The owners of Pret a Manger are donating millions to a fund for Holocaust survivors after uncovering their family’s shameful past as Nazi supporters.
The international sandwich shop chain is owned by JAB Investors, which is controlled by Germany’s richest family, the Reimanns. JAB, which also owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread, is thought to be worth around £33bn.
After the family launched an investigation into their business background this year, they discovered that the founders had “supported Adolf Hitler and used forced labour during the Second World War”, The Times reports.
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Albert Reimann Sr and Albert Reimann Jr were found to have used Russian civilians and French POWs as forced labourers, and were early supporters of the Nazi party, including donating to the paramilitary SS before Hitler came to power.
In 1937, Albert Reimann Jr wrote to Heinrich Himmler, the SS leader, declaring “we are a purely Aryan family business”. Immediately after the war, both Reimann Sr and Jr were investigated by the Allies.
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The Reimann family now plans to give €5m (£4.2m) to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany “to help the 400,000 Holocaust survivors still living”, says the Times.
JAB also plans to provide another €5m to find and support forced labourers used by the Reimann family under the Nazis.
The Daily Mail says that an additional €25m (£21m) will be donated annually to “Holocaust education and promoting democratic values to fight the rise of populist nationalism”.
“Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter,” Julius Berman, president of the conference, said. “These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity,” The Independent reports.
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