Long overdue apologiesGerman high-end fashion house Hugo Boss recently made a statement not about clothes, but to apologize for its founder’s Nazi past.
Hugo Boss A.G., which takes its corporate name from the name of its founder, is now owned by an Italian company.
Its executives promised 14 years ago to own up to its founder’s past and company history during the Hitler years after Hugo F. Boss was accused of designing the infamous Nazi uniforms and serving as Hitler’s personal tailor.
The company commissioned historians to investigate the company’s history. The account is detailed in the recently published book “Hugo Boss, 1924-1945:The History of a Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich,” which states that Boss was a “loyal Nazi.”
The fashion company’s apology, timed to coincide with the book’s publication, expresses the company’s “profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.”
Germans have been openly regretful about the atrocities committed against the Jewish population during World War II and have been eager to compensate the victims and families.
Companies, individuals and organizations have publicly apologized every time their role during the war has come to light. German President Horst Kohler visited Israel in 2005 and addressed the parliament with an apology for the Nazi Holocaust.
Although they have committed the worst crimes against humanity in modern history, few now doubt Germans’ sincerity in their regret for their unsavory past.
Some regard Hugo Boss A.G.’s apology as a marketing stunt launched to restore its brand image in the global market. But even with such intentions, the company’s admission and apology have been received without cynicism because of Germany’s years of efforts to make up for their past wrongdoing.
Japan would do well to do the same. Japan has repeatedly disappointed and angered its Asian neighbors with comments and actions that hardly suggest deep regret of their invasions, massacres, prison camps, slave labor and forced sexual service to its army during the Second World War.
They have resisted offering compensation to individuals and many Japanese leaders remain proud of the country’s imperial past. That is why, unlike Germany, Japan has failed to earn the respect and trust of its Asian neighbors.
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