It didn't take long until the first calls for a boycott appeared on social networks: Hans im Glück, Backwerk and Pottsalat - they are all intended to finance right-wing extremist activities in Germany, according to the users' opinion. That's why you shouldn't go shopping or eating there in the future.
The trigger was a report from the Correctiv research center, which had infiltrated a right-wing network and named several names from it. These include Hans-Christian Limmer, founder of the Backwerk bakery chain and partner at Hans im Glück and Pottsalat. According to Correctiv, Limmer signed an invitation for a meeting near Potsdam that was supposedly about a “master plan for remigration” – that is, the deportation of millions of people with foreign roots. The research network speaks of a “secret plan against Germany”. AfD politicians, neo-Nazis and well-known esotericists were there.
Limmer himself stayed away from the meeting and denied any involvement in the content. He also confirmed to “Capital” and stern: “I had no role in the organization and planning.” He was also not involved in the selection of speakers. “I did not financially support the organization of the event or any projects,” writes Limmer.
When asked, Limmer becomes even more specific. "I initially signed a few invitations from the organizer without first engaging sufficiently with the speakers named there. After doing so, I did not sign any further invitations and withdrew completely from the planning and implementation," he shares. "I wasn't at the event either and have emphasized several times that I am deeply dismayed by some of the demands that were apparently made there. This particularly applies to the demand for the remigration of German citizens."
Apparently the statement wasn't enough. On Wednesday, Hans im Glück and Pottsalat announced the end of their collaboration with Limmer. “We were taken by surprise by the reporting,” says Pottsalat managing director and co-founder Ben Küstner. All we know about the matter is what Correctiv researched and published in its report. “I can assure you that Mr. Limmer has never influenced our personnel policy or shaped our company ideologically in any other way,” the Pottsalat managing director continued.
According to Küstner, Limmer will now not only withdraw as a partner at Pottsalat, but also sell his shares. The necessary legal preparations have already begun. It is not yet known who the shares will go to. Hans im Glück announced that Limmer had offered to “immediately give up his partnership status”. The co-shareholders immediately accepted this offer. However, it is still unclear whether this will result in a sale of his shares. The company has so far left a “capital” query unanswered.
It is not the first time that Limmer is said to have contacts with the right-wing camp. As early as 2007, right-wing extremists are said to have met at a farm in South Tyrol, which is said to have belonged to Hans-Christian Limmer, among others. In addition, in 2005, Limmer is said to have briefly been co-owner of the property in which the historical revisionist association "Gedächtnisstätte" Borna was located. Not only Limmer's parents were said to have been there at the opening event, but also the repeatedly convicted Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck, who founded the association in 1992. At least that's what pictures suggest that the Saxon left-wing state representative Kerstin Köditz posted on X, formerly Twitter.
According to Limmer, things turned out differently. He writes that in 2007 he did not hold any shares in a farm in South Tyrol. He doesn't know of a corresponding document from the Bozen Quaestorship. In March 2005, he and his parents each took a one-third stake in the property in Borna, "as the purchase price was very cheap at a total of 99,000 euros and was significantly below the value of the property." He also got involved because the effort seemed low. His father wanted to take care of the renovation, he wanted to take care of the bakery. Among several tenants, the father also had the association “Gedächtnisstätte e.V.”, which is recognized as a non-profit organization. intended. He is classified and monitored as a right-wing extremist by the Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution. “Because of its non-profit status, I had no reason to doubt the seriousness of the association,” Limmer simply writes. The city had signaled to him how happy they were to have found an investor for the property.
Nine months later, in December 2005, an article appeared in the “Leipziger Volkszeitung”. It described a connection between the club and right-wing extremist circles. Limmer, who said he heard about it for the first time at the time, immediately decided to sell his share to his parents. Since his father was seriously ill at the time, the notary appointment did not take place until January 30, 2006, said Limmer. He then sold his share economically retroactively to April 1, 2005.
However, the entry in the land register only took place on June 7, 2006, almost two months after the father's death on April 6, 2006. "From this, it was then falsely constructed that I was supposed to have been co-owner of the property after my father's death " says Limmer. It is true that his mother Gisela Limmer was the sole owner. During this time, he urgently advised her to sell the property - and also supported her in sales discussions with a project developer. The chairman of the association even stated in writing that Hans-Christian Limmer had nothing to do with the idea of the “memory site” association.
But 17 years later, he can no longer say whether his mother or father took part in an opening event with Ursula Haverbeck. "I don't know Ms. Haverbeck. As far as I can tell from the internet, she represents intolerable positions regarding the Shoah. When Germans, of all people, deny the unique crime against humanity that was the Shoah, I find that sickening and worthy of punishment," explains Limmer.
Limmer has made a name for himself as an entrepreneur over the years: in 2001, he founded the Backwerk bakery chain together with Dirk Schneider. Before the sale to the Swiss company Valora in 2017 - which includes the bakery Ditsch, among others - it achieved sales of more than 214 million euros. At that time, 190 million euros were said to have flowed to old investors for the sale.
Limmer used the money to invest in, among other things, the burger chain Hans im Glück and Pottsalat, which specialize in healthy bowls. Hans im Glück was founded in 2010 by Thomas Hirschberger, who had already made the Sausalitos chain successful. In 2015, Hans im Glück was among the top three fastest-growing system caterers in Germany. But although growth continued and the company generated sales of more than 100 million euros, there were increasing conflicts with franchisees and criticism of the organization.
At the beginning of 2020, Schneider and Limmer finally bought the majority of the shares in Hans im Glück for around 26 million euros with the aim of restructuring the company and even opening new branches. After two difficult Corona years, the company is now back on a stable course. And the company probably didn't want to jeopardize that. According to the company, Limmer now wants to sell his shares at his own request "to prevent further damage to the company."
This article first appeared in the business magazine "Capital", which, like stern, is part of RTL Deutschland.