Gustav Krupp

Gustav Krupp

Gustav Krupp (Gustav von Bohlen) was born in the Hague on 7th August, 1870. A German diplomat he married Bertha Krupp, the daughter of Friedrich Alfred Krupp, the arms manufacturer, in October, 1906. He was immediately given permission by Wilhelm II to change his name to Krupp.

Krupp took over the running of the company and by the outbreak of the First World War had gained the monopoly of German arms manufacture. He manufacturedhigh angle heavy calibre howitzer called Big Bertha (named after his wife). The gun that was used for the shelling of the fortress of Liege in Belgium. His company also produced the Paris Canone, the long barrel gun that could fire up to 120km in distance.

Before the war Krupp had leased a fuse patent to the British armaments company, Vickers. After the Armistice Vickers paid Krupp a large sum of money based on the number of German artillery casualties. This led to Krupp family being attacked from profiting from Germany's war dead.

Krupp was initially hostile to the policies of Nazi Party. However, after a meeting on 20th February, 1933, he was persuaded by Adolf Hitler and Hjalmar Schacht that the Nazi government would destroy the trade unions and the political left in Germany. Schacht also pointed out that a Hitler government would considerably increase expenditure on armaments. Once converted, Krupp, as chairman of the Association of German Industrialists, was in a good position to encourage other business leaders to contribute to Hitler's election fund.

In May 1933 Hitler appointed Krupp as Chairman of the Adolf Hitler Spende, an industrialist fund administered by Martin Bormann. The money went to the Nazi government in return for special favours for the industrialists who had contributed.

As a result of the terms of the Versailles Treaty Krupp had turned to the production of agricultural machinery after the First World War. However, in 1933, he began producing tanks in what was officially part of the Agricultural Tractor Scheme. He also built submarines in Holland and new weapons were developed and tested in Sweden.

After the outbreak of the Second World War Krupp built factories in German occupied countries and used the labour of over 100,000 inmates of concentration camps. This included a fuse factory inside Auschwitz. Inmates were also moved to Silesia to build a howitzer factory. It is estimated that around 70,000 of those working for Krupp died as a result of the methods employed by the guards of the camps.

Alfried Krupp took over the running of the company in 1943. After the war the Allies originally planned to try Krupp as a war criminal at Nuremberg. However, it was decided that he was too old to stand trial. Gustav Krupp died in Austria on 16th January, 1950.