Forced labour at Benckiser
A preliminary report by Professor Erker revealed that Albert Reimann Junior and Senior were staunch supporters of the National Socialist regime. They attended events with Adolf Hitler as early as the 1920s and later donated money to the Waffen-SS. Early on, they declared their company to be a model National Socialist enterprise. During the Second World War, they used forced laborers in their factories. We know from Professor Erker’s research that, on average, some 200 people had to perform forced labor at Benckiser at the same time.
Because the Reimann family wanted to know more about who the forced laborers at Benckiser were and their stories of suffering, the family commissioned its own research. So far, 838 names of former Benckiser forced laborers have been identified.
Live up to the past
But the Reimann family was not satisfied with simply uncovering its own past. The company heirs are also concerned with supporting Holocaust survivors and, as a lesson learned from history for today, promoting democracy and human rights to preserve and expand a pluralist society.
As a result the already existing family Foundation “Benckiser Stiftung Zukunft” was transformed into the Alfred Landecker Foundation. The Reimann family wants to take the lessons learned from the collapse of European civilization under National Socialism and turn them into active engagement in the here and now. Over the next ten years, the Reimann family will provide 250 million euros for projects of the Foundation in Germany and abroad which focus on researching the Holocaust, combating antisemitism, protecting minority rights, and strengthening social cohesion within a democratic framework.
Supporting Holocaust survivors and former forced laborers
The Alfred Landecker Foundation supports Holocaust survivors and former forced laborers of Benckiser through a donation from the family of 10 million euros. Five million euros of this sum have already been donated to the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany, which attends to the immediate needs of Holocaust survivors.
Covid-19 emergency fund for holocaust survivors
The Foundation has used funds from the donation to establish a Covid-19 emergency relief fund of 1.2 million euros for Holocaust survivors. Survivors are particularly at risk due not only to their old age, but also to the necessary isolation that protects them from infection—but which can trigger traumatic memories of the time spent in camps or in hiding. For this reason, it was especially important to the Foundation and the Reimann family not to leave the survivors without assistance in this crisis and to provide them with swift emergency aid.