Krupp von Böhlen und Halbach, Gustav

(1870-1950)
   industrialist; secretly engaged in preparing Germany for rearmament before 1933. He was born in The Hague to a major industrialist (von Bohlen und Halbach). His studies in law and political science—he took a doctorate in 1893—were followed by entry into Baden's civil service.* He was appointed to the Foreign Office in 1897 and was soon legation secretary at the embassy in Washington. In 1904 he was appointed to Prussia's* mission at the Vatican. During the assignment he met Bertha Krupp, eldest daughter of Friedrich Alfred Krupp. After marriage to Bertha in 1906, when he assumed the Krupp name, he entered the board of directors of the Krupp Works. He was appointed chairman of the board in 1909 and retained the position until 1943.
   By 1914 Gustav Krupp enjoyed the Kaiser's appellation as the "nation's armorer." Employing 80,300 people, the Essen-based Krupp Works built U-boats, dreadnoughts, armor plate, artillery shells, and guns. Best known for guns, it produced the incredible "Long Max," a weapon whose 112-foot-long barrel could fire a 200-pound shell 75 miles. Used in the war's waning months on Paris, and sometimes confused with a mobile mortar known as "Big Bertha," this gun most identified Krupp with the inhumanity of modern warfare. Before the end of the war, the firm employed 168,000 people, produced 9 million shells and 3,000 field guns per month, supplied half of Germany's submarines, and was initiating tank designs.
   Germany's defeat was a short-term disaster for Krupp. Although he was never tried, he was among 893 war criminals included in a list produced by the Allies at Versailles.* He was obliged to release most of his work force, forbidden to produce armaments, ordered to scrap one million pieces of equipment, and forced to cut steel-making capacity by half. But within a year he had rationalized production and had retooled a still-formidable enterprise for the construction of locomotives as well as cash registers, farm equipment, locks, surgical tools, and diesel motors. Perfecting the production of stainless steel, the firm also achieved success manufacturing false teeth. Krupp avoided the worst effects of the infla-tion* and even secured a contract to print Reichsmarks. As for weaponry, he later bragged that he was secretly preparing for rearmament as early as 1919. It is estimated that before Hitler's* appointment Krupp received more than 60 million marks from various governments, beginning with Joseph Wirth,* to maintain Germany's proficiency in armaments; much new weaponry was de-signed and built outside Germany, mainly in Holland and Sweden. In 1928 he joined the Ruhrlade, a secret industrial organization founded by Paul Reusch*; he became chairman of the RdI in 1931. Deemed among Germany's moderate industrialists, he favored a merger of the DNVP and DVP; indeed, he declined a 1932 invitation to meet with Hitler and refused to display the swastika at RdI headquarters. Krupp entered the Prussian Herrenhaus in 1909 and served in 1921-1933 as a member of the Prussian Staatsrat. During the Ruhr occupation* he was pros-ecuted by the French military authorities for violence resulting in the death of thirteen workers. Sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment, he was released a national hero after seven months. Despite the profit he accrued from several Weimar governments, he never accepted the Republic. Closest to the DVP in his politics, he stayed in touch with the deposed Kaiser. Ultimately, his politics were guided by the interests of the Krupp firm. He was uneasy with the 1924 Dawes Plan,* but was prepared to accept the 1929 Young Plan.* Although he seemed easy prey after 1929 for the demagoguery of Hitler, he disdained the brutality of the SA* and remained aloof from the NSDAP. Yet because he scorned the leadership of Alfred Hugenberg,* chairman of the DNVP and former managing-director at Krupp Works, and disapproved the appointment of the obscure Franz von Papen* as Chancellor, he found himself politically isolated in the Republic's waning months. As late as January 1933 he advised President Hindenburg* not to appoint Hitler Chancellor.
   Once in power, Hitler received Krupp's increasingly warm support. Before the end of 1933 he directed the Adolf-Hitler Spende—the Hitler Donation—and was Hitler's chief fund-raiser. His acceptance of the Third Reich was such that the Gestapo established an office within his plant. What ensued was an unprec-edented prosperity as the company played a key role in preparing for World War II. Much of its product was produced during the war by slave labor.
   Krupp's name appeared in October 1945 on the list of war criminals to be tried at Nuremberg. The combined impact of senility and a stroke canceled his trial.
   REFERENCES:Batty, House of Krupp; Manchester, Arms of Krupp; NDB, vol. 13; Turner, German Big Business.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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