(UPI) — The reclusive German owners of a holding company that includes Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread said Monday they will donate $11 million to charity after their family’s Nazi past was uncovered.
The Reinmann family has a fortune of at least $37 billion and controlling interest in JAB Holdings Co., which owns brands that include Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, Keurig coffee and the British-based sandwich shop Pret a Manger.
The family, through a representative, confirmed evidence that Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. were early supporters of Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930s and employed Russian civilians and French prisoners of war as forced laborers during World War II.
Peter Harf, a JAB Holdings managing partner, said the Reimann family was shocked by connections to Nazi abuses, which were largely discovered in the archives of the German newspaper Bild.
“Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty. They belonged actually in prison,” Harf said.
The elder industrialist died in 1954. His son died in 1984, and although their connections to the Nazi Party had been reported previously, the family was unaware of the brutality within the business until they commissioned Paul Erker, an historian, to research their Nazi-era history.
Ecker provided an interim report using research largely discovered in the Bild archives.
“We were speechless,” Harf said. “We were ashamed and turned white as the wall. You cannot gloss over any of that. Those crimes are abhorrent.”
Recipients of the charitable contribution have not been named.