The family who owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread is donating $5.5 million to Holocaust survivors after learning that their ancestors supported the Nazi regime and used Russian civilians and French war prisoners as forced laborers to work in their factory.
The donation by the Reimann family to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany was announced Thursday and will help thousands of survivors in need, a press release states.
“Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter. These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity," Julius Berman, conference president, said in a statement.
In March, the German tabloid Bild reported that documents uncovered in Germany, France and the United States showed that Albert Reimann Sr. and his son, Albert Reimann Jr., were supporters of Hitler and used forced laborers under the Nazis during World War II to work in their industrial chemical company.
Peter Harf, a family spokesman who is one of the two managing partners of the Reimann's JAB Holding Co., told Bild that the family hired a history professor in 2014 to investigate the Nazi ties after finding documents belonging to Reimann Sr.
The professor's findings were "consistent" with Bild's report, Harf said in an interview with the outlet.
"We were ashamed," he said. "These crimes are disgusting."
According to the press release, by the spring of 1942 the family's factory used about 200 civilians as forced laborers. Reimann Sr. died in 1954, his son in 1984.
The donation, administered through the Reimanns' humanitarian arm, the Alfred Landecker Foundation, will be disbursed over a three-year period, beginning in 2020 with $2.2 million. The Claims Conference will then receive another $2.2 million and the final installment of $1.1 million in 2022.
David Kamenetzky, chair of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, said the organization is "delighted" to partner with the conference to provide assistance to "survivors of the Holocaust and former forced labor in World War II."
JAB Holding Co. acquired Panera Bread in July 2017. JAB Beech Inc., an indirect controlled subsidiary of JAB Holding Co., acquired Krispy Kreme in May 2016.
In addition to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread, the Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co. has controlling stakes in Keurig Green Mountain, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., Pret a Manger and other companies.