The German owners of Pret A Manger are giving £30million to fight race hate and help Holocaust survivors after their shocking Nazi past was revealed.
Ancestors of the secretive and fabulously rich Reimann family supported Adolf Hitler and made much of their early wealth on the back of slave labour.
JAB Holdings, which bought Pret last year, grew out of Benckiser, an industrial chemicals company run by Albert Reimann and his son, also Albert.
It has been reported that up to a third of Benckiser’s wartime workers were slaves – mainly Russian civilians and French PoWs.
The Reimanns had been Nazi members since 1931 and flew swastikas from factories where female slaves were abused.
In 1937 Albert Jnr wrote to SS chief Heinrich Himmler: “We are a purely Aryan family business.”
He added that the company firmly backed “race theory”.
Peter Harf, a partner at JAB, said the family – reputedly worth £27billion – had ordered its own research into the Nazi era.
He added: “It is all correct. Reimann Snr and Reimann Jnr were guilty. They belonged in jail.”
After the war the Reimanns were initially arrested but managed to hold on to the firm.
The family say Albert Snr, who died in 1954 and his son, who died in 1984, never talked about the Nazi era.
But after finding papers kept by their father and grandfather, the younger generation hired a historian to probe the family’s past.
Luxembourg-based JAB, which also owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, bought sandwich chain Pret for £1.5billion in May 2018.
It is giving £4.4million to Holocaust survivors worldwide and £3.6million is earmarked for forced labourers.
Another £21million a year will go to the Alfred Landecker Foundation, a JAB charity for Holocaust education named after a Jewish First World War veteran killed by the Nazis.
His fate is inextricably linked to the Reimanns.
His daughter Emilie had three children by Albert Jr. Two are now JAB shareholders.
David Kamenetzky, chairman of both the foundation and JAB Investors, said: “To confront this was quite an emotional wake-up call for the family.”
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