ashamed and turned as white as the wall,”​ Harf told the media.

“Reimann Senior and Reimann Junior were guilty. There is nothing to gloss over, these crimes are disgusting.

"They belonged in jail."

Before their deaths – Sr. in 1954 and Jr. in 1984 – they reportedly never spoke of the Nazi era.

However, a post-war investigation by the allied occupying powers initially banned the Reimanns from continuing their business activities. This was overturned by the US.

The growth and growth of JAB

The chemicals company has since diversified and has spent around $60bn in the past decade building a coffee and soft drinks empire.

It acquired Krispy Kreme in 2016, followed by Panera Bread in 2017 and sandwich chain Pret A Manger in 2018.

It also owns controlling stakes in Keurig Dr Pepper, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Company and Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, as well as cosmetics giant Coty and Calvin Klein perfume.

The family is the second richest in Germany. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, the five family members of JAB – Wolfgang Reimann, Renate Reimann-Hass, Stefan Reimann-Andersen, Matthias Reimann-Andersen and Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli – are worth around $10b combined.

Harf said Erker’s report will be finalized and released to the public next year.

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