Germany’s second wealthiest family, behind global brands Pret a Manger, Dr Pepper, and Krispy Kreme, say they are “ashamed” by their ancestors’ brutality towards slave labour during Nazi rule.
A spokeswoman for the reclusive €33 billion ($37 billion) Reimann family told CampdenFB the principals, siblings Renate Reimann-Haas, Wolfgang Reimann, Stefan Reimann-Andersen and Matthias Reimann-Andersen, “were very ashamed and pale like a white wall” by the historic revelations, which were reported around the world this week.
The spokeswoman said the Reimanns had wanted to “verify the existing chronicles” when they commissioned Professor Paul Erker from the University of Munich to research their family’s wartime history. The German tabloid Bild am Sonntag reported that female slaves captured from Eastern Europe were beaten and sexually abused at Reimann premises in Ludwigshafen, south of Frankfurt.
Peter Harf (pictured above), a managing partner and chairman of the Reimann-controlled JAB Holding Company, reportedly told Bild: “There is nothing to gloss over—these crimes are sickening.
“Reimann Sr and Reimann Jr were guilty. The two businessmen have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”
The Nazi-supporting father Albert Sr and son Albert Jr died in 1954 and 1984, respectively.
The family spokeswoman told CampdenFB the public may have to wait until 2020 for Erker’s full report.
“The historian will finish his findings [at the] end of this year and publish them by next year (expected),” the spokeswoman said.
Asked if the family had chosen a charity to give their reported €10 million ($11.2 million) donation, and if that sum was enough, the spokeswoman said: “Not yet, [the] decision will be taken when we have the full report.”
The Reimann family has long avoided the limelight. However, their profile rose as a by-product of JAB’s spending spree since 2016, which turned their obscure Luxembourg-based holding company into an $80 billion rival for Nestle and Coca-Cola in beverages and L’Oreal in cosmetics.
When asked to comment on what the revelations meant for the Reimann reputation, Philippe Pélé-Clamour (pictured right), an affiliate professor at business school HEC Paris, said the matter was a sensitive subject. It was a reminder of the importance of the behaviour of each generation within an industrial dynasty.
“This family heritage is also an awareness of the attitude of their parents by the younger generation,” Pélé-Clamour said.
“By entrusting an academic specialist to conduct this research, the Reimann family allows a rigorous process to be put in place in a dark period of history.
“The citizen, the stakeholders, and the scientific community will not understand that this work is not fully published. What matters is the search for the truth, regardless of the time spent or the money that they will give.”
Pélé-Clamour noted it was the chairman of their financial holding company who spoke and not the members of the family.
“The Reimanns are one of the most discreet families in Germany. They take care of the management of their participation, but never intervene in the media. But this is their family history and not just that of companies they own. In this situation, the family could express their feelings directly. I do not doubt that they will do it quickly.”