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Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach

Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (1931)
Born August 7, 1870[1]
The Hague, Netherlands[1]
Died January 16, 1950 (aged 79)[1]
Blühnbach, Austria
Alma mater University of Heidelberg alumni
Occupation Ran the German heavy industry conglomerate, Friedrich Krupp AG 1909-1943
Spouse(s) Bertha Krupp

Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, "Taffi", (August 7, 1870 - January 16, 1950) ran the German Friedrich Krupp AG heavy industry conglomerate from 1909 until 1941. He was indicted for prosecution at the 1945 Nuremberg trials, but the charges were dropped because of his failing health.


Early life

Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was born Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, the son of a German diplomat (also called Gustav) working in the Hague. The elder Gustav had made his family fortune in the coal and iron fields of Pennsylvania, USA and had decided to return home once Germany became a unified nation. The elder Gustav's wife was a daughter of American Civil War US General Henry Bohlen. Gustav the younger became a diplomat too, serving in Washington, Peking and Vatican City. Other members of his family remained in Pennsylvania and became active in business and politics. FDR's interpreter was Charles Bohlen whose greatuncle was Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, the father of Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach.

The young Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach ca. 1900 (left)

He married Bertha Krupp in October 1906. Bertha had inherited her family's company in 1902 at age 16 when her father, Friedrich Krupp had committed suicide.[2] German Emperor Kaiser William II personally led a search for a suitable spouse for Bertha, as it was considered unthinkable for the Krupp empire to be headed by a woman.[2] The Kaiser announced at the wedding that Gustav would be allowed to add the Krupp name to his own. Gustav became company chairman in 1909.[2]

After 1910, The Krupp company became a member and major funder of the Pan German League (Alldeutscher Verband) which mobilised popular support in favour of two army bills, in 1912 and 1913, to raise Germany's standing army to 738,000 men. Krupp's sole proviso in providing the finance was that the rank and file should never know who was paying the bills.

World War I

By World War I, the company had a near monopoly in heavy arms manufacture in Germany. At the start of the war, the company lost access to most of its overseas markets, but this was more than offset by increased demand for weapons by Germany and her allies. In 1902, before Krupp's marriage, the company leased a fuse patent to Vickers Limited of the United Kingdom. One of the company's products was a 94-ton howitzer named Big Bertha, after Krupp's wife.[3] Gustav also won the lucrative contract for Germany's U-boats, which were built at the family's shipyard in Kiel. After the war, Krupp was widely criticised within Germany for the profits he had made from the fighting. Maintaining close contacts with the German emperor Krupp's estate, the Villa Hügel, had a suite of rooms for William II whenever he came to visit. Even in exile after World War I Krupp wrote to him on his birthday every year.

Interwar years

The Versailles Treaty prevented Germany from making armaments and submarines, forcing Krupp to significantly reduce his labour force. His company diversified to agricultural equipment, vehicles and consumer goods. However, using the profits from the Vickers patent deal and subsidies from the Weimar government, Krupp secretly began the rearming of Germany with the ink barely dry on the treaty of Versailles. It secretly continued to work on artillery through subsidiaries in Sweden, and built submarine pens in the Netherlands. In the 1930s it restarted manufacture of tanks and other war materials, again using foreign subsidiaries.

Krupp was a member of the Prussian State Council from 1921 to 1933. Krupp was an avowed monarchist, but his first loyalty was to whoever held power. He once left a business meeting in disgust when another industrialist, who was the one hosting the meeting, referred to the late President Friedrich Ebert as "that saddlemaker" (Der Sattelhersteller).

Unlike most of his fellow industrialists, Krupp opposed the Nazis. As late as the day before Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, Krupp tried to warn him against making such a choice. However, after Hitler won power, Krupp became, as Fritz Thyssen later put it, "a super Nazi" almost overnight.[4] Krupp was persuaded that the Nazis would smash the trade unions and make him even richer by building up the armed forces. He helped finance the election of 1933, which enabled Hitler to strengthen his tenuous grip on the government.

I wanted and had to maintain Krupp, in spite of all opposition, as an armament plant for the later future, even if in camouflaged form. I could only speak in the smallest, most intimate circles about the real reasons which made me undertake the changeover of the plants for certain lines of production for I had to expect that many people would not understand me
— Krupp in an interview for Krupp magazine on March 01, 1942[5]

Hitler actually tried to gain entry to the Krupp Factories (Kruppgusstahlfabrik) in 1929 as head of the Nazis but was refused because Krupp felt he would see some of the secret armament work there and would reveal it to the world. Bertha Krupp never liked Hitler even though she never complained when the company's bottom line rose through the armaments contracts and production. She referred to him as "that certain gentleman" (Dieser gewisse Herr) and pleaded illness when Hitler came on an official tour in 1934. Her daughter Irmgard acted as hostess.[6 ]

Krupp subsequently became the chairman of the Association of German Industrialists, and helped drive out all of its Jewish members. He also chaired the Adolf Hitler Spende, a political fundraising organisation for the Nazis.

World War II

Krupp suffered failing health from 1939 onwards, and a stroke left him partially paralysed in 1941. He became a figurehead until he formally handed over the running of the business to his son Alfried in 1943. [6 ] Krupp industries, under both his leadership and later that of his son, was offered facilities in eastern Europe and made extensive use of forced labor during the war.[7]

Nuremberg Trials

Following the Allied victory, plans to prosecute Gustav Krupp as a war criminal at the 1945 Nuremberg Trials were dropped because by then he was bedridden and senile. Despite his personal absence from the prisoners' dock, however, Krupp remained technically still under indictment and liable to prosecution in subsequent proceedings.[1][5]


He died in Blühnbach, Austria.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach". Trial Watch. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  
  2. ^ a b c "Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach". britannica. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  
  3. ^ Gerald V. Bull (Author), Charles H. Murphy (Author). Paris Kanonen-The Paris Guns (Wilhelmgeschutze and Project Harp : the Application of Major Calibre Guns to Atmospheric and Space Research) (May 1991 ed.). Presidio Press. pp. 246. ISBN 3813203042.  
  4. ^ Shirer, William. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York City: Simon and Schuster, 1960.
  5. ^ a b "Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach". jewishvirtuallibrary. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  
  6. ^ a b Manchester, William. The Arms of Krupp. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1968.
  7. ^ "GUSTAV KRUPP VON BOHLEN UND HALBACH". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.. May 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  

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