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JAB Holding owners commit to Holocaust survivor program

The owners of JAB Holding, the parent company of Pret-A-Manger and other retail brands, have announced a contribution to a foundation benefiting Holocaust survivors as the family takes steps to compensate for their ancestors’ treatment of Jews.

JAB Holding also owns Green Mountain Coffee, Panera bread, Mighty Leaf Tea, Caribou Coffee, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Einstein Bros Bagels and a 38-per-cent stake in cosmetics giant Coty, among other investments.

In March, German newspaper Bild uncovered a significant historical connection between the wealthy Reimann family and the Nazis. The Reimann forebears were ardent anti-semites and strong supporters of Hitler, and used both Russian and French slaves in their factories.

“It is all correct,” family spokesman Peter Harf, who is one of two managing partners of JAB Holdings, told Bild. “Reimann Senior and Reimann Junior were guilty. The two men have passed away, but they actually belonged in prison.”

Julius Berman, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), has announced a new emergency assistance fund for Holocaust survivors provided by the Reimann family and administered through their new humanitarian arm, the Alfred Landecker Foundation.

The Reimann family established the foundation in honour of Alfred Landecker, who died at the hands of Germans when he was deported in 1942. Alfred Landecker’s fate is inextricably linked to the Reimann family: he was the father of Emilie Landecker, who had three children by Albert Reimann Jr. 

When the Reimann family appointed independent historian Dr Paul Erker, of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, to research their political history and that of the Benckiser company, it was established that Albert Reimann Sr and his son Albert Reimann Jr, who ran Benckiser, the precursor company to JAB Holding Company, were outspoken in their anti-Semitism and ardent supporters of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. It was also discovered that Benckiser factories used forced labour; by the spring of 1942, the Benckiser Ludwigshafen plant used around 200 civilians as forced labourers.

“The funds being provided through the Alfred Landecker Foundation will make a significant difference in the lives of so many who deserve so much,” said Berman of the new partnership between the foundation and the Claims Conference. “Elderly, poor Holocaust survivors need food, medicine and heat in the winter. These funds will enable thousands of survivors to live in dignity.”

Using existing infrastructure, the Claims Conference will absorb 100 per cent of the administrative costs associated with management and distribution of the 5 million euros to ensure that the full amount of funding goes to Holocaust survivors. Funds will be disseminated to the Claims Conference over three years, starting next year with US$2.2 million (€2 million), another $2.2 million in 2021, and the final installment of $1.1 million (€1 million) in 2022.

“We are delighted to partner with the world-respected Claims Conference to help realise our much-needed financial commitment to survivors of the Holocaust,” said Alfred Landecker Foundation chair David Kamenetzky.

“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 World War II.”

The Claims Conference will allocate nearly $610 million for social welfare next year, prioritising the majority for homecare, and approximately $10.2 million for emergency assistance; a 25 per cent increase over the prior year.

This additional $2.2 million in financial resources will have a profound impact on programs and services in 34 countries. The money will help support programs across the Claims Conference’s existing global network of social welfare agencies, supporting items like food packages, medicine, transportation to doctor appointments and programs to alleviate social isolation for Holocaust survivors.

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