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English Corner: angličtina pro policisty 5

Hugo BoSS
Další díl angličtiny pro policisty se věnuje kauze firmy Hugo Boss a jejího zakladetele za druhé světové války, kdy navrhovala uniformy ozbrojeným složkám nacistického Německa.
Hugo BoSS | Foto: ilustrační

Hugo Boss, 1924-1945. A Clothing Factory During the Weimar Republic and Third Reich by Roman Köster



Hugo Ferdinand Boss was born on July 8,1885, the fifth and youngest child of Heinrich Boss and his wife Luise, who owned a lingerie1) and linen2) shop in the Swabian town of Metzingen. As only one of his siblings3) – a sister- survived infancy, he was chosen as the heir to his parents´shop. He began an apprenticeship4) as a merchant before enlisting in the army during World War I.

1)       Lingerie – dámské prádlo

2)       Linen – lněný

3)       Siblings- sourozenci

4)       Apprenticeship - učení

The Early Years of the Clothing Factory

Hugo F. Boss opened his clothing factory in 1924, during its first years the factory employed between about 30 seamstressess5). One of the company´s first major commissions6) was for the Munich- based textiles distributor Rudolf Born, which also included brown shirts for the National Socialist Party. Hugo F. Boss advertised his company during the mid-1930s as a „supplier of Party equipment since 1924“.

5) Seamstress – švadlena

6) Commission - zakázka

In 1929 the global economic crisis caused enormous problems for the textile industry and by 1931 the Hugo Boss clothing factory was facing bankrupcy. Due to successful negotiations7) with the factory´s creditors the production was provisionally able to continue. During that year Hugo F. Boss became a member of the National Socialist Party which then placed orders with him for uniforms.

The German textile industry slowly began to recover in 1933 despite the Socialist leadership constraints.8) These included restrictions on export and the mandatory inclusion of synthetic fibers in products.  Nevertheless, in 1938 everything changed, the company received major commissions for army uniforms. When the large orders began coming in, they were dizzy with relief. They had that „we finally made it“ feeling. With the start of the Second World War the production was correspondingly increased, the company produced uniforms for the German armed forces and the Waffen - SS. At that time, the company was confronted by staffing problems, with potential employees becoming increasingly rare or moving into more highly paid industries such as engineering.

7) Negotiation – vyjednávání

8) Constraint - omezení

Hugo Boss Forced Labourers; the conditions were quite harsh

The first forced labourers started work at the company in April 1940. At that point several textile companies from southwestern Germany joined forces to recruit staff from Bielsko in Poland, a major hub9) in the Polish textile industry. The workers were recruited with the active support of the Gestapo. Hugo Boss employed 140 forced labourers, the majority of them were women. In addition there were 40 prisoners of war working for the company (from October 1940 to April 1941).

9) Hub - centrum

The men were quartered in sheds in the company´s own camp, the women lived with local families. In 1943 a new camp for eastern European workers was built, segregating all the forced labourers from the local residents.

Hugo F. Boss did not mistreat10) his forced labourers, though he took no action to stop the others

This new camp faced serious financial difficulties, hygiene levels and food supplies were extremely uncertain at times. Wage11) levels also appear to have been relatively fair, although the real buying power was an issue. They had to work 12 hours a day with a break for a midday meal. There are conflicting reports how the management treated the labourers.  Hugo F. Boss is reported as a relatively positive individual, on the other hand there were some committed National Socialist in the company who treated the women extremely harshly and threatened them with concentration camps.

10) To mistreat – špatně zacházet

11) Wage - mzda

The most poignant12) story is that of a Polish woman called Josefa Gisterek, who was sent to work at Boss in October 1941. In December, Josefa fled13)  back home to help her father raise her siblings, but she was captured by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz and Buchenwald, where she was dreadfully beaten. However, when Hugo Boss found out where she was, he used his contacts in the Nazi party to get her returned to Metzingen. Although his motivation for trying to save her isn’t clear, he did seem to feel some responsibility for his workforce. When she returned, the factory foreman treated her mercilessly and she had a breakdown14).

12) Poignant – dojímavý

13) To fleed - uprchnout

14) Breakdown - zhroucení

Josefa was finally given three months’ leave, and allowed to see a doctor, but on 5 July 1943, she committed suicide in the house of the family where she was staying. Hugo F.Boss paid for the funeral and covered the travel expenses of the family members who attended it.

Hitler´s tailor?

The Hugo Boss clothing factory of the early 20th century was not a fashion company at all.   At that time, it was rather a manufacturer that produced- among other items- uniforms for the German armed forces and the National Socialist institutions (including SA, SS and Hitler Youth)

At the start of the Third Reich Hugo Boss had just 30 employees, during the Second World War it became one of the largest companies in Metzingen. Anyway, compared to the Third Reich production, Hugo Boss factory was in no sense a leading player.

Hugo F. Boss did not join the Party solely15) because of its orders for the uniforms but rather he was supportive of the National Socialists. As far as treatment of the forced labourers is concerned, Hugo F. Boss himself is seen as generally positive, but the same cannot be said about the company´s top managers. In simple terms, he was evidently not directly involved in incidents of maltreatment, but he failed to stop them.

15) Solely - výhradně

It seems clear Hugo F. Boss did not join the Party solely because of its orders for uniforms, but rather because he was supportive16) of the National Socialists and the fact the orders for uniforms rescued his company from an uncertain fate.

16) Supportive - podporujcí

After war, Hugo F. Boss was forced to undergo denazification, during which he was classified as “incriminated” and fined a sum of 100,00 reichsmarks.

Simply said, he was ultimately classified as a "follower," a person who complied17) with the regime without being actively engaged in its politics.

17) To comply – vyhovět/ být úslužný


Postwar Period

After the war, the company initially continued to manufacture uniforms for the French occupation forces and the Red Cross. The Hugo Boss' son-in-law Eugen Holy, expanded the production until the end of the 1960s. The company had already begun selling suits during the 1950s. By the end of the 1960s, its total sales had climbed to 3.5 million deutschmarks, although Hugo Boss was in fact on the brink18) of bankruptcy at the time. In 1969, the brothers Jochen and Uwe Holy took over the company, and began gradually shaping it into the international fashion group it is today.


17) Brink - okraj



Writing Tips; linkers


Due to……………………kvůli


At that time……………v té době


Moreover………………mimo to

Furthermore…………dále ještě

On the other hand…..na druhou stranu


It seems………………….zdá se

As far as (it) is concerned………….pokud jde o

Anyway…………………………………….tak jako tak

For example,…………………………….například

………..such as……………………………jako

By the time……………………………….mezitím

To sum up…./ In conclusion……..závěrem





Vložil: Karolína Košařová
Publikováno: 18. 02. 2016

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