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1933-1945 - Krupp Under the Nazis

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933. Hitler launvched on a massive armament program. The Krupp complex was key to German rearmament. Krupp arms were vital in German military victories duruing the early years of World war II. Krupp was one of the largest industrial combines in Germany and a recipient of slave labor from Auschwitz during the war. During the war, Krupp employed more than 70,000 foreign civilians and 23,000 prisoners in more than 80 different plants, including about 10,000 prisoners from the concentration camps.

The original enterprise of Fried. Krupp was founded in 1812. It was transformed into a corporation (A.G.) in 1903. From 1903 until December 1943, the Krupp firm was incorporated under German law as "Fried. Krupp Aktiengesellschaft." "Aktiengesellschaft" (ordinarily abbreviated as "A.G.") may be literally translated as "share company." This form of business enterprise was ordinarily adopted by most large German business enterprises. An "A.G." approximates in legal nature the American corporation.

These firms constituted successively the family enterprise of the Krupp family and, together with their subsidiaries and other interests. Alfried Krupp, who reached the age of 30 in 1937, played an increasingly important part in Krupp affairs during the last several years before the War; his special responsibilities were in the field of armament, raw materials, and mining. In December 1943 an unincorporated firm, Fried. Krupp, Essen, was formed in accordance with a special Hitler decree. Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach assumed the sole ownership and control of the Krupp enterprise by virtue of the formal approval of Martin Bormann, Chief of the Party Chancellery, and of Dr. Lammers, Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery. No other industrial concern in Nazi Germany was honored by such privileges as were thus granted to the Krupp family enterprise.

By the outbreak of war in 1939 the Krupp enterprise had grown materially in size and scope of activities during the Hitler regime. Some of its coal deposits had been utilized for the development of synthetic gasoline manufacture; this and other commercial chemical processes were carried on through the Krupp Treibstoffwerk. Shipbuilding facilities were expanded and control of the Deutsche Schiffs u. Maschienbau Aktiengesellschaft was acquired. The development of new metals intensified the acquisition of interests in foreign countries. As we have just seen, the Berndorfer Works in Austria were acquired in 1938; soon German conquest was to bring Krupp extensive new interests in Lorraine, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere.

Krupp, as the principal German maker of large caliber artillery, armor plate, and other high quality armament, the largest private builder of V-boats and warships, and the second largest producer of iron and coal in Germany, contributed substantially to the ability of the Third Reich to wage its invasions and wars of aggression. When these invasions and wars were first initiated, Krupp was a gigantic vertical enterprise composed principally of coal and iron ore mines, transport units, blast furnaces, rolling mills, shipyards, machine, armament, and other manufacturing plants. In 1939 it consisted of at least 175 domestic and 60 foreign subsidiary units. Its interests centered in the Ruhr area and particularly in Essen where the seat of the enterprise was located, but its branches dotted the globe and during World War II major interests grew up throughout Europe.

  • Berndorfer Metallwarenfabrik Arthur Krupp A.G., Berndorf, Austria; capitalization 12,000,000 RM; 93 percent owned by Krupp; small arms ammunition, nonferrous and stainless steel production;
  • Deutsche Schiff and Maschinenbau ("Deschimag") A.G., Bremen; capitalization 20,000,000 RM (1944); 57 percent owned by Krupp; shipbuilding, including all types of warships and U-boats;
  • Fried. Krupp BeTthawerk A.G., Markstaedt near Breslau; capitalization 100,000,000 RM; 100 percent owned by Krupp; field guns, torpedo tubes;
  • Fried. Krupp Germanianwerft A.G., Kiel-Gaarden; capitalization 7,500,000 RM; 100 percent owned by Krupp; shipbuilding, including all types of warships and U-boats.
On 17 December 1936, in Hitler's presence, Goering made a speech in Berlin to the Reichsgruppe Industrie, in which the intention of the Nazi Government to wage war was plainly stated. Goering said, among other things: "The battle which we are approaching demands a colossal measure of productive ability. No limit on the rearmament can be visualized. The only alternative in this case is victory or destruction. If we win, business will be sufficiently compensated." He ended his speech: "Our whole nation is at stake. We live in a time when the final battle is in sight. We are already on the threshold of mobilization and we are already at war. All that is lacking is the actual shooting."

All the productive facilities of the Krupp firm were coordinated with the program for rearmament. Direct production of armaments on a vast scale started in 1933 and continued in increasing volume until the last years of the war. Strict secrecy measures were instituted almost immediately upon the start of the rearmament program to conceal its scope. The Krupp firm actively cooperated in the disguised methods of financing used to conceal Germany's rearmament program. The results of research carried on by Krupp were utilized by the entire German armament industry. Krupp gave other German armament firms the necessary blueprints and information needed to produce vital armaments, including siege guns. tank guns and turrets, mortars, and caissons for field guns.

The Krupp firm was one of the chief sources of supply of offensive weapons, such as heavy tanks, artillery, and submarines, needed for the waging of aggressive war. The "Gustav" gun which shelled Sevastopol, the submarines that formed the "wolf packs" which harried Atlantic shipping, and the tanks which overran most of Europe and North Africa for Germany were Krupp products. In addition to finished armament products the facilities of the Krupp firm were used to manufacture intermediate products for sale to other armament manufacturers. Production throughout Krupp was regulated strictly in accordance with the requirements of the German war machine.

Production of iron and steel by the Gusstahlfabrik and the Friedrich-Alfred-Huette increased from 1,500,000 tons in 1932 to 4,000,000 tons in 1938. Production, in Reichsmarks, in the business year ending 1942 was about five and one half times that of the pre-Hitler depression year ending in 1932. The number of employees increased from 35,000 in 1932 to 112,000 in 1939. Part of this expansion was financed directly by the German Government and large German banks and part by Krupp, and resulted in a production in excess of and different from the needs of a peacetime economy.

To assist the Third Reich and as an integral part of the waging of its aggressive wars and to secure the aggrandizement of Krupp, the firm plundered and exploited private property in and public property and resources of occupied countries and enslaved their citizens. Plants in Austria, France, and Belgium, chromium ore deposits in Yugoslavia, nickel mines in Greece, naval and shipbuilding facilities in Holland, and iron and steel plants and foundries in the Soviet Union were exploited by the defendants in furtherance of these wars of aggression. Citizens of these and other countries were compelled to work for Krupp in the manufacture of armaments and munitions.

The progressive draining of Germany's manpower resources caused labor to become the main bottleneck in production, and manpower became the key to the problem. Krupp plants in Germany employed at least 70,000 foreign civilian workers from the countries under German occupation. The extent of the slave labor program in Krupp's own plants can be measured only approximately; complete central recordshave not been found. Records at Essen, however, reveal that on one date about 75,000 slave workers were being utilized in Germany by Krupp. Other records and testimony bring the total to about 100,000 persons exploited as slaves by Krupp in Germany, in countries alien to them and in concentration camps. The proportion of such labor at Krupp plants in Germany averages around 40 percent of the total work rolls;-at the Bertha Works and Auschwitz it was about 80 percent.





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