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Question Of The Day

Will You Boycott Dr. Oetker Now You Know it Has a Nazi History?

One of its ex-chairmen was a leading Hitler supporter and another volunteered for the SS.

Dr. Oetker is the German foodstuffs company that makes those Ristorante pizzas that taste a bit like someone has glued some cheese to discs of limp polystyrene. Besides the pizza, they're behind a whole range of powdered dessert mixes and baking ingredients, and – as it transpires – also had some very strong ties to the Nazi party before, during and after WWII.

One ex-owner, Richard Kaselowsky, was a "leading supporter" of Hitler, and another, Rudolf-August Oetker, volunteered for Hitler’s SS and joined the Nazi Party in the 1930s. This has all been exposed by Rudolf's son – current chairman, August Oetker – because, according to a company spokesman, "The business felt it important to be transparent about any mistakes that were made in the past, set the facts straight once and for all and do everything to prevent anything like the Third Reich happening again."


Which I suppose is a decent thing to do. But is it enough? Does coming clean about their past absolve all those evils? Or is it just a cynical ploy to curry favour? London, will you boycott Dr. Oetker now you know it has a Nazi history?

Sara: Oh, I love Dr. Oetker pizzas.

VICE: Did you hear that they used to have links to the Nazi party?
Oh my god! Really? I don’t love them any more. Is that true?

Yep, the owner in the 1930s was a member of the SS. Would you boycott the pizza now?
I probably would. I’ve got Jewish heritage, so I hate Nazis. Well, most people hate Nazis. It’s a difficult one, because that was a long time ago and pizza is my favourite food. Maybe I’ll sit on the fence.

John Smith: It depends how good the pizza was.

You're not a fan already?
I’m not a big fan of the Nazis. I wouldn’t go in the shop [and buy the pizza] in the first place if I knew that it was like that.

Emily: To be honest, I don’t eat frozen pizza. We make our own.

How do you feel generally about big companies who have links to horrible things? Does it matter if their product is still good?
I try not to go to places that I know have a reputation. But if he was a supporter [of the Nazi party] does that mean he made a compulsory payment that everyone in Germany had to make? Or did he vote for them once and that meant that he "supported" them? The word "supported" isn’t explained.

Well, the then-chairman volunteered for the SS and the firm apparently profited from its "close relationship" with Hitler.
Okay, well that isn’t compulsory, that’s deliberate support of the Nazi party. I would probably boycott him.


Greg: I’ve never had a Dr. Oetker, but they’re a different company now [to how they were during the Nazi era]. I’d still eat it probably, yeah.

How do you feel about other large companies having ties to questionable things and still prospering?
I don’t really know about any of these things, but now I do. It doesn’t really affect me when I go and buy something – I never really think, 'I shouldn’t go there,' or anything.

Fair enough. Thanks, Greg.

Previously: What Do Women Who Wear the Niqab Think of the Niqab Debate?