Family that owns Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread to donate $5M to Holocaust survivors after uncovering past Nazi support

CATHERINE THORBECKE

Family that owns Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread to donate $5M to Holocaust survivors after uncovering past Nazi support originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

The majority owners of Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread have pledged to donate more than $5 million to Holocaust survivors after uncovering Nazi ties during World War II and use of forced laborers.

The ultra-rich Reimann family, which own JAB Holding Company, the German conglomerate behind a slew of iconic food brands, recently revealed that some of the family's wealth was amassed on the backs of hundreds of forced laborers during the World War II era, according to a statement announcing the new donation.

PHOTO: Flowers lay on a concrete slab of the Holocaust Memorial to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Berlin, Jan. 27, 2015. (Markus Schreiber/AP, FILE)

The family commissioned an independent historian from the University of Munich to research the Benckiser company, which was run by Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, Albert Reimann Jr., and is the precursor to JAB Holding. The researcher found that the father and son were steadfast supporters of Adolf Hitler and anti-Semitic, the same statement said.

Moreover, it was discovered that by 1942 the Benckiser factories used around 200 forced laborers.

In 1943, the forced laborers -- mostly Russian civilians and French prisoners of war -- accounted for approximately 30 percent of the company's workforce, according to The Associated Press.

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The announcement of the 5 million euro donation (approximately $5.5 million) from the Reimann family to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany comes as the descendants seek to right the wrongs of their ancestors.

“Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty,” family spokesperson Peter Harf told the German newspaper Bild, which first reported on the ties, in March. “They belonged in jail."

“There is nothing to gloss over,” he added. “These crimes are disgusting."

The donation was announced Thursday by conference president Julius Berman, and will come through the family's newly-established charity offshoot, the Alfred Landecker Foundation.

The foundation is named after Landecker, a German Jewish man who it says was deported eastward and died at the hands of Germans in 1942. His daughter, Emilie Landecker, had three children with Reimann Jr., according to the foundation.

PHOTO: A Krispy Kreme sign hangs on a storefront in London, Jan. 27, 2019. (LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE)

The funds "will make a significant difference in the lives of so many who deserve so much,” Berman said in a statement.

“Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter," he added. "These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity.”

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All of the donations will go to Holocaust survivors and the claims conference will absorb all administrative and distribution costs, the statement added.

David Kamenetzky, the chair of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, said the donation "marks significant steps" for the foundation "and our ambition of researching and remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust, as well as providing humanitarian assistance for survivors of the Holocaust and former forced labor in World War II."