Hugo Boss is the most famous German fashion designer, the company of the same name that he founded having become a stable of the luxury fashion industry. However, like most famous Germans who lived during and immediately before the Second World War, Boss had an immoral association with Nazism.
Huge Boss was born on July 8th, 1885, in the city of Metzingen, Wurrtemberg. Early in life he worked as a merchant’s apprentice. When he was 18 he began his compulsory military service, which lasted form 1903 to 1905. He ran his parent’s shop until 1914, when he was mobilized into the army, in accordance with Germany’s reservist system. After leaving the army in 1918, Boss returned to his family, he had married Anna Katharina Freysinger in 1908, and in 1923 founded the Hugo Boss company. In 1931 he joined the Nazi Party and his company produced uniforms for the SS and the SA. After he joined the Nazi Party, sales increased and the company, which earlier had to declare bankruptcy, became very profitable. During the war, the company used hundreds of French and Polish slave laborers in its factories. After Germany’s defeat, Boss was found to be a supporter and beneficiary of Nazism. He was forced to pay a fine, was stripped of his voting rights, and was not allowed to run his company. He appealed the decisions and was instead classified as a follower of Nazism, but still was forced to relinquish control of his company to his son-in-law.
Hugo Boss’s association with Nazism tarnishes both his reputation and the reputation of the company he founded. Although the company has issued apologies and payed compensation to those it used as forced laborers, its evil beginnings still tarnish its nature. As we reexamine history for its injustices, we should, perhaps, not only focus on what nations have done, but also on what evils corporations have inflicted.