Seeing Bella Hadid’s face flash across Times Square on a massive Swarovski video billboard felt like a punch to the gut.
When it comes to Bella Hadid’s sinister antics against Jews and Israel, Times Square is still very much a crime scene. It’s the exact spot where a mob brutally lynched and hospitalized a young Jewish man named Joseph Borgen last summer during Israel’s war in Gaza.
Ironically, when police arrested the assailant and released his photo, he was famous already. Bella Hadid’s Instagram page – with more than fifty million followers – pictured him sitting on a pickup truck in a giant anti-Israel motorcade, a crowd Hadid described as “respectful, loving, kind and generous.” But even when that same man was videotaped savagely beating a young man with a yarmulke and then told the press “I have no problem doing it again,” Hadid didn’t feel cornered by the irony of her bad captioning, nor the need to condemn the assault.
Watching a model use her platform to praise convicted antisemites to millions of followers was a shocking episode for Jews worldwide. But to see a company like Swarovski, with a horrific Nazi past, stepping in to fund, empower and elevate Bella Hadid yet further felt like a kick to the knees.
SWAROVSKI DOESN’T just have a dark Nazi past; it’s actually stifling the exposure of that past, which is particularly egregious. For a company that prides itself on the crystal-like clarity of its glass, Swarovski is being very opaque about its Nazi secrets.
For 70 years, Swarovski blocked researchers from accessing its Nazi archives. Under pressure, the glass jewelry giant finally agreed to commission the Viennese historian Dieter Stiefel to uncover the full extent of Swarovski’s cooperation with Hitler. But then, Swarovski told the distinguished scholar that he wasn’t allowed to publish his work.
Markus Langes-Swarovski – whom Der Standard described as the Swarovski “clan leader” – said that Stiefel’s history was “too personal” for publication. In other words, this was a classic catch and kill.
But there are some things we do know, which are just as damning. Daniel Swarovski and all three of his sons enrolled in the Nazi Party, two of them as early as 1933, before it was even legal to do so, which means they weren’t coerced. All three sons partook in a torchlit Nazi parade, and encouraged their workers to do the same. More than 100 did. One son, Alfred, was an especially radical Nazi. He led a conference of regional industrialists, a position he used to fawn over Hitler and secure contracts for binoculars and scopes with the Nazi war machine.
At one point, Alfred even offered Hitler 100,000 Austrian schilling to build a summer home near the Swarovski factory in Tyrol. Capping this all is the fact that, by 1944, at least one-sixth of Swarovski’s workforce was supplied by Nazi forced labor.
The Swarovskis weren’t just getting by with Nazi Germany. Rather, they were up in arms and leading the charge. And that’s the uncensored history.
Until Swarovski releases Stiefel’s work, we’ll have to imagine what else it is hiding.
But there’s an interesting clue surrounding a Jewish Parisian named Armand Kosmann who was – you guessed it – one of the original founders of Swarovski. Together with a partner named Daniel Swarovski, he patented a machine that could cut glass with enough precision for the glass to appear diamond-like, laying the groundwork for what would become the budget jewelry juggernaut. In the original name of the company, Kosmann’s name took precedence – it was called A. Kosmann, D. Swarovski & Co.
But then something happened and Kosmann disappeared.
The company at some point became just Swarovski, as we know it today, and Kosmann disappeared into history, just as Hitler began to roll through Tyrol. The circumstances of his exit – or removal – from the glass-cutting company remains a tale of yet another Jewish business that seems to have disappeared and become Aryanized around the time of the Second World War.
Interestingly, one Nazi document does confirm the deportation and likely murder of one Armand Kossmann. Could this be Swarovski’s mysterious missing founder? On the one hand, the names are spelled differently. But consider the workload of the Nazi accountants processing the murders of millions of Jews, and typos become more likely. There is also an account that claims Swarovski’s partner died a few years before the Holocaust. But so long as Swarovski continues to suppress critical Holocaust history, we cannot trust it to be transparent. Which means the mysterious case of Armand Kosmann cannot be closed.
AND THEN, amid all this, Swarovski decides to strategically align the company with a virulent antisemite and Israel-hater like Bella Hadid – the same person who lied about Israel “assassinating” an Al Jazeera journalist a whopping two weeks before the Palestinian Authority did?
Swarovski really crossed a line. Even worse, it knows it. With thousands of stores and tens of thousands of employees, Swarovski doesn’t choose to collaborate with major celebrities by pulling names out of a hat. It employs, consults and commissions massive PR and strategy teams, whose job it is to flag liabilities with as high a profile as Bella Hadid. Chances are they did. But Swarovski’s owners still moved forward.
But the liabilities Swarovski did not consider are its own. For a company built by Nazi diehards possibly on stolen Jewish IP, it is throwing stones in a very glass home. And the Jewish community should not rest until the full story of Swarovski’s cooperation with Nazi Germany is more famous than its Times Square ads featuring Bella Hadid.
The writer, whom Newsweek calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” has just published Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocode Memory Hell. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.