The history of the Krupp family and their production of guns and armaments dates at least from the Thirty Years War, 1618-48. In the early 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and their aftermath, the family rose to prominence in arms manufacture after Friedrich Krupp had founded the family cast steel factory in 1811. Cannon construction by the Krupp family began in 1844, and within 3 years Prussia received the first steel cannon made by Krupp. In addition to armaments, the Krupp family produced table cutlery and plated sheets at the Bemsdorf plant in Austria, and in the 1840's they entered the railway business.
The Krupps are an old Essen family. Records dating back to 1560 mention a merchant by that name ; a later ancestor was burgomaster of the town. But three generations only - namely. Friedrich Krupp, Alfred Krupp, and Friedrich Alfred Krupp - are identified with German steel. The founder of the present works was Friedrich Krupp, born in 1787, who in 1810 began to turn his attention to the manufacture of cast steel, in competition with the works at Sheffield, England, which were then the leading steel producers of the world. Krupp was fortunate in his birthplace, for Essen, situated in the valley of the Ruhr, in Rhenish Prussia, is the center of the most important coal district of Germany. At that time, however, the wealth under its feet was barely suspected by the sluggish little town.
The firm of Fried. Krupp was founded as a small steel foundry in the city of Essen, in the Ruhr. The firm retained its family character throughout the early part of the 19th century. On November 20, 1811, Friedrich Krupp (1787-1826), member of an old Essen family of merchants, and two partners found a factory for the manufacture of English cast steel and products made from this steel. From 1816 as sole proprietor he manufactures high-quality cast steel which he uses to produce tanner's tools, coining dies and coin blanks.
In 1818, Krupp built a small furnace near Essen. Although the material he produced was of superior quality, and excellent for many purposes, especially for making tools and dies, the output was small on account of English competition. He died suddenly on October 8, 1826, and his eldest son,
Following his untimely death his widow, Therese Krupp (1790-1850), continued to run the small business with a handful of employees, helped by her then 14 year old eldest son Alfred (1812-1887). Alfred was called upon to continue the business, with no assets but the factory and only four men to assist him. He continued with the production of cast steel, but shifted manufacturing operations toward finished products, primarily precision rolls for which he provides a guarantee of quality. After import duties are lifted, sales are expanded abroad.
The Krupp Germania Shipyard constructed cruisers, battleships, destroyers, and submarines during the first 30 years of the 20th century. Most of Germany's armament for World War I was produced by the Krupp works, including the famed "Big Bertha" gun.
The products of the Krupp shipyards and plants were indispensable to the rebuilding of the German Navy. The shipbuilding facilities of the Germania Yards were enlarged in accordance with the shipbuilding program of the German Navy under which it was planned to build three battleships a year. The other production facilities of Krupp were similarly enlarged. By 1939 the Germania Yards were constructing one submarine a month. In addition to this they were building a battleship, an aircraft carrier, cruisers, and other vessels for the German Navy. The "Bismarck," "Tirpitz," "Admiral Graf Spee," "Admiral Scheer," and "Deutschland" were armed by Krupp. In building and arming the German Navy, Krupp disregarded the limitations imposed by international treaties upon the armament and size of German vessels, and participated in concealing the breach of those treaties.
Plans for extending Krupp facilities to meet the requirements of an expended navy program were first discussed at Berchtesgaden with the defendants Alfried Krupp and Erich Mueller, in May 1937. These plans crystallized a year later under the name of the "E-program," pursuant to which Krupp was to receive approximately 180 million Reichsmarks as an interest free loan to use for expansion. It was Hitler's intention to build a navy to match that of England. Eventually, it was planned to build three battleships a year. The extension of Krupp's facilities was necessary to meet the demand this would create for armor plate !'J,nd guns. These plans were to have been substantially completed in 1944, and the outbreak of war with England necessitated revision; consequently, the "E-program" was never fully realized as originally intended.
Nevertheless, Krupp contributions to the navy were by no means minor. It produced the guns for the pocket battleships "Scheer" and "Graf Spee," for the battle cruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau," the battleships "Bismarck" and "Tirpitz," and for the cruisers "Bluecher," "Admiral Hipper," and "Seydlitz." The cruiser "Prinz Eugen" was not only armed by Krupp, but built at its yard in the Germaniawerft. This yard, which had been the cradle of German submarine construction, continued to playa leading role in their design and construction.
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