Emil Kirdorf

Emil Kirdorf : Nazi Germany

Emil Kirdorf, the son of a textile manufacturer, was born on the 8th April, 1847. After attending high school in Duesseldorf he joined the family business.

After the failure of his father's textile company Kirdorf formed Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks, which became a very successful coal-mining firm. He later became the director of the powerful Rhenish-Westphalian Coal Syndicate.

In 1907 Kirdorf organized the creation of a fund provided by industrial magnates that could be used to fight Germany's trade union movement.

During the First World War Kirdorf joined the Vaterlandspartei, an organization that favoured the territorial expansion that had been put forward by the German High Command.

Kirdorf, who held extreme right-wing political views, first heard Adolf Hitler speak in 1927. He was so impressed that he arranged to meet Hitler at the home of Elsa Buckmann in Munich. Although Kirdorf supported most of Hitler's beliefs he was concerned about some of the policies of the Nazi Party. He was particularly worried about the views of some people in the party such as Gregor Strasser who talked about the need to redistribute wealth in Germany.

Adolf Hitler tried to reassure Kirdorf that these policies were just an attempt to gain the support of the working-class in Germany and would not be implemented once he gained power. Kirdorf suggested that Hitler should write a pamphlet for private distribution amongst Germany's leading industrialists that clearly expressed his views on economic policy.

Hitler agreed and The Road to Resurgence was published in the summer of 1927. In the pamphlet distributed by Kirdorf to Germany's leading industrialists, Hitler tried to reassure his readers that he was a supporter of private enterprise and was opposed to any real transformation of Germany's economic and social structure.

Kirdorf was particularly attracted to Hitler's idea of winning the working class away from left-wing political parties such as the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party. Kirdorf and other business leaders were also impressed with the news that Hitler planned to suppress the trade union movement once he gained power. Kirdorf joined the Nazi Party and immediately began to try and persuade other leading industrialists to supply Hitler with the necessary funds to win control of the Reichstag.

Kirdorf expected Adolf Hitler to remove left-wing members of the Nazi Party such as Gregor Strasser, Ernst Roehm and Gottfried Feder to be removed from power. When this did not happen, Kirdorf switched his support to the German Nationalist Party (DNVP) led by Alfred Hugenberg.

Hermann Goering worked very hard at getting back the support of Kirdorf. However, it was only after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 when the leaders of the left-wing of the Nazi Party, such as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roehm were murdered, did Kirdorf rejoin the Nazi Party. Emil Kirdorf died in Muelheim on 13th July, 1938.

Primary Sources

(1) Emil Kirdorf spoke about meeting Adolf Hitler for the first time in 1927 in an interview published in Preussische Zeitung (1937).

The inexorable logic and clear conciseness of his train of thought filled me with such enthusiasm with what he said. I asked the Führer to write a pamphlet on the topics he had discussed with me. I then distributed the pamphlet in business and industrial circles. Shortly after our Munich conversation and as a result of the pamphlet written by the Führer and distributed by me, several meetings took place between the Führer and leading industrial personalities.

(2) Adolf Hitler, The Road to Resurgence (1927)

Instead of raising aloft the merits of race and nation, millions of our people pay homage to the idea of internationally.

The strength and genius of the individual person are, in line with the absurd nature of democracy, being set aside in favour of majority rule, which amounts to nothing more than weakness and stupidity.

And rather than recognize and affirm the necessity of struggle, people are preaching theories of pacifism, reconciliation among nations and eternal peace.

These three outrages against mankind, which we can recognize through all history as the true signs of decadence in races and states, and whose more zealous propagandist is the international Jew, are the characteristic symptoms of Marxism which is progressively gaining a hold on our people.

(3) Adolf Hitler, The Road to Resurgence (1927)

Germany, England, France and Italy are dependent on exports. Indeed, even America is leaving the purely domestic economic circuit and is emerging as an industrial competitor on a worldwide scale, helped, to be sure, by sources of raw materials that are just as cheap as they are inexhaustible. Especially in the sphere of the motorization of the world. America appears to be cornering the whole world market. In addition, the outside world has succeeded in breaking down a number of German monopolies on the world market thanks to the coercive restraints of wartime and the result of peace treaties.

Finally, however, the economies of the world's great industrial states are backed up by their political power. And the decisive factor in economic conflict in the world was never yet rested in the skill and know-how of the various competitors, but rather in the might of the sword they could wield to tip the scales for their businesses and hence their lives.