German Family To Donate $16 Million After Discovering Nazi Past

One of Germany's richest families has announced plans to donate €10 million ($AU 16 million) after discovering its ancestors used forced labour under Nazi rule.

The Reimann family, which has an estimated wealth of €33 billion, thought it knew all about its pro-Nazi history, the family spokesman said.

Albert Reimann Sr and Albert Reimann Jr, who died in 1954 and 1984 respectively, never spoke about Nazi Germany, and spokesperson Peter Harf said it was believed the full extent had been revealed in a 1978 report.

However, a recent report by Germany's Bild newspaper uncovered documents in Germany and France which showed the Reimanns used Russian civilians and French prisoners of war as forced labour in its industrial chemical company.

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Harf revealed to Bild the Reimann family had begun to suspect deeper ties to Hitler than previously thought, and had commissioned a University of Munich historian in 2014 to examine their history more closely.

Albert Reimann Sr. Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images

The historian delivered his preliminary findings a few weeks ago, at which point the entire family "turned as white as the wall".

"There is nothing to gloss over," Harf said.

"These crimes are disgusting."

The Reimann family -- which holds a controlling stake in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Pret a Manger, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet's Coffee & Tea, among other companies, has pledged to donate  €10 million to a yet-to-be-determined charity, as well as make the historian's findings public once the report is finalised.

The Bild report is "all correct", Harf added.

"Reimann senior and Reimann junior were guilty ... they belonged in jail."

In addition to forced labour, Bild reported the Reimann family were Adolf Hitler supporters, donating to the paramilitary SS even before Nazis came to power.

Many German companies have acknowledged using slave labourers during the Nazi era, and conducted their own independent investigations.

In 2000, the German government approved a 10 billion mark (about 5.1 billion euro) fund to provide compensation, with half the money coming from major companies like Bayer, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, and AEG.

With AAP.