Past, Present and Future out of Nazism

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope that you all are enjoying your build up to Christmas. This will be my last blog until January 2020. I have learned that a lot of people don’t read blogs to much during the Christmas season, everyone is just to busy. I encourage you though to go back through my archives, there is some great stuff there!

Moving on, when I thought about this last blog for 2019, I wanted it to show just how the Holocaust impacts us, even today. So, as I was doing my research I came across Emilie Landecker, a woman who has an amazing story and one that impacts us all, even today.

 

Meet Emilie

Emilie was born 16 March 1922 in Bavaria, Germany to Alfred and Maria Landecker. Alfred was a Jewish banker and Maria was a Catholic housewife. Maria died in 1928 and Alfred was left with three children to raise, Emilie being the oldest. In 1933 their father had the child baptized as Catholic, fearing the rise of the National Socialist (Nazi).

In 1941 at the age of 19 Emilie began working for the Benckiser company, they were a German company that made industrial cleaning products. Because she was half Jewish, Emilie feared that she would be deported if found out. She worked in the accounts departments of the company as a clerk. Where she met Albert Reimann Jr.

 

Emilie Landecker

Benckiser Company

Albert Jr. had heard Adolph Hitler speak in Munich in 1923. His father heard him speak four years later in Mannheim, and joined the Nazi party in 1931. Albert Jr. would join in 1932. The Reimann family were fervent followers of Hitler before they party rose to power.

In 1937 Albert Jr. wrote a letter to Heinrich Himmler, letting him know that their plant was 100% Aryan, “we are a purely Aryan family business that is over 100 years old.” At this time Albert Jr. is 39 years old and a senior executive in the company.

Sometime during this time, the company expands into food production and supply. They greatly benefitted from the rise of the Nazi’s. Even though they never used concentration camp labor, they did use forced labor, there by cutting their cost and making them extremely wealthy. Emilie is by this time working for the company and would have known that they were using forced laborers.

By 1943 the company has 175 people working for it. One-third of the work force is forced labor from France and Eastern Europe. Paul Werneburg, who joined the company in 1910, was the sadistic and brutal foreman who oversaw the forced laborers. He was known to make the female laborers stand outside the barracks, naked for hours and some of them he sexually violated. Many of the forced laborers were kicked and beaten, including the family’s Ukrainian housekeeper.

 

Albert Reimann Jr.

Nazi Past, Meets Nazi’s in the Future

24 April 1942 saw Emilie’s father, Alfred being deported by the Gestapo. Emilie was at work when the Gestapo come. Her father had been waiting for this to happen, as he had gotten a notice earlier with his deportation date on it. He was allowed to pack one suit and his coat with the yellow Star of David sewn on it. He was not allowed to take any money and/or valuables.

Wisely in 1933, besides having the kids baptized Catholic, Alfred also has the family apartment and property transferred to his children so that they would be able to survive after the war. He had tried to escape with the children however, each exit attempt failed. With only Emilie working, there was not enough money to pay the exorbitant exits fees charged by the Nazi’s.

Alfred died in the Izbica ghetto, two days after his arrest and deportation. It is clear that Emilie would have known of her father’s death and that her siblings would have known as well.

The Reimann family remained ardent followers of the Third Reich, even after the war ended. The use of forced labor had made them extremely wealthy. At some point in her tenure at the Reimann family factory, Emilie fell in love with Albert Jr. They began an affair together and she turned her head to the atrocities committed at the factory against her fellow Jews.

Even in February of 1945, with the Germans losing the war, Albert Jr. thought that there would be a final victory under Hitler. In June of that year, Albert Jr. was arrested by the allied forces for de-Nazification. He somehow managed to convince them that he was not an ardent follower and they change his classification from “active Nazi” to just “follower”.

By 1947 the family is worth over $2.4 million in todays money. Today however, the family is worth over 33 billion Euro. Today Benckiser is JAB Holding Company, one of the largest consumer good conglomerates in the world. They own companies such as: Krispy Kreme Donuts, Peet’s Coffee, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Keurig, Panera Bread and many others.

 

Alfred Landecker

The Affair

Now, no one knows exactly how the affair between Emilie and Albert Jr. began. What we do know is that they had three children together, he spent every Sunday and Wednesday with them, as he was married to another woman. Emilie worked for the company until 1965, the same year that Albert Jr. adopted his own children.

The children knew that their parents met at the company and they knew that their maternal grandfather had been killed by the Nazi’s, but when ever they asked their mother about that time period, she always pushed them off, not wanting to talk about the past. The children didn’t know that their father was an ardent follower of Adolph Hitler, nor did they know that the company had used forced labor during the war. None of this came to light until 2012 when the company chairman, Peter Harf, began pressing the family to open the archives up. He then hired a professional historian to sort through it all.

To date the company heirs have donated $11.3 million from their private funds in Alfred Landecker’s memory to those institutions that help former forced laborers and their families.

Today the heirs of the Reimann family company, JAB Holdings, are working hard to reveal their families Nazi past and to rectify the past family wrongs with doing good today. The Nazism past is being erased by the humanitarian future.

 

We often hear that “those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it”, and as we have seen the past can come back to haunt us, even when it is covered up for decades. It is easier to be honest with those around us, than to hide the parts we don’t want them to see. But it is also never to late to change who we are, to become better than we are and have been. And that is needed in todays world more than ever.

 

I hope that you have learned how the past can impact the future when we least expect it too. Please share this blog with those around you. I will see you again in the New Year. Until then I wish you all a peaceful and Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Greta Garbo a Spy?

Welcome back! I hope that the title caught your attention. When I was looking for my subject this week, I had been watching documentaries and looking at my notes of future blog post and I remembered one called A Spy Named Garbo. Of course, being the nerd that I am, my first thought was “Great Garbo was a spy????!!!!” Well, keep reading to find out the truth and the story that needs its own Hollywood film!

 

 

A Spy is Born

As you have probably guessed, Greta Garbo was not a spy. However, on February 14, 1912 in Barcelona, Spain Juan Pujol Garcia was born. He was to become “Garbo”. There is not a lot of information about his early life and childhood, other than he came from a middle-class family that had liberal political beliefs. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, where he never fired a bullet. During this time, he developed a deep hatred for totalitarianism and especially Nazism. By 1939 Juan had decided that he needed to make his own contribution to the war “too the good of humanity”.

Garcia and his wife.

By 1934, at the age of 32 Juan had already been a failed student, a failed soldier, a failed business man and a failed cinema magnate. His life was crumbling around him and on top of that, his marriage was failing as well.

From his experience in the Spanish Civil War, Juan knew that he could play the double agent spy game and play it very well, he had already done that in that war. He was a savant at it. He decided to try and make contact with the British and offer his services to them, as a spy.

 

“The Game is Afoot” – to quote Sherlock Holmes

Over the next seven years, Juan tried to make contact with the British, but they didn’t think he could do all that he said he could. In 1941 he tried three times to make contact with the British in Madrid and Lisbon, every time he failed. So, Juan went to the Germans. If you despise someone that much, why not work from inside their network to destroy them?

Garcia in the Spanish Civil War

He was so convincing in telling them that he lived in Britain, that when he started to give the Germans “chicken feed” (just enough information to make the hungry for more), they actually believed him. The information he started to feed the Germans, was true, in the beginning. Then he slowly began to mix truth and lies together. By end of the war, it was 100% lies.

At one point, Juan told the Germans that he was creating a million-man army called the FUSAG to attack Europe. This was in fact and big lie that he used to cover the Normandy invasion. Juan’s lies were so convincing that the British thought that they had a spy inside MI5. When Juan was finally able to make contact with the British in 1942, he told them it was him that was making up the lies and feeding them to the Germans, he was taken directly to London and MI5.

He was assigned to a Spanish speaking handler named Tomas (Tommy) Harris, who worked for MI6. The two men complimented each other and they worked so well together that by the end of the war, they had created twenty-seven false spies that supposedly fed information to Juan, who then fed it to the Germans. Some of their “sub-agents” were a Venezuelan in Glasgow, an indiscreet U.S. Army sergeant and a group of Welsh nationalists leading a group of fascists in Swansea. They were so good at creating false ids that the Germans thought that if they exposed Juan as a double agent, they wouldn’t just lose him, but they would also lose his 27 sub-agents.

Juan and Tommy communicated using Juan’s German P.O. Box in Lisbon. The letters were written using a secret writing style that was contained with the text of each letter. Between the two men, they wrote over 315 letters to each other. Juan created the writing style, fashioned after him being a “fanatical Nazi”, thus the Germans never suspect he was communicating with MI6 in London.

All of this earns him the nickname “Garbo” from the Brits, because he could easily take on different identities, as easily as changing his clothes. From the Germans he earned the nickname “Alaric”, meaning “everyone’s ruler”.

In November of 1942 Juan does provide the Germans with actually facts about Operation Torch, however, he timed it so that they would receive the information to late to do anything about the invasion.

 

D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944

Juan’s million-man army, was a lie to cover the Normandy invasion. The invasion that took place on June 6, 1944 saw Hitler sending thousands of troops to the French coastline to repel the invasion. However, three days later on June 9, Juan sent a telegram to Hitler and his high command. The telegram was so convincing with dates and times of “later invasions”, that he was able to convince them that the invasion was a lie, thus Hitler had the troops turn around!

 

Garcia outside Buckingham Palace

Post War

When the war ended, Juan kept working for MI5 to keep an eye on Germany and to see if they would try to build a “Fourth Reich”.

In 1948 Juan believed that it would be best for everyone who knew him and worked with him, if they thought he was dead. Including his wife and children. He fled to Venezuela and created and entirely new identity. He called Tommy Harris and asked him to relay to everyone that he was dead. It took a year for the British ambassador to Spain to officially tell them that Juan was dead.

Even though he could have dropped the charade of being dead in the 1960’s and gone home to his family, Juan kept up the rue. He didn’t come out of the shadows until the 1980’s when a British journalist tracked him down. By then his wife was furious with him, as she never believed that he was dead and his children were just as angry at their father.

Juan became something very rare, the “idealistic double-agent”, someone who wanted to and chose to do the right thing, over and over again.

Juan died in 1988 after co-writing a book on his life with Nigel West, the journalist that found him.

 

Doing the right thing has become a thing of the past in so many ways. People have become blasé when it comes to helping those in need. It is very sad that this has occurred and that is why we need examples, like Juan, who risked everything and gave up everything to do the right thing. To fight evil in his own way.

I hope that you have enjoyed this story of a unique and rare human being. I hope he inspires you to greatness and to fight evil in all of its many forms. Please share this post with your friends and family via email, social media, text, etc. or become a subscriber. Thank you so much and