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About Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, "Taffi", (7 August 1870 - 16 January 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.
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was born Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach. He married Bertha Krupp in October 1906. Bertha had inherited her family's company in 1902 at age 16 when her father, Friedrich Krupp, committed suicide. 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. Gustav was picked from his previous post at the Vatican. 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.
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.
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. Gustav also won the lucrative contract for Germany's U-boats, which were built at the family's shipyard in Kiel. Krupp's estate, the Villa Hügel, had a suite of rooms for William II whenever he came to visit.
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. 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 1 March 1942
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.
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. 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.
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.
He died at Blühnbach Castle in Salzburg state in Austria on 16 January 1950.
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