When Germany’s second-richest family hired a historian to investigate its past, they suspected that they didn’t know the full story of their father and grandfather’s activities during World War II. But the findings were still a shock to the Reimanns, whose JAB Holding Co. owns major coffee brands including Panera, Keurig and Krispy Kreme.
Researchers found documents showing that the Reimanns exploited Russian civilians and French prisoners of war as forced laborers in the family’s factories and private homes. Reimann Sr. also made donations to Hitler’s paramilitary SS force as early as 1931, and Reimann Jr. once complained in a letter to the mayor of Ludwigshafen that French prisoners of war weren’t working hard enough.
“It is all correct,” said family spokesman Peter Harf, one of two managing partners of JAB Holdings. “Reimann Senior and Reimann Junior were guilty. The two men have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”
Harf says the family plans to release the full report next year after it is completed. As soon as the preliminary findings were revealed, the Reimanns pledged €10 million ($11 million) to an unspecified charity.
That, however, is just pocket change to the Reimanns: German media estimates the family’s total wealth at €33 billion. Five family members—Wolfgang Reimann, Renate Reimann-Haas, Stefan Reimann-Andersen, Matthias Reimann-Andersen and Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli—also have a combined worth of least $10 billion, according to Bloomberg.
JAB Holding is an independently operated engine for the Reimann family, whose wealth comes from a chemical company that became Reckitt Benckiser, a $58 billion consumer products giant whose brands include Lysol, the New York Times reports.