Hugo Boss has apologised for maltreatment of factory workers during World War II.
A new biography of the company’s history has exposed links between Hugo Boss, the designer, and the Third Reich. Hugo F Boss was a preferred tailor to Hitler and won the contract to supply Nazi soldiers with uniforms.
After the war Boss claimed to have only supported Hitler to save his company when he was tried and fined for his involvement in Nazi structures.
Author of Hugo Boss, 1924-1945, Roman Koester, wrote: “It is clear that Hugo F Boss did not only join the party because it led to contracts for uniform production, but also because he was a follower of National Socialism.”
One of Hugo Boss’s first big contracts after starting a clothes factory in Metzingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg in 1924 was to supply brown shirts to the Nazi party and by 1938 it was producing uniforms for its forces.
Hugo Boss began using forced workers in 1940. There were 140 Polish and 40 French labourers forced to work in the factory. A camp was built at the factory to house the labourers. According to Koester, who is an economic historian at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, “hygiene levels and food supplies were extremely uncertain at times.”
The author also wrote that Boss attempted to improve conditions at the camp in 1944.
Koester wrote: “We can only repeat that the behaviour towards the forced labourers was at times harsh and involved coercion, but that concern for their welfare was also displayed, rendering simplistic characterisations impossible.”
In a statement on its website the company said it wished to “express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule”.