Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

L'Oreal's Dark History

I was reading this article about the sale of the Body Shop to L'Oreal in 2006. Why Anita Roddick did this is hard to fathom. L'Oreal stands for so many things she campaigned against. I can only guess that either 1) she could no longer run a successful and profitable cosmetics company on ethical values such as banning animal testing or 2) they drove a truck-load of money to her door. Probably a little bit of A and a little bit of B.

However, if you really want to know the kind of guardian that Anita Roddick left her baby with, read this. It shows up towards the end of the article.

Although L'Oreal bombards the media with its corporate responsibility score cards — and I don't doubt the existence of plans to phase out testing products on animals — the company's dark history has just been exposed in a bestseller in France titled L'Oreal Took my Home, by Monica Waitzfelder.

The book details how L'Oreal, a notoriously anti-Semitic company historically, took over the Waitzfelder home in the German city of Karlsruhe (after the Nazis had engineered the removal of the family) to make it its German headquarters. Waitzfelder has run a life-long battle through the French courts to try to get compensation — the case is now to come before the European Court of Human Rights.

The richest woman in France, Lilliane Bettencourt, who controls L'Oreal, won't give an inch. Long after Swiss banks and Australian insurers have made substantial payouts to Holocaust survivors, Bettencourt is holding out — and that's who you're dealing with when you buy your Body Shop soap these days.

Here's a link to the book at Amazon in the US.

Nasty stuff.

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