Hugo Boss and the Nazis

That same year, Boss joined the Nazi Party. Though he claimed in a 193435 advertisement that he had been a “supplier for National Socialist uniforms since 1924,” it is probable that he did not begin to supply them until 1928 at the earliest. That year he became a licensed supplier of uniforms to the Sturmabteilung (SA), Schutzstaffel (SS), Hitler Youth, National Socialist Motor Corps, and other party organizations. By 1938, the firm was focused on producing Wehrmacht uniforms and later uniforms for the Waffen-SS. The iconic all-black uniforms of the SS made by Boss were not designed by the company. In addition to the uniforms, Boss also made work clothing.

During World War II, Hugo Boss employed 140 forced laborers, most of them women. In addition to these workers, 40 French prisoners of war also worked for the company between October 1940 – April 1941.

“Hygiene levels and food supplies were extremely uncertain at times,” according to Roman Köster, who was hired by the company to investigate the founder’s Nazi past. In 1944, “Boss applied for his workers to be fed in his canteen and not in the eastern workers camp, where they had to live as of 1943.” Köster also discovered cases of abuse. “Laborers were threatened with the concentration camp and so on,” he said. “These cases put a less than positive light on the company.” Still, he said, the mixture of concern for the workers’ welfare and their harsh treatment make “simplistic characterizations impossible.”

jewishvirtuallibrary Hugo Boss and the Nazis