Thyssen, Fritz

(1873-1951)
   industrialist; the most important business leader to support Hitler* before 1933. Born in Styrum, near Mülheim, he was the eldest son of August Thyssen, founder of the August-Thyssenhutte in Ober-hausen. After studying engineering, he joined the firm in 1898 as its "crown prince ; his father, in his eighties when he died, refused to yield control before his death (1926). Fritz, meanwhile, enhanced his knowledge of mining tech-nology through travel. He spent two years at the front in World War I.
   Germany s collapse and revolution profoundly affected Thyssen. Once stating that in "Germany democracy represents nothing," this erstwhile Center Party* member joined the DNVP and made restoration of Germany's lost dignity, for which he blamed both foreign and domestic enemies, his principal goal. Re-sisting the 1923 Ruhr occupation,* he was arrested for refusing to deliver coal to the French. His brief imprisonment brought instant fame. In October 1923 he went to Munich to assist with an anti-Weimar rebellion. He attended at least one NSDAP meeting before the Beerhall Putsch,* met Hitler through Erich Ludendorff,* and was already underwriting the Nazis at the time of the putsch.
   One of the proponents of corporatism, Thyssen was in the leading ranks of German industrialists by 1926. When most firms lacked sufficient capital to expand, he generated discussions that culminated in Germany s massive steel cartel, United Steel Works or Vestag (Vereinigte Stahlwerke). He sat on both the executive of the Reichsbank and the presidium of the RdI (upon replacing his father at Thyssen-Gruppe). In 1928 he joined the Ruhrlade, Paul Reusch s* secret industrial elite. He and Emil Kirdorf* were the only prominent business-men to publicly oppose the Young Plan.* During 1930-1932, while he was still with the DNVP, he mediated between the NSDAP and Rhenish business inter-ests; indeed, he arranged Hitler's meeting with the Düsseldorf Industrial Club in January 1932.
   Although he joined the NSDAP only in May 1933 (his wife, Amelie, joined in March 1931), Thyssen contributed heavily to the Party and was known as a "fellow traveler before 1933. He was sent to the Reichstag* through a by-election in November 1933, but was disillusioned with the Nazi state by 1935. In November 1938, after denouncing the Kristallnacht brutalities, he resigned from the Prussian Staatsrat (Hermann Goring* had appointed him in 1933). After he fled Germany in September 1939, he repudiated the Third Reich and was living in France when the Vichy French arrested him. He was released to the Nazis and spent 1940-1945 in various concentration camps. Interned after the war by the Americans, he moved to Argentina in 1948.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Thyssen, I Paid Hitler; Turner, German Big Business and " Ruhrlade.

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

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  • Thyssen, Fritz — born Nov. 9, 1873, Mülheim, Ger. died Feb. 8, 1951, Buenos Aires, Arg. German industrialist and financial backer of Adolf Hitler. Thyssen entered the family iron, steel, and coal business and inherited his father s fortune and empire in 1926 (see …   Universalium

  • Thyssen, Fritz — (9 nov. 1873, Mülheim, Alemania–8 feb. 1951, Buenos Aires, Argentina). Industrial alemán y sostenedor financiero de Adolf Hitler. Ingresó al negocio familiar del hierro, acero y carbón, y heredó la fortuna y el imperio de su padre en 1926 (ver… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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