The Uncrowned Kings of Essen

The dramatic rebound of Germany’s top munitions company
From the February 2000 Trumpet Print Edition

TKS-steel will leave its indelible mark on the world. Those foreboding words are found on the Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG company’s Internet webpage.

The Thyssen Krupp Group is an industrial giant whose history spans nearly 200 years. The Krupps gave invaluable support to Prussia’s and Germany’s military campaigns of the last 150 years.

Just a few years after the defeat of Germany and the conviction of Alfried Krupp at Nuremberg for war crimes during World War II, the Plain Truth warned its readers that the Krupp family had fully intended to continue its drive for an industrial empire, bent on supporting Germany’s goal of world domination.

“Alfried Krupp, who once provided Germany with most of her munitions that plunged the world into the holocaust of the last war, can no longer manufacture crude steel or own coal mines in Germany. But Alfried Krupp is not giving up on his plans! No indeed. Latest reports reveal that Krupp has made contracts with foreign governments to build up his vast empire abroad” (Plain Truth, Nov. 1953).

After both world wars, Krupp was forbidden to manufacture arms. In both instances, however, he continued the family tradition of arming Germany and the world.

For years, Herbert W. Armstrong warned his readers of “German thoroughness.” In a radio broadcast on May 9, 1945, he stated, “From the very start of World War II, they have considered the possibility of losing this second round, as they did the first—and they have carefully, methodically planned, in such eventuality, the third round—World War III! Hitler has lost. This round of war in Europe is over. And the Nazis have now gone underground.”

In 1996, a top-secret Allied document from 1944 was made public for the first time. It revealed Mr. Armstrong’s words to be overwhelmingly true! This document is printed in full in our booklet The Rising Beast. It illustrates in detail two meetings on August 10, 1944, between representatives of German industrial companies, including Dr. Kaspar of Krupp. The purpose of these meetings was to convince German industrialists that the war was lost. The time had come “to take steps in preparation for a post-war commercial campaign.”

Krupp History

In 1587, Arndt Krupp settled in Essen, Germany, where he became a merchant. His son, Anton Krupp, became a well-known military arms dealer. Around 1650, the Krupps were known as the “uncrowned kings of Essen,” according to Norbert Muehlen in his book Die Krupps (p. 13).

In 1811, Friedrich Krupp founded a cast-steel factory in Essen. Even today, Essen remains the headquarters for Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG, the multi-national company once exclusively owned by the Krupp family.

Friedrich’s son, Alfred Krupp, was known as the “cannon king.” He produced a cast-steel cannon in 1851 and it became the star attraction at London’s Great Exhibition. He also manufactured field guns and other armaments for various foreign countries.

With the rise of the German Navy’s demand for armor plate, Alfred’s son, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, enjoyed immense growth and by 1902 had 40,000 employees.

With no son heir apparent, his daughter, Bertha Krupp, and her husband, Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach (Gustav Krupp), took over the firm. Gustav Krupp manufactured the “Big Bertha,” a famous 42-centimeter howitzer which bombarded Paris from 75 miles away during the First World War. Soon after the war, Gustav Krupp began to rearm Germany using his vast international influence.

In the early 1930s Gustav Krupp had enormous influence in the politics of Germany. When the Nazi Party was on the verge of collapse, he donated 100 million German marks to support their candidates in the 1932 elections. Victory was achieved.

Some have asserted that Gustav Krupp—not Adolf Hitler—was the main driving force to rearm Germany after it lost the First World War. In his book The Arms of Krupp: 1587-1968, William Manchester states that Krupp did it in preparation for the next world war. The Versailles Treaty greatly hindered Germany’s ability to become a military power. But Gustav Krupp had connections that profoundly eased the process of rearmament.

Gustav Krupp was the sole owner of his vast empire, too extensive to measure its value.

Alfried Krupp became the sole owner of the Krupp industrial empire in 1943. And like his stepfather, Gustav, Alfried had always been an ardent supporter of Hitler.

He controlled a vast business empire that included 87 industrial complexes in Germany and held controlling interest in 110 companies. Abroad, he owned 50 percent stock in 41 foreign companies and held interest in several other companies. This included factories, coal mines, ore pits, cement works, hotels, banks and a bevy of private estates all over the world. And he used this wealth and power to defend the goals of Hitler and the Nazi Party. However, when all was nearly lost, he was prepared to endure Allied victory until the time was right for “round three.”

At the Nuremberg trials, Alfried Krupp was convicted of war crimes. His violations included employing slave labor and stealing property and factories in all the German-occupied lands. It has been estimated that he used up to 70,000 slave laborers throughout the war. Krupp’s slaves were some of the worst treated in Germany. He had so many slaves that a concentration camp for the children of the workers was established in Buschmannhof, Germany.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to forfeit all his property, but the U.S. high commissioner granted him amnesty and restored his holdings. He was released in the early part of 1951. Alfried Krupp had reestablished the prosperity of his company by the 1960s. He died in Essen in 1968.

Krupp Today

In 1997, Krupp merged their steel operation with Thyssen AG, a rival firm. Today, Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG is the third-largest steel producer in the world. This industrial giant has five divisions and owns around 100 companies. They produce steel, heavy machinery, transportation equipment and industrial plants.

The secret document released in 1996 clearly showed that several industrialists, including Krupp, had a specific plan to support Germany’s—and the Nazi Party’s—inevitable resurgence.

Gustav Krupp fulfilled his objective to rearm Germany immediately after the First World War. That is a historical reality—a fulfillment of destructive intent that should cause us to be greatly concerned.

According to that document, on August 10, 1944, the German industrialists were told they must “through their exports increase the strength of Germany. They must also prepare themselves to finance the Nazi Party which would be forced to go underground.”

In Germany today, the Krupp name is above reproach. But if history is any indicator of the possibilities and motivation of a company, or a nation, we have a clear sign from past actions of one company—Krupp—and one nation—Germany—that our future may be clouded by the ambitions, however misguided, of several determined individuals to reap revenge, even if it takes half a century to accomplish it.