Wealthy German family, owners of Peet’s and Noah’s, to make amends for Nazi past

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

The wealthy German family that owns Bay Area favorites Peet’s Coffee and Noah’s New York Bagels said it will make amends for its company’s Nazi past.

In a spectacular announcement, the Reimann family, worth about $37 billion and the second richest in Germany, announced that new research had shown that the company’s Nazi-era directors, Albert Reimann and his son, Albert Reimann Jr.,  were dedicated National Socialists who committed violence and abuse against slave laborers forced to work for their company’s factories and in their private villa.

Among the details revealed Sunday in the Gemran tabloid Bild am Sonntag was the physical and sexual abuse of women brought in to work as slaves from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.

The company, which started as a chemical factory in the mid-19th century, now has numerous international holdings, with connections to such brands as Clearasil, Calgon and Coty cosmetics, as well as coffee brands. In addition to Peet’s and Noah’s, JAB Holdings has controlling stakes in companies such as Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, Pret a Manger, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Keurig Green Mountain and Dr. Pepper-Snapple.

The Reimann family has announced plans to donate about $11.3 million to an organization that it has not yet publicly named.

Family spokesman Peter Harf told the German news media that the family started research into its Nazi-era history in the 2000s, and in 2014 commissioned independent historian Paul Erker to continue the work.

Erker’s research showed that both “Reimann senior and Reimann Jr. were guilty… they actually should have been jailed,” Harf said, adding that “we were speechless. We were ashamed, and pale as ghosts. There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.”

The results of the study are expected to be released to the public in the coming year.

A family member told the German media that they were “relieved to have the truth come out.”


Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.

Toby Axelrod

Toby Axelrod is JTA’s correspondent for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A former assistant director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office, she has also worked as staff writer and editor at the New York Jewish Week and published books on Holocaust history for teenagers.