Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 360
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The history of Krupp is the history of modern Germany. No company symbolized the best and worst of that history more than the famous steel and arms maker. In this book, Harold James tells the story of the Krupp family and its industrial empire between the early nineteenth century and the present, and analyzes its transition from a family business to one owned by a nonprofit foundation.

    Krupp founded a small steel mill in 1811, which established the basis for one of the largest and most important companies in the world by the end of the century. Famously loyal to its highly paid workers, it rejected an exclusive focus on profit, but the company also played a central role in the armament of Nazi Germany and the firm's head was convicted as a war criminal at Nuremberg. Yet after the war Krupp managed to rebuild itself and become a symbol of Germany once again--this time open, economically successful, and socially responsible.

    Books on Krupp tend to either denounce it as a diabolical enterprise or celebrate its technical ingenuity. In contrast, James presents a balanced account, showing that the owners felt ambivalent about the company's military connection even while becoming more and more entangled in Germany's aggressive politics during the imperial era and the Third Reich.

    By placing the story of Krupp and its owners in a wide context, James also provides new insights into the political, social, and economic history of modern Germany.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4186-8
    Subjects: History, Economics, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION A Nation and a Name
    (pp. 1-8)

    Alfred krupp made the name Krupp into a German icon. For him, it was not a coincidence that the dramatic period of expansion of the small enterprise that his father had established in 1811 coincided with the creation of German Empire. He proudly announced to Wilhelm I, the new emperor, that they were now living in the “steel age.” Kaiser Wilhelm I and Bismarck were both quick to see and confirm the parallels between the new politics and the new business. But the identification between the house of Krupp and the German political order did not stop with the death...

  5. ONE RISK: Friedrich Krupp
    (pp. 9-23)

    It was Thomas Mann who wrote the most significant and evocative account of the German commercial classes and their perpetually problematic relationship to entrepreneurship and moneymaking.Buddenbrookswas published in 1901, when Mann was only twenty-five. Together with another book written not long after, Joseph Schumpeter’sTheorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung(1911), which eulogized the creative destruction of entrepreneurship, it has indelibly molded our approach to business history, and in particular the way we view the dynamics of the family firm. Commentators on the phenomenon of family firms, whether academics, journalists, or business people, invariably refer to a “Buddenbrooks syndrome.” The...

  6. TWO STEEL: Alfred Krupp
    (pp. 24-88)

    One year after Alfred Krupp’s death in 1887, the elderly North German writer Theodor Storm published a novella, indisputably his finest,The Rider of the White Horse (Der Schimmelreiter), about a solitary and immensely hardworking man who has devoted his life to building dikes against the sea but is increasingly lonely and vulnerable, and dies in a ferocious storm and flood as his life’s work (a sea dike) seems to be coming undone. Storm’s Hauke Haien is a tragic and heroic figure, the benefits of whose innovations are reaped only by later generations. He is the embodiment of the Protestant...

  7. THREE SCIENCE: Friedrich Alfred Krupp
    (pp. 89-122)

    The Manns of Lübeck reproduced many of the features of family enterprises, in both a good and a bad sense. Thomas Mann’s older brother Heinrich was a rival and a competitor, but ultimately also a much less accomplished novelist. He has, however, often been regarded as a better caricaturist of the behavior of the upper bourgeoisie in imperial Germany. From 1906 to 1914 he worked on a novel,Der Untertan (The Loyal Subject), in which depicted the weakness and at the same time arrogance and duplicity of the new German industrial leadership: the personality of the main figure of the...

  8. FOUR DIPLOMACY: Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach I
    (pp. 123-144)

    Heinrich Mann’sDer Untertanwas only the first part of a trilogy of novels on imperial Germany, the third part which,Der Kopf, was published in 1925 and has a character Geheimrat von Knack, who dominates the town of Knackstadt, based on Krupp and Essen. It was a marked contrast to the celebratory and anti-British novel based very literally on the Krupp story and published by nationalist writer Rudolf Herzog in 1917, “Die Stoltenkamps und ihre Frauen” (The Stoltenkamps and Their Women). Herzog’s version of Friedrich Krupp tells his son at the beginning of the novel, “We will rule...

  9. FIVE TRADITION: Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach II
    (pp. 145-171)

    The most famous industrial novel of the Weimar Republic was Erik Reger’sUnion der festen Hand(Union of Firm Hand), published in 1931, which immediately widespread acclaim and received the Kleist Prize. Its author, whose real name was Hermann Dannenberger, had worked in the Krupp business from 1920 to 1927 as an employee in the statistical office; he aimed at reportage rather than romanticization. The Krupp works, lightly fictionalized presented as the firm of “Risch-Zander,” the central location of the novel. Risch-Zander is highly suspicious of banks and their influence, and maintains sentimental paternalism. An enormous influence is still wielded...

  10. SIX POWER AND DEGLOBALIZATION: Gustav and Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
    (pp. 172-225)

    The popular image of Gustav Krupp as the cannon king who benefited from rearmament and whose family slid into increasing moral and political degeneration was molded not just by a popular work of history, American journalist William Manchester’sArms of Krupp(1964), but also by films such as Luchino Visconti’sThe Damned (La caduta degli dei)(1969), in which a wildly amoral, dysfunctional, and murderous family is presented as the “Essenbecks.” Visconti, the last scion of a Milanese Renaissance family, was fascinated by the cultural dynamics of dynastic decline. The basis for his critical treatment was derived above all from...

  11. SEVEN REGLOBALIZATION: Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach and Berthold Beitz
    (pp. 226-294)

    The chronicler of Germany’s postwar years in popular fiction and film was Will Tremper, a film was Will Tremper, a film script writer who achieved fame with a movie on the postwar German youth phenomenon (Die Halbstarken,1956). In the early 1970s, Tremper wanted to make a thinly disguised film about Krupps—one of many fictional or semifictional versions that periodically passed across German cinema and screens. But the television channel Westdeutscher Rundfunk was not very enthusiastic about the prospect, and the actor Carl Raddatz, whom Tremper thought would have been ideal for his central figure, was not available. So...

    (pp. 295-296)
  13. Appendix 2 : BUSINESS RESULTS, 1811-2010
    (pp. 297-304)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 305-336)
  15. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 337-340)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 341-360)