The German owners of Pret a Manger and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are donating €5m (£4.2m) to support Holocaust survivors after learning that members of their family used forced labour and supported Adolf Hitler during the Nazi era.
The Reimann family announced it will give the money to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to help thousands of elderly survivors around the world.
In addition to the donation, the family’s JAB Investors company said it will give €5m to support forced labourers used by its predecessor under the Nazis, along with an additional €25m (£21m) for 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 announcement comes after the Reimanns found evidence of enthusiastic support for Adolf Hitler in their family’s past, and the use of Russian civilians and French prisoners of war as slave labourers during the Second World War.
The Luxembourg-based JAB, which is worth some €200bn, grew out of Benckiser, an industrial chemicals company run by Albert Reimann Sr and Albert Reimann Jr, Nazi party members who died in 1954 and 1984.
The younger generation commissioned a University of Munich historian to examine their family’s past in 2014.
He discovered documents in Germany, France and the US revealing Reimann Sr and Jr were early supporters of the Nazi party and donated to the paramilitary SS before Hitler came to power.
“We are delighted to partner with the world-respected Claims Conference to help realise our much-needed financial commitment to survivors of the Holocaust,” David Kamenetzky, chair of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, said.
“This also marks a significant step for the Alfred Landecker Foundation and our ambition of researching and remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust, as well as providing humanitarian assistance for survivors of the Holocaust and former forced labour in [the Second World War].
In addition to Pret a Manger and Krispy Kreme, the conglomerate has controlling stakes in Keurig Dr Pepper, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread and other companies.