Filed under things that are sad but true: A study has uncovered that the powerhouse German fashion brand Hugo Boss worked for none other than Adolf Hitler during World War II, and its involvement with the Nazi cause is part of what made the company as valuable as it is today.
According to the study, written about recently in Süddeutsche Zeitung, the company began producing uniforms for the Hitler Youth, the Wehrmacht and the SS. Roman Köster, the economist who wrote the study, says the company “derived demonstrable economic benefit” from the production, and that about 180 forced laborers and prisoners of war were made to sew the uniforms of the very men who kept them under lock and key.
Boss died in 1948, three years after World War II came to an end. It’s been suggested that he was Hitler’s personal tailor and even designed some of the uniforms he manufactured. Köster’s book found that neither of these suggestions is true — it also found that Boss’s factory in Metzingen only produced a share of the uniforms Hitler’s army and administration required. There is also evidence that Boss tried to ensure the prisoners working in his factory were treated adequately. Whether or not his overtures turned into actual results is not clear.
Understandably, the company is eager to apologize for its participation in the war, and to that end it financed Köster’s study and offered this statement on its website:
“Out of respect to everyone involved, the Group has published this new study with the aim of adding clarity and objectivity to the discussion. It also wishes to express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.”
A tender sentiment, to be sure, but certainly not enough to erase what Hitler’s men did once they put those uniforms on.