Krispy Kreme, Panera Owners Pledge $5.5 Million to Holocaust Survivors
One of Germany's wealthiest families has announced that it will be donating more than €5 million ($5.5M USD) to an organization that provides financial support to Holocaust survivors. The Reimann family, who own Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Panera Bread, Peet's Coffee, and British sandwich chain Pret A Manger, among others under its JAB Holding Company, announced the donation several months after learning that both Albert Reimann and Albert Reimann Jr., actively supported Nazi causes during World War II. The men—who are both deceased—also forced an estimated 800 Russian citizens and French POWs to work for the company that they operated during the war.
According to the Associated Press, the seven-figure donation will go to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference. The organization plans to distribute the €5 million among more than 200 different agencies that help provide support to Holocaust survivors around the world.
The family has pledged to give another €5 million to help locate and provide support to forced laborers. It will also donate €25 million ($27.8 million USD) annually to be used for Holocaust education programs and to "promote democratic values to fight the rise of populist nationalism."
In March, the Bild newspaper published a damning report on Albert Reimann and his son, revealing that both of them had been members of the Nazi party, and had flown Nazi flags at their factories. The paper also cited a letter from Albert Reimann, Jr. in which he described their company as a "purely Aryan family business."
The younger generation of Reimanns hired a University of Munich professor to further examine the family's unsavory history, and his report confirmed many of the details that had previously been whispered about.
"It is all correct. Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty [...] they belonged in jail," Peter Harf, a family spokesman and managing partner in their JAB Holding Company, said at the time. "When [the professor] reported, we were speechless. We were ashamed and white as the wall. There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting."
The initial €5 million donation will be administered through JAB Holding Company's newly created Alfred Landecker Foundation, which was named for a Jewish German who was killed in a concentration camp. (And in a strange twist, Landecker's daughter ultimately married Albert Reimann, Jr. Two of their children are currently JAB shareholders.)
"The funds being provided through the Alfred Landecker Foundation will make a significant difference in the lives of so many who deserve so much," Claims Conference President Julius Berman said of the donation.
"Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter. These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity."