The owners of Krispy Kreme and Panera are donating more than $5 million to Holocaust survivors after learning their family had deep Nazi ties ― and used forced labor to help build their business empire.
The Reimann family gifted some $5.5 million to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which will distribute the cash to Holocaust survivors. The $5.5 million sum is part of a larger $11 million commitment the family previously made to Holocaust survivors in March. The family said it would donate to charity at the time, but did not specify where it would send the cash.
“Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter,” Julius Berman, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, said in a statement on Thursday. “These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity.”
The Reimann family learned in March ― via an investigation by the German newspaper Bild ― that their relatives, Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, Albert Reimann Jr., supported Hitler and used forced labor under the Nazis during World War II to help bolster their industrial chemicals company.
Out of that company grew JAB, which now has controlling stakes in Krispy Kreme, Panera, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee.
The family established the Alfred Landecker Foundation ― named after a German Jew who was killed by the Nazis and whose grandchildren own almost half of JAB ― to oversee efforts to atone for its Nazi past.
“To confront this was quite an emotional wake-up call for the family,” David Kamenetzky, board chairman of both the foundation and JAB, told the Associated Press.
The family also plans to dish out an additional 5 million euros to support the forced laborers the family used and provide 25 million euros annually to promote Holocaust education and democratic values, according to the AP.
The Reimann family is one of the richest on the planet, with Forbes estimating in 2015 that they were worth at least $19 billion.
The family has said neither Reimann Sr. nor Reimann Jr. talked about the Nazi era. But the family said it commissioned a historian to look into their history five years ago after coming across documents from that time.
That historian found the family used Russian citizens and French POWs as forced laborers, and that the Reimanns were early supporters of the Nazi party. Reimann Jr., a devout Nazi, had three kids with Emilie Landecker, whose father was killed by the Nazis ― thus the name of the foundation.
Cover: Gainesville, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)