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About Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (1870-1950)
Figure 1.--Gustav and Bertha had eight children: Alfried (1907-67), Claus (1910-1940), Irmgard (1912-1998), Berthold (1913-87), Harald (1916-85), Waldtraut (1920-2005) and Eckbert (1922-45). This family portrait looks to havebeen taken about 1926-27. Presumably the younger boys were involved in the Hitler Youth, but we do not yet have details. Only Alfried as the eldest son took the surname Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. The others used their father's surname von Bohlen und Halbach. The family paid a price for their support of the NAZIs. Claus and Eckbert were killed while in active service during World War II. Harald was arrested by Soviet authorities and spent 10 years in the Gulag. 4
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach led the Krupp family and indistrial complex during much of the first half of the 20th century. He was not a Krupp son, but married into the family. He married Krupp heiress, Bertha Krupp. Gustav very quickly immersed himself into the family business.
Gustav led the Krupp complex during World War I. He shifted production almost entirely to producing artillery. The company was adversely affected by the the loss of its overseas markets. The Allied naval blockade made it impossible tto export and the War created a vast demand for artillery. The Allies after the Armistice named Gustav as one of the German industrialists to be tried as a war criminal. The charges were specious, basically that he supplied arms to the German Army. On that basis, industrial concerns in Allied countries were also guilty. Germany was not occupied after the War and these trials never occurred.
Adolf Hitler and the NAZIs seized power in Germany (1933). Hitler launched 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. And Krupp factories began using slave labor from the occupied countries.
Parents Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach's father was a Prussian diplomat,
Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach was born in The Hague, Netherlands (1870). Given his subsequent history, it was a ironic place for one of the great arms manufactuers to be born.
Gustav studied law before obtaining a post in the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Bertha Krupp (1886-1957)
Bertha Krupp was the eldest daughter of Friedrich Krupp who ean the masive Krupp industrial complex, the most prestigious German industrial dinasty. Bertha was born in Essen, one of the major cities of the Ruhr and in part thanks to Krupp--the industrial heartland of Germany. Her mother was Margarethe von Enden. Her sister Barbara (the future Barbara Freifrau von Wilmowsky) was born (1887). The fact that the Krupps did not produce a male heir was considerable concern, both within the family and because of the importance of the company to the Government as well. The vast Krupp coal, steel and armaments empire was an important part of the German economy and a major supplier to the German military. When her father died, while se was still a teenager, she was legally sole proprietor of the Krupp industrial complex (1902). Although the husband chosen for her by the Kaiser, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, actually managed the company. Apparently Hitler did not like the idea of a woman having even legal control over the Krupp complex. When Gustav became ill, he had Bertha transfer ownership of the company to her son, Alfried.
Gustav was not a Krupp son, but married into the family. Friedrich Krupp died under misterious circumstances (1902). It is widely believed that he committed suicide. He had been exposed by newspapers as involved in pedastry, procuring Italian boys on Capri for himself and friends. As a result, control of the Krupp complex was inherited by his eldest daughter Berha (1886–1957). The German Government assumed that woman, especially a young woman like Bertha, could not properly run the huge enterprise which was vital to the German military and economy. Kaiser Wilhelm II personally intervened to find a husband for the young Krupp heiress. Bertha at the time was very young, only about 16 years of age. We are not sure just how the Kaiser's match making went or what Bertha thought of the whole process. Gustav Bohlen und Halbach came from a well-regarded Prussian family and was a familiar figure at the Kaiser's court. The Kaiser eventually chose the middle-aged Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach (1904). He was at the time working as a diplomat. The couple married (1906). Barbara received a substantial cash settlement. Bertha became sole owner of the Krupp complex. The Kaiser gave Gustav the permission to add the Krupp surname to his name. Gustav very quickly immersed himself into the family business. He was appointed Managing Director (1909).
Gustav and Bertha had eight children: Alfried (1907-67), Claus (1910-1940), Irmgard (1912-1998), Berthold (1913-87), Harald (1916-85), Waldtraut (1920-2005) and Eckbert (1922-5). Presumably the younger boys were involved in the Hitler Youth, but we do not yet have details. Only Alfried as the eldest son took the surname Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. The others used their fater's surname von Bohlen und Halbach. The family paid a price for their support of the NAZIs. Claus and Eckbert were killed while in active service during World War II. Harald was arrested by Soviet authorities and spent 10 years in the Gulag.
World War I (1914-18)
Gustav led the Krupp complex during World War I. He shifted production almost entirely to producing artillery. The company was adversely affected by the the loss of its overseas markets. The Allied naval blockade made it impossible to export and the War created a vast demand for artillery. And Krupp made a major contribution. One of the most important was the 98-ton mortars that played a role important in the seige battles like Liège and Verdun. The German troops called these mortars "Dicke Bertha" (fat Bertha). The Allies used the term Big Bertha for long range German artillery, especially the massive railroad cannons that were used to shell Paris. These were the most notorious cannons of the War. They were used to bombard Paris from a range of about 75 miles (120 km). This was not a military weapon as at that distance there was no way to acquire targets. The only thing it could be used for was to shell a city, meaning civilians. Krupp also produced submarines. They were built at the Krupp Kiel shipyards. The Allies after the Armistice named Gustav as one of the German industrialists to be tried as a war criminal. The charges were specious, basically that he supplied arms to the German Army. On that basis, industrial concerns in Allied countries were also guilty. Germany was not occupied after the War and these trials never occurred. One strange transaction after the War was a payment from Vickers, Ltd., a British manufacturer of artillery shells. Vickers had leased a Krupp fuse patent before the War (1902). Of course payments ceased after the outbreak of War. After the war, however, Vickers paid a settlement to Krupp. The payment was calculated on the number of German casualties resulting from British artillery.
Weimar Republic (1919-33)
The Versailles Peace Traty (1919) ending World War I placed severe limitations on the German military. Gustav soon after the Versailles Treaty was signed and began to participate in violations of the Treaty to evade arms limitations. Germany was devastated by the War and in no position to finance a major armaments program even if was not prohibed by the Treaty. Krupp was able to use the Vickers payments as well as subsidies secretly provided by Weimar officials. As he later explained, he was determined that Krupp should be ready “again to work for the German armed forces at the appointed hour without loss of time or experience.” There were several secret projects. Submarine pens were built in the Netherlands whic was not covered by the Treaty. Reseearch on new improved artillery was carried out in Sweden. He was chosen to head the Reichsverband der Deutschen Industrie (RDI-Reich Association of Industry) (1931). This position gave him great power and influence.
In 1930 Goebbels announced that the NAZI party was economically broken. Gustav immediately contributed 100 million new marks to rebuild the NAZI party. Adolf Hitler and the NAZIs seized power in Germany (1933). Gustav Krupp was one of the German industrialists that supported Hitler. After Hindenburgh appointed Hitler Chancellor, Krupp helped finance the NAZI's “terror election” (1933). This help consolidate the NAZI hold on Germany. Krupp used his position as chairman of the RDI to expell all Jewish members. We are unsure to what extent Krupp employed Jewish workers and what actions were taken against these workers. Gustav Krupp became the most prominant NAZI advocate among German industrialists. Gustav became increasingly involved in the NAZI Government. Hitler appointed him as Chief Administrator of Mines with responsibility for the production of iron and metal. This was an agency within the Ministry for the Economy. He formaly joined the NAZI Party (1940).
NAZI Rearmament Program
Hitler launched on a massive rearmament program. The Krupp complex was key to German rearmament and Krupp and his compny benefitted enormously from the government contracts. .
World War II (1939-45)
Krupp arms were vital in German military victories duruing the early years of World war II. And Krupp factories began using slave labor from the occupied countries. The NAZis offered Krupp facilities in occupied Eastern Europe. They were provided access to forced and slave labor during the war. Krupp used large number of forced/slave workers. Precise data does not exist because Alfred had company records destroyed at the end of the War. Available sources estimate that about 0.1 million slave and forced laborers were used during the War. One source suggests that 76,000 forced/slave people worked in Krupp plns as well as 21,000 POWs (mostly French, Rusian, and Yugoslav). [Batty, p. 216.] Another source reports, " Acting in concert with the huge Krupp conglomerate, camp authorities established a plant owned by Weichsel Union Metallwerke close to the main camp [Auschwitz]. It employed hundreds of prisoners, including men from Auschwitz I and women from Birkenau. In the last phase of the camp's existence, women workers from this plant were transferreed to separate living quarters near the main camp." [Gutman, p. 18.] These people labored for Krupp under often horrific conditions. No one knows how many of these workers were Jews. Many people died or were seriously injured. I am unsure to what extent Krupp was aware of the conditions these individuals worked under or even bothered to learn about. The Krupp corporation paid a fee to the SS for the services of these workers.
Gustav began to suffer from old age during the War. He suffered a heart attack (1941). He was becoming senile. At this point Hitler like the Kaiser before him intervened. He issued the "Lex Krupp". It required that the ownership of the Krupp empire which was deemed vital to the war effort to pass from Bertha to their son Alfried. Gustav resigned from his position of President of the Board of Directors (1943). Gustav's health was futher impaired by a car accident (1944). Bertha took Gustav to a family estate in the Austrian Tyrol to convalese. They remained there away from the Allied bombing until the end of the War. He suffered several additional heart attacks.
War Crimes Trial
After the War, Gustav Krupp was a primary target for the war crimes trials. Unlike World War I, there were solid grounds for trying him. He was indicted on several grounds. No. Count 1) Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was accused of using his position and influence to assist the NAZI rise to power and the consolidation of their power in Germany. Counts No 1 and 2) , Krupp was also accused of promoting preparations for war. This involved participating in economic and military planning and in preparing the NAZI plot aimed at pursuing aggresive wars. Count 3) Krupp was also accused of having authorised, directed and taken part in acts constituting war crimes. Count 4) Krupp was also accussed of crimes against humanity, in particular concerning the arbitrary employment and exploitation of human beings as manpower in undertaking wars of aggression. Despite ample evidence against him, Allied authorites decided to try Alfried and not his father. Gustav was deemed too ill and senile to stand the rigors of a trial or even to understand the proceedings at the International Military Tribunal and at the subsequent Krupp Trial held in Nuremberg (1947). Gustav Krupp died in 1950.
Gustav's son Alfred took over the management of the Krupp complex (1943). The Allies instead of trting Gustav, tried his son Alfred. Alfred could not be blamed for helping the NAZIs seize power and even evading the Versailles Treaty was a streach because of his age at the time. He was the manager of Krupp enterprises (1943-45) and at this time the firm used large numbers of forced and slave laborers. U.S. prosecutiors charged that he "actively sought to employ concentration-camp inmates and for that purpose built factories near the camps of Markstaedt and Auschwitz." [Time, 1960.] After the trial and his conviction, Alfried retained the services of American attorney, Earl Carroll, to work for his release, Carol used three arguments. First, that Alfred held a rather junior position at the Krupp firm. Second, that under American law assets could only be forfeited if they had been acquired illegally. And this was not the case, at least with the pre-War assetts. Third, that Krupp was a victim of discrimination. His were the only assets among the Nuremberg defendants that were confiscated. The arguments were weak, especially the first one. But Cold war politics seems to have prevailed over the facts of the case and Alfred was released. After his release and the Krupp industrial complex returned to him, Alfred agreed in 1960 to pay up to $2.4 million to former Jewish slave laborers.
Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp (Dorsett Press: New York, 1966).
Gutman, Yisrael. "Auschwitz an overview," in Gutman and Berenbaum, (USHMM, 1994).
Manchester, William. The Arms of Krupp (Prentice Hall, 1968).
Krupp & the Jews," Time (January 4, 1960).
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.
Ran the German heavy industry conglomerate, Friedrich Krupp AG from 1909 to 1943.
His grandfather was Union General Henry Bohlen and his first cousin (once removed) was US diplomat Charles Eustis Bohlen.
Married to Bertha Krupp.
Originally against Adolf Hitler when he began to actract fame, but when Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor of Germany he supported Hitler.
When the Nazi government was abolished by the Allies in 1945, Krupp was suppost to be placed on trial at Nuremberg but he was never charged with War Crimes because of his failing health.
Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach passed away in 1950 at Blühnbach Castle in Salzburg state in Austria.
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach's Timeline
August 7, 1870
Den Haag, Haag, South Holland, Netherlands
August 13, 1907
Villa Hügel, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
October 25, 1908
Vila Hügel, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
September 18, 1910
Vila Hügel, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
May 31, 1912
Vila Hügel, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
December 12, 1913
Vila Hügel, Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
May 30, 1916
Vila Hügel, near Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
July 31, 1920
August 31, 1922
St. Johann im Pongau District, Salzburg, Austria