The family behind Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Panera Bread and Pret A Manger is donating 5 million euros, or $5.5 million, to an assistance fund for Holocaust survivors after learning that the family business once used forced labor and supported the Nazi regime.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which seeks reparations for Holocaust survivors and funds social services, announced the donation on Thursday.
The donation was made by the Reimanns, one of Germany’s richest families, through the family foundation, the Alfred Landecker Foundation. The family controls the JAB Holding Company, which is worth more than $20 billion and also owns or has controlling stakes in Peet’s Coffee, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Keurig and other breakfast brands.
In the years leading up to World War II, executives at Benckiser, a predecessor of JAB, supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. The company also used forced labor from prisoners of war and others who were taken from their homes in Nazi-occupied territories.
The Reimanns have been publicly reckoning with that history, and they pledged this spring that a one-time donation of 10 million euros, or about $11.3 million, would go to institutions that help former forced laborers and their families.
The donation to the claims conference represents half of that pledge, said David Kamenetzky, the chairman of the Landecker Foundation.
The other 5 million euros are dedicated to finding and delivering funds to people who were forced to work for Benckiser during the war, Mr. Kamenetzky said, adding that researchers have so far identified 838 people. He said the foundation also hopes to interview those who are willing to talk about their experiences, to add to the historical record.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Jacey Fortin