The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War Info

Find the best books In Reference - best sellers and hot new Releases. Check out our top gifted and best rated books this year. Take a look at hundreds of reviews before you download The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War by William Manchester. Read&Download The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War by William Manchester Online


The Krupp family were the premier German arms manufacturers from
the middle of the 19th century until the end of World War II, producing
artillery pieces and submarines that set the standard for
effectiveness. This book relates the history of this influential
company.

Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.36

1446 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.5
83
17
9
0
5
client-img 4.21
584
542
168
6
0

Reviews for The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War:

4

Apr 13, 2017

The Arms of Krupp consists of 873 pages of purple prose with a Wagnerian leitmotif on the Krupp family of Essen that dominated the German steel industry during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The first four hundred and fifty pages provide a pedestrian synthesis of German works on the Krupps covering the period up until 1943. The next two hundred and sixty pages contain a rehash of the evidence presented at Nuremberg by the prosecutors who The Arms of Krupp consists of 873 pages of purple prose with a Wagnerian leitmotif on the Krupp family of Essen that dominated the German steel industry during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The first four hundred and fifty pages provide a pedestrian synthesis of German works on the Krupps covering the period up until 1943. The next two hundred and sixty pages contain a rehash of the evidence presented at Nuremberg by the prosecutors who were seeking the death penalty for Alfried Krupp for the large number of slave labourers who died while working for the Krupp firm during WWII. The remainder of the book is a piece of incompetent business journalism which describes how the Krupps lost control of their firm due to a combination of overly aggressive expansion and bad financial management. Despite the book's glaring faults and absurd length, I am giving it four stars because ultimately I agree with most of Manchester's opinions and feel that the story needed to be told.
The thing that irritates me most about the book is the way in which the historian Manchester relates the story of the financial crisis that forced the Krupps to turn their firm into a public joint-stock company thus causing them to lose control of the enterprise. Manchester is of the impression that the cause of the Krupp's financial difficulties were complex and that only a major talent in the financial area could have averted the problems. In fact the Krupps' financial troubles were extremely simple. After four weeks into an undergraduate finance course, anyone would have understood what they did wrong. Given their very aggressive course of expansion in the 1950s, they should have used primarily equity financing instead they relied entirely on debt. Worst yet they chose short term lending from the banks rather than issue long term bonds. Manchester's description of their bungling is garbled and he shows no grasp of the fact that the actions taken by the managers of the Krupp firm during the last 10 years of its existence were wildly contrary to conventional business practices.
This is perhaps quibbling. Historians are not expected to understand either accounting or capital structure theory. Manchester is however masterful in the areas that do fall into the purview of the historian. His descriptions of the political relations of the Krupps and with the Kaiser's German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the Allied occupiers and the FDR are excellent. He also paints a brilliant portrait of the lying and double dealing of the Krupps who were masters at obtaining subsidies from the various German governments that they operated under on the grounds that it was in the national interest to support their arms production capability while simultaneously selling to actual and potential enemies of Germany. Manchester also does an excellent job of drawing attention to the truly inhumane manner in which the Krupps treated their slave labour during WWII. As well, recounts in a delightfully catty fashion all the various intrigues and backstabbing that occurred among the various geniuses, tyrants and perverts that made up the Krupp family.
My favourite section of the book, is the one in which he tells how the Krupps led the Ruhr industrialists in the early 1920s in a concerted effort to exceed the limits on German steel and weapons production prescribed by the treaty of the Versailles. Had the Krupps not rallied the leaders of German industry in the way that they did, Hitler would not have had the same means to wage war that he did when he came to power.
For a retired person with time on his or her hands, the Arms of Krupp is an excellent read. Younger people are advised to wait until they no longer have professional obligations or young children to deal with before taking on this massive work. ...more
5

Sep 24, 2007

This is one of the best history books I have read.
Partially an epic family history and partially a fascinating behind the scenes perspective on the Franco-Prussian War, WW1 and WW2 (including the Holocaust and the Nuremberg trials), this book was incredibly hard to put down.
What's perhaps more amazing is the way it covers all the intermediate periods between the big name events with impeccable detail, for example the Weimar Republic from the view of the industrial elite which is never discussed This is one of the best history books I have read.
Partially an epic family history and partially a fascinating behind the scenes perspective on the Franco-Prussian War, WW1 and WW2 (including the Holocaust and the Nuremberg trials), this book was incredibly hard to put down.
What's perhaps more amazing is the way it covers all the intermediate periods between the big name events with impeccable detail, for example the Weimar Republic from the view of the industrial elite which is never discussed in other texts since Hitler (who was little more than a beggar at the time) always steals the spotlight.
It rounds out your understanding of European politics in the late 19th and early 20th century in way that no other viewpoint really can and traces a captivating family saga at the same time. Brilliantly done. ...more
0

Jan 23, 2020

By chance I stumbled upon this here, and to my surprise I realised that I have read it. I can remember where and when I bought it, and even who I was with when I bought it, but for the life of me I dont know where it is now. It has got mislaid or lost in moves between parents home, uni digs, peripatetic wanderings when first working and three family homes. Ho hum.

This unsettles me greatly as I hoard books. I suspect that I will end up buying this, just because.

I remember little of the book By chance I stumbled upon this here, and to my surprise I realised that I have read it. I can remember where and when I bought it, and even who I was with when I bought it, but for the life of me I dont know where it is now. It has got mislaid or lost in moves between parents home, uni digs, peripatetic wanderings when first working and three family homes. Ho hum.

This unsettles me greatly as I hoard books. I suspect that I will end up buying this, just because.

I remember little of the book itself BTW. ...more
3

May 02, 2017

The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968 is a book looking at the growth and eventual dominance of the Krupp family in the German armaments industry. The Krupp family started out in the Ruhr area of Germany as merchants and traders, and evolved slowly into metalworking as a trade. At first they made tool and dye for other factories, rollers for metal, and cutlery among other metal wares. Alfred Krupp was the first to flirt with gunsmithing and cannons as a trade. Alfred took over the Krupp works, a small The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968 is a book looking at the growth and eventual dominance of the Krupp family in the German armaments industry. The Krupp family started out in the Ruhr area of Germany as merchants and traders, and evolved slowly into metalworking as a trade. At first they made tool and dye for other factories, rollers for metal, and cutlery among other metal wares. Alfred Krupp was the first to flirt with gunsmithing and cannons as a trade. Alfred took over the Krupp works, a small impoverished factory and a run down cottage, owned and operated by his unlucky father, at the age of 14. From this he built the largest armaments firms in the world. How did he do this? By giving away free samples of his guns to monarchs and military attaches of course, and by selling lucrative contracts to monarchs throughout the world. He used a tougher steel which allowed cannons to fire longer distances and larger ordinance without warping or breaking. He disrupted the established bronze cannon in the Prussian military and served them Krupp steel, used to dominate both the Hapsburgs and France and the crucible arms of German unification.

The rise of the Krupp's is closely tied into the rise of Germany. Germany dominated Europe in the 19th century by building concentrated,, vertically integrated factories to churn out railway tracks, cars, guns, cannons and industrial machinery. Krupp factories were the principle birthplaces of these economic and engines. The Krupp's cooperated with the Prussian and German elite, as well as foreign powers. The Krupp household ended up operating as an informal embassy, and Krupp agents in foreign capitals were trusted with classified diplomatic cables, and the confidence of foreign leaders. The Krupp firm and family became an extension of the state in this period, and the Krupp's heavily exploited this. They sold guns to all comers, arming European, Asian and American powers to the teeth. An arms race was profitable, but more so than war at times. Krupp guns needed to be upgraded to stay at the forefront of warfare in times of peace, but during war, accidents and incidents led to questions on Krupp technical supremacy and opened the door to purchase armaments from competing firms due to immediate need.

Krupp factories massed produced massive cannons during WWI, and were closely intertwined with the Nazi regime in WWII. Krupp steel armored Germany's navy during the naval rivalry with Britain pre-WWI. Their artillery pieces rained death down on the trenches during WWI. In WWII, Krupp metal went into planes, tanks and ships, and Krupp factories ended up being a key instrument in the Final Solution, with Krupp factories requiring massive labour quotas - filled by slave labour. Krupp factories were closely associated with the Dora concentration camp, and the Krupp family had close ties and correspondence with the Hohenzollern, Weimar, and Nazi regimes, gaining state subsidies, internal political support and external influence. The Krupp's were able to hold their own even against the Emperor and Fuhrer, demanding support in exchange for favourable procurement contracts, and using their influence to crush rival firms and influence politicians and bureaucrats.

The downfall of the Krupp family came about due to their influence in the Nazi regime. Their stranglehold over German politics was quickly disrupted under American occupation, and they were moved from private ownership to public (shareholder) ownership - something the Krupp's had always feared.

So why three stars? The book was interesting, but it was a tad dated. Written in 1968, this book has a lot to offer, but is lacking information past 1968 on the Krupp name, which still exists in merger as one of the largest firms in Europe. Manchester's analysis was interesting, but flawed. Anecdotes, untested (and unsourced) theories and personal analysis combine to make the historical narrative here feel very unprofessional, dated (which it is) and sneering in its tone. Manchester's history is now dated, but it really shows in this book. However, the information offered on the Krupp family and their ties to the fortunes and failures of the German state is fascinating and interesting. Certainly recommended for history buffs, this is a deep analysis of an industrial family tied completely to the German state, whose weapons and armaments killed many millions of people, and who both promoted the growth of Germany as a first world nation, and also indulged in the more horrific side of German history. An interesting but flawed perspective. ...more
4

Dec 07, 2018

Second time reading this massive history of Germanys biggest steel company, which for centuries provided the arms and munitions not only for its home country, but for militaries and malefactors all around the world. Manchesters book is meticulously researched, showing both the eccentric, tormented personalities, Krupp and otherwise, who ran the firm throughout its long history (the ambitious and delusional Alfred, tragic homosexual Fritz, stern nationalist Gustav, cannon queen Bertha and amoral Second time reading this massive history of Germany’s biggest steel company, which for centuries provided the arms and munitions not only for its home country, but for militaries and malefactors all around the world. Manchester’s book is meticulously researched, showing both the eccentric, tormented personalities, Krupp and otherwise, who ran the firm throughout its long history (the ambitious and delusional Alfred, tragic homosexual Fritz, stern nationalist Gustav, “cannon queen” Bertha and amoral fanatic Alfried) and how deeply ingrained its ethic of piratical capitalism became, to the point where it sold weapons to all countries (including enemies of the Reich), encouraged Wilhelmine Germany’s expansionism and bankrolled Hitler’s rise to power, and made liberal use of slave labor during WWII. All of this led to the firm’s head, Alfried Krupp Von Bohlen und Halbach, receiving a token prison sentence at Nuremberg, only to rebuild the company into an economic powerhouse in postwar West Germany. Impressive as it often is, the book’s often undercut by Manchester’s overweening contempt for all things German: like William Shirer, he depicts an entire country’s history, culture and people as unremittingly monstrous, an understandable attitude in the shadow of Hitler but not conducive to real analysis or analysis (and certainly not a fair representation of a country who gave us Goethe, Beethoven, Einstein and so many other great artists and thinkers). In any case, Manchester’s damning tale of a country overtaken by its military-industrial complex, with imperial expansion and atrocities working hand in glove with a voracious appetite for profit, seems far more universal than mere Teutonic intransigence. ...more
4

May 22, 2015

THE ARMS OF KRUPP is William Manchester's massive biography of the Krupp Dynasty, beginning with the earliest records of the family in the 1500's to the death of Alfried Krupp in 1967, and the transformation of the Krupp company from a single owner concern to that of a corporation in 1968. Yet the scope of the book entails far more than just the Krupp family--one might call it a social and political biography of Germany, as viewed through the lens of this one arms manufacturing firm...at least THE ARMS OF KRUPP is William Manchester's massive biography of the Krupp Dynasty, beginning with the earliest records of the family in the 1500's to the death of Alfried Krupp in 1967, and the transformation of the Krupp company from a single owner concern to that of a corporation in 1968. Yet the scope of the book entails far more than just the Krupp family--one might call it a social and political biography of Germany, as viewed through the lens of this one arms manufacturing firm...at least until history catches up to the last Krupp to head the firm.

Before getting into that, though, I would first like to say that this is truly a fascinating book. Clocking in at over 800 pages (excluding indices), it would have to be; but Manchester's style is lively AND detailed, and to my mind, rarely became bogged down by the vast amount of material that he had to cover. (The ending, as Manchester reports on the final years of the firm, does seem to get away from him, but this is quite minor.) What we get is a lucid and relatively concise history of the rise of the firm, and how it was inextricably linked to the rise of modern Germany. For myself, the insights gleaned from Manchester's account of Krupp's contribution to the Prussian Army for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was alone worth reading the book--the credit he gives to Krupp's cannon for effectively winning the war may be a shade reductionist, but I appreciated the emphasis on how technological advancements were critical, as well as just how important the war was in history. As it was essentially waged as a ploy by Bismarck to reunify Germany, one has to wonder what the implications for the 20th Century would have been had Prussia lost.

It is the interwar period of 1918-1939 that I sensed a shift in the author's tone--rather than an account, it seemed rather to be laying down a framework with which to present a case against the firm and its proprietors. With the narrative of Alfried Krupp's leadership during the war years, Manchester builds on that framework, detailing the firm's use of slave labor, and its plundering of occupied countries. That case was also made a Nuremburg in 1948, when Alfried was sentenced to 12 years in Landesburg Prison for war crimes. Yet Alfried was released after only 2 years for political reasons, and regained control of his vast empire and wealth.

Manchester, writing 20 years later, seems imbued with a determination to keep the then recent history fresh before the public; one can almost sense the author's grim surprise that a Nazi war criminal was not only released from prison early and allowed to become one of the wealthiest men on Earth, but that, with the passage of less than a decade of his conviction, the world seemed to either have forgotten his crimes, or worse, looked upon him as victim. Manchester is not so much malicious here as he is dogged--over half the book details the firm's association with National Socialism. Yet one also perceives the author's grudging respect for his quarry despite his crimes, as well as many of the other members of the family.

It was surprising to me that two reviews for the book when it was first published (Kirkus and Time Magazine) were both slighting. Kirkus' review (by Alistair Horne, no less), seemed especially harsh--compared to popular history accounts that I've read which were published in the last 10 years or so, Manchester's Krupp account seems positively restrained, elevated. Yet Horne accuses him of both pedantry and leaden prose, as well as unfairly depicting all the Krupps as malevolent. I just didn't see any of that at all. Unfortunately, Time Magazine's review is hidden by a subscription wall, but an short excerpt says that the book's "inflated pretensions as a work of real scholarship are punctured by swarms of errors." Whether these errors relate to factual details or to Manchester's conclusion, the excerpt fails to mention, but again, it also accuses him of unfairly caricaturizing the German people. That does not ring true to me either (I thought Barbara Tuchman far worse in THE GUNS OF AUGUST), which makes me wonder about the 'swarms of errors'.

Then again, I'm not an historian, so Manchester may have completely bamboozled me. Still, bamboozled or not, I found THE ARMS OF KRUPP's 800 pages a relative breeze to read through, and his insights compelling, something that would not have happened had it been a pedantic, leaden, caricature-ridden account. Highly recommended for students of German and European history. ...more
3

Apr 17, 2013

William Manchester provided crucial details I needed in understanding the personality of my great-great-grandfather, Alfred Krupp (1812-1887) and how he banished and disinherited his own daughter, Engelbertha. While acknowledging Manchester's historical flaws, excessive insults and sarcasm, the book and his propensity for disliking Germans of that time, he did the research necessary for me to complete my book, "The Cannon King's Daughter: Banished from a dynasty, the true, untold story of William Manchester provided crucial details I needed in understanding the personality of my great-great-grandfather, Alfred Krupp (1812-1887) and how he banished and disinherited his own daughter, Engelbertha. While acknowledging Manchester's historical flaws, excessive insults and sarcasm, the book and his propensity for disliking Germans of that time, he did the research necessary for me to complete my book, "The Cannon King's Daughter: Banished from a dynasty, the true, untold story of Engelbertha Krupp." Manchester unwittingly helped uncover the first unrecorded banishment from within the Krupp family. ...more
4

Apr 20, 2018

The late William Manchester, master of twentieth century popular history, made his reputation with this book, published in 1968. There will never be another book on the Krupp family like it, and not just because its so long, nearly half a million words and a thousand pages. It is also because the Krupps are largely forgotten today, fifty years laterand because Manchester personally talked to nearly everyone in, and connected to, the Krupp family at its height, and those people are all dead. Just The late William Manchester, master of twentieth century popular history, made his reputation with this book, published in 1968. There will never be another book on the Krupp family like it, and not just because it’s so long, nearly half a million words and a thousand pages. It is also because the Krupps are largely forgotten today, fifty years later—and because Manchester personally talked to nearly everyone in, and connected to, the Krupp family at its height, and those people are all dead. Just as dead is the firm itself, since the sole proprietorship that was “Krupp” no longer exists in that form or has any connection to the Krupp family. Sic transit gloria mundi, if “gloria” is the right word.

Manchester’s goal in writing this book was to combine an account of Germany’s military and industrial rise with a longitudinal view of the Krupp family. The traceable history of the Krupp family began in 1587, with the arrival of Arndt Krupp in Essen, the heart of Germany’s Ruhr region. The five generations after Arndt Krupp receive only skeletal mention in a handful of pages; the only family head who rates even a minor mention, at least in Manchester’s eyes, is Anton Krupp, who was recorded as selling musket barrels during the Thirty Years War, around 1640. Still, the family was very prominent and successful in Essen, with the usual ups and downs of early modern merchants, and by the late 1700s had moved into iron and coal. But the book really begins with the accession of Friedrich Krupp, nineteen years old, as manager of the works owned by his grandmother, in 1807. Friedrich died in 1826, and there were only four more heads thereafter. Alfred, Friedrich’s son, ran the firm until 1887. Friedrich Alfred ran it until 1902. His daughter, Bertha, inherited the firm (he had no sons), but the firm was headed by her husband, Gustav; they ran the firm until the 1940s. Their son, Alfried, ran the firm until 1967. And his son, called Arndt just as had been the first Krupp, renounced his inheritance without reluctance—and so the firm passed, due to insolvency, out of family hands in 1967, just before Alfried’s death.

The first Friedrich set the tone for the family’s 150 years of effort, focusing on cast steel of the highest quality. Making steel was then some combination of art, alchemy, and science, and the English dominated the high-end steel market. Friedrich had some success in manufacturing excellent steel on small scale, but he had constant struggles with manufacturing and creditors, and died in his thirties. Still, he was credited with being the foundation of the family’s later enormous fortune, and the hut in which he lived and died was preserved as monument inside the gigantic forest of factories that made up the Krupp works. (It was destroyed in World War II, but was rebuilt and stands today.) But his son, Alfred, an eccentric, monomaniacal genius, was the real making of the family.

Alfred’s nickname, the “Cannon King,” gives away what he was most famous for. Actually, it was railroad wheels that made him more money than cannon, at least at first. In fact, the famous interlinked three-ring logo of the Krupp firm signifies railroad wheels, not cannon muzzles. But Alfred began with almost nothing—his father’s decayed shop and hut, a few workers, and no money. And he was only fourteen years old. However, he was a workaholic perfectionist, and scraping together money and workers, he focused on high-quality steel rollers, and then he went about selling them and other products near and far, with a mixture of bombast and bravado. Really, he exemplified what I have always said a starting entrepreneur must do—say “yes” to every potential customer inquiry, and figure out how to accomplish it later. Alfred, for example, assured the Prussian government he could produce a million pounds of cast steel a year, which was totally ludicrous. And then he traveled to France and England, making similar promises (and awkwardly spying on the English, who were not fooled and didn’t care anyway, since they would have been happy to show him what they were doing). For decades his business went up and down, but on an upward trajectory—especially after he turned to weapons for the first time, in 1844, though for reasons that are completely unknown.

Weapons, primarily artillery of various types, made the Krupps, although that was also not an easy path. As with any military procurement, between sclerosis and corruption, it was hard to get the government interested. It took many years for the Prussian government to be willing to even test Krupp weapons, despite Alfred’s constant efforts. He sold guns to any other government who would buy, primarily the English and Russians, before the Prussians bought in. And he was always, always, improving his weapons, both in quality and in capability (and making improved armor that could only be penetrated by his improved cannon). It helped that all the Krupp patriarchs were practicing engineers, deeply involved in the design and construction of implements, whether martial or peaceful, and they were only too willing to re-invest every penny of profit in continuing the growth of the business. Finally, the Prussian government also began to buy his guns, and Alfred Krupp became rich—among other expenditures, in 1870, not coincidentally the year of the Franco-Prussian War, he built a 270-room mansion in Essen.

Not that Alfred Krupp was a happy man. In fact, none of the Krupps seem to have been happy. They were all wholly dedicated to the firm, and to its continued existence as a sole proprietorship. Their relationships with their wives were rarely good (except for Gustav and Bertha); their relationships with siblings not much better, and not helped by the combination of tradition and law which dictated that the entire firm was passed to a sole heir, leaving nothing for the others. Moreover, the Krupp family heads were subject to various phobia-type mental debilities and personality quirks, and rarely seemed to be enjoying themselves, even amidst all their wealth. Still, as Prussia waxed, so did the Krupps. Alfred died in 1887, leaving a detailed, demanding will and testament to which his successors hewed closely until the demise of the firm itself. Alfred’s son, Friedrich Alfred, with whom he had a distant relationship (he had lived primarily with his mother, who had separated from her husband), succeeded to the firm’s ownership. Friedrich Alfred wasn’t all that interested in steel, but he rose to the occasion, educating himself on steelmaking and turning himself into a sales ambassador for the firm. By the peak of his power, he had 127 acres of factories under roof and manufactured 320,000 tons of the finest steel each year. In practice, much of Essen was run as a company town, and most important of all, Friedrich Alfred developed an excellent relationship with the Kaiser, Wilhelm II (strained sometimes by the ongoing Krupp habit of selling weapons to all comers).

Unknown to nearly everyone, though, Friedrich’s main diversion was running an orgy palace, centered on himself, for young men on the island of Capri. German law frowned aggressively on male homosexuality (even though a non-trivial number of high military officers were homosexual, not surprising in a male-dominated culture that denigrated women—similar in some ways to Spartan culture). Exposed by the Italian press, Friedrich Alfred killed himself in 1902, leaving the firm to his teenage daughter, Bertha. With the Kaiser’s needed approval (given that by this point the Krupp firm was regarded as essential to the military readiness of the Reich), in 1906 Bertha married a minor diplomat, Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, who added “Krupp,” to his name upon the Kaiser’s special permission, and was normally simply called “Gustav Krupp.” He was nearly a caricature of Prussian rectitude and inflexibility, and while Bertha continued to own the firm, Gustav Krupp ran it until the early 1940s, when he gradually slid into senility.

That time period, of course, was the peak of German military prowess and output. Manchester relates Krupp’s sales of weapons to governments around the world, including in the Balkan wars and World War I. By the third year of the Great War, Krupp was producing 9,000,000 shells and 3,000 cannon—every month, including monsters like “Big Bertha,” the famous, enormous howitzer. Krupp also produced ships and submarines, and so was involved in nearly every area of war technology. The result of World War I was, unsurprisingly, disastrous to the Krupp firm. Most of the factories were forcibly dismantled and given to the victors, and Gustav Krupp was formally branded a war criminal. The family largely retreated to the Austrian Alps, to the secluded Blühnbach Castle, which they had bought from the Habsburgs after Franz Ferdinand’s assassination—and which is today owned by a little-known brother of the famous Koch brothers. Gustav, though, immediately began working with the government to overturn the effects of the Versailles treaty, and was instrumental in various evasions that allowed German rearmament, although among other indignities he served a year in prison (even though he had been sentenced to fifteen years) after being convicted by a French military court on charges of “inciting a riot,” in which, propaganda gold, several Krupp workers were killed by French soldiers.. Gustav therefore missed the worst era of hyperinflation, and began the recovery of the firm, openly manufacturing civilian trinkets, and investing in the latest equipment, that would ultimately be turned to other purposes—so-called “black production.”

As the Nazis rose, Gustav eagerly hitched himself to their star, though he was always more interested in Krupp and Germany than Nazi politics as such. As Hitler overran Europe, Gustav and, increasingly, his son Alfried participated enthusiastically in stripping the conquered territories of equipment and raw materials, accelerating their own production of weaponry to hyper-speed. As Germany’s war fortunes declined, the Krupp works turned more and more to using slave labor, both at home and in plants abroad, and was involved in both the building of extermination camps and their filling. Manchester is somewhat vague on these details other than slave labor, which he exhaustively documents—presumably little is known and much only guessed, maybe in part because of the giant open-air bonfire the Krupp firm held of documents just before the Allies overran Essen. We forget, even with the German penchant for record keeping, how much can be lost in the chaos of war.

After the war, Gustav and Alfred were both indicted for war crimes. Gustav was regarded as the chief criminal, although the reality was that Alfred was more responsible, according to Manchester. But it took quite a bit of time for the Allied tribunals to realized that Gustav was incompetent to stand trial, and by the time Alfred was instead brought to trial, the Allied stance had softened, so he avoided the death penalty. Instead, he was sentenced to twelve years, of which he served five, being released as Cold War tensions increased. Manchester is incensed by this, and regards Alfred’s relatively soft treatment as a disgrace. Maybe it was, although Manchester seems far too emotional about it. But perhaps it’s just distance and time that makes it feel that way.

Yet, once again, the Krupps rebuilt. The family even came together somewhat—two of Alfred’s four brothers were killed in the war, and a third spent ten years in Russian camps, so perhaps they had to. Alfred, who had a son, Arndt, by a brief first marriage (which his mother had forced him to end, finding the bride too low class), married again, to an erratic, but vivacious, gold digger. That marriage also ended quite quickly, to Alfred’s substantial financial loss. But he was still one of the richest men in the world, or so it seemed. By this point, the firm was not so much involved in coal, steel, or weapons (all those being supposedly forbidden, although they did get back into coal and steel), but more the construction of factories for others around the world. All this was led by Alfred, but also by his chief lieutenant, Berthold Beitz, an insurance executive whom Krupp hand-picked to help him run his enormous concern.

According to Manchester, Beitz was the death of the Krupp firm. He says Beitz goosed sales, even as the German postwar “economic miracle” turned sour, by competing on price, contrary to Krupp tradition, and by offering long-term credit at very low interest rates, while borrowing short-term at high interest rates, all the time not understanding what a balance sheet is. That’s a bad set of strategies, and a worse set during a major economic downturn. (Notably, most of this credit went to Warsaw Pact countries or their client states in the Third World, continuing the Krupp tradition of putting profits over country.) Moreover, Manchester ridicules Beitz for affected Americanisms and for his inability to make friends among the “smokestack barons,” and, even more importantly, German bankers. Whatever the reason, the financial vise closed on Krupp, and in 1967 Alfried, in a deal with a massive consortium of German banks and the West German government, turned the firm from a sole proprietorship into a corporation partially owned by a foundation, receiving himself just a large annuity—which he only collected for a few months, promptly dying of lung cancer.

What about Arndt, Alfred’s son and only child, you ask? Well, let’s just say that he was shockingly effeminate and a notorious homosexual, who made very clear in the years leading up to the firm’s demise that the last thing he wanted to do was work hard at anything, and even less to work hard at running the family firm. Rather, he wanted to design costume jewelry and sail his yacht, the Antinous II (named after the presumed homosexual lover of the Emperor Hadrian) around European pleasure spots. So he renounced his inheritance even before the firm’s collapse, receiving instead a sizeable annuity—which he outspent, but lived well, mainly in Palm Beach, until dying of cancer in the 1980s, before he reached fifty years of age. (Manchester never quite comes out, pun intended, and states that Arndt was homosexual, but it’s obvious in the book, and openly acknowledged today.)

And instead of Beitz, whom Manchester dislikes so much, presiding over the firm, he was thrown out upon the demise of Krupp. But Beitz had the last laugh—he lived to 99, and only died in 2013. Moreover, he was widely honored along the way, for among other reasons by Yad Vashem for saving Jews from death, both by paperwork (similar to Oskar Schindler) and by actually hiding Jews in his house. Manchester does not mention any of this (maybe it was not known in the 1960s), but it seems like Beitz’s star, unlike Alfried’s, rose after the publication of this book.

In general, I liked "The Arms of Krupp." I could have used more information about the specifics of Krupp industry, not a commonly covered topic, and a lot less about World War II, a topic that has been covered endlessly. The earliest Krupps worked in steel, and their comparative advantage was quality and innovation. That steel became the basis of railroad wheels (and guns), as well as other steel implements. By the end, though, as shown in a chart provided by Manchester, Krupp dealt in chemicals, refineries, rubber, real estate and much more. We are given no idea, though, of how the firm got from focusing narrowly on steel to be a conglomerate. So I would have liked more industrial history and less war history. But then, I’m in the manufacturing business, so that may be a minority viewpoint.

A common complaint at the time this book was published was that Manchester was biased against the Germans as a people. It is hard to tell if that’s true, and if he was, it was understandable—the war, after all, was very much a living memory in 1968, and Alfried Krupp had largely escaped justice, which annoyed Manchester. I am no expert, but I suspect that today there is much more evidence of the bad behavior of Alfried Krupp during the war, since documentation of the Holocaust really only became a focus in the 1970s. Still, Manchester’s discussion of slave labor becomes repetitive—half the book, more or less, is spent on the Nazi era, and that could have been cut down. In fact, much of the book could have been cut down. Nonetheless, Manchester’s writing is generally excellent and compelling, which is why he was so successful as a historical popularizer with academic pretensions, and this book is a worthy entry in that genre. ...more
5

May 29, 2013

This review is for the original hardcover and not the paperback reprint. I bought this book in a used book store in the late 80ies on the strong recommendation of a friend who was many years my senior, and had served in the UK during the Second World War. It was an incredible eye opener, and caused me to re-evaluate pretty much everything I'd learned in my history classes about the military events of last three centuries. If you have any doubts that wars are caused by greed, you must read this This review is for the original hardcover and not the paperback reprint. I bought this book in a used book store in the late 80ies on the strong recommendation of a friend who was many years my senior, and had served in the UK during the Second World War. It was an incredible eye opener, and caused me to re-evaluate pretty much everything I'd learned in my history classes about the military events of last three centuries. If you have any doubts that wars are caused by greed, you must read this book. If you have any doubts about the ability of corporations to control world events, you must read this book. If you have any interest in the events that lead to the two World Wars, you must read this book. There is little more I could say that would do it justice. ...more
4

Jul 02, 2012

A superb, readable account of this masterful company that not only provided killing machines to the Germans over a century, it also sold to pretty much anyone else, and then used slave labour to feed the Reich.

An appalling story, brilliantly told. Pretty much impossible to put down, as I learned to my cost.
5

Oct 05, 2013

This book (like other Manchester books) has a rhythm without rhyme but certainly a reason to the words within. The history on the Arms of Krupp required an independent eye, an inquisitive mind, and a pen that wouldnt be scared to ask the hard questions in the early to mid-1960s time frame. Manchester did this and did this extremely well in my opinion no author did this better, then-nor-since. The completion of this book was interrupted with his personal attention at the request of Jackie This book (like other Manchester books) has a rhythm – without rhyme – but certainly a reason to the words within. The history on the “Arms of Krupp” required an independent eye, an inquisitive mind, and a pen that wouldn’t be scared to ask the hard questions in the early to mid-1960’s time frame. Manchester did this and did this extremely well – in my opinion no author did this better, then-nor-since. The completion of this book was interrupted with his personal attention at the request of Jackie Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy to write a book on the assassination of President Kennedy. “Death of a President” nearly cost him his sanity – but he survived.

The Author: William Manchester (1 April 1922 – 1 June 2004) was a Marine Veteran of the Second World War in the Pacific. As an Author, Manchester was a rare talent; and, one in which words were his love and writing his passion – combining the two was obvious, but his ability to report facts as though the words were notes of music compiled to symphonies is to place a mild reflection upon a lasting legacy; his writing was to the literary world of History flowed smoother than satin sheets to skin. He may have had a dark side; but, even this he attempted best to overcome with a book he published in 1978 entitled “Goodbye Darkness”. President Kennedy who was a friend to this author even before he himself was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts – invited Mr. Manchester for a visit in June of 1963 while he (the President) was in Berlin. (USMC Sergeant Manchester was hospital roommates in Balboa Naval Hospital with one US Navy Lieutenant Jack Kennedy.) Mr. Manchester had to decline the offer of a visit as he was at the many site locations and with working documents for this book “Arms of Krupp” at the time. Mr. Manchester states in his 1967 re-published book of the 1962 best seller “Portrait of a President” that President Kennedy had asked to meet with him during the above referenced time frame and that he (Manchester) believed it best he not meet under the current circumstances of the particular topic to which he was researching as it would likely lead to negative press for him (the President). This book, in my opinion, is yet another portrait of different topic; one that is filled with science, business, and research; and yet, one that is very dark, disturbing, and filled with extreme sadness – the message conveyed in this book is the greater link of the company that otherwise would have been lost had Manchester merely focused on the Second World War. Most Americans would become familiar with the name “Krupp” both during and after the Second World War. This book is not just about the Second World War however, this book is about the long standing history of the Krupp, A.G. and later the Fried. Krupp name of historic proportions. True, the Second World War takes a big chunk of this book; however, without knowing of the humble beginnings of the Krupp Works there is no ability to place any part of Krupp to the Second World War that would make any sense. The Alfried Krupp that took over the family firm in November 1943 was in my opinion the most intelligent and yet most dark of all the Krupp’s before him – even his Grandfather Alfried “Fritz” Krupp who was quite dark in his own right held no darkness to the equal of his later grandson. The Great Grandfather to Alfried Krupp was also named “Alfried”.

The whole accounting of the Krupp, A.G. and later Fried. Krupp organization begins with the foundation in 1587. To look at the whole company and reflections of the Second World War alone would do an injustice as to the evolution of the company; any focus merely on the years of 1939-1945 would only make the reader confused. Manchester had to go all the way back to the beginning to understand fully the implications of the time this book was researched, written, and then published a near quarter of a century had passed from the time of the conclusion of WW II to the date of publish of the first edition. This too was perfect timing. Given that research began in 1956 and that the book was then printed in 1968 it was far enough in time away from the end of WW II that Holocaust Survivors, Kruppanier (what workers of Krupp were named), and the Kanonenkönig himself still with a collective memory and existence of life still present at the time from the war years.

Without going into great detail of the book so that others may read, ponder, and interpret for themselves there are interesting points I will share. These take up but small paragraphs overall and shed no intrinsic value at to the whole of the history of Krupp the family and/or Krupp the business. It is here we discover the famous term of “Big Bertha” among many other colloquialisms that future generations will use repeatedly and have no clear understanding of the origin.

The science I found fascinating in this book was such as the discovery of Krupp Austenitic Steel; also simply known as KA-2 Steel. This KA-2 Steel (the very first stainless steel anywhere in the world at the time) that caps the Chrysler building in Manhattan. At the same time or period of time – Kruppanier technicians had developed a method for converting low grade iron ore into high grade steel – the process became known as Renn bloomer. All losses incurred during the First World War were hence recuperated as a result. Krupp manufacturing on the other hand ignored all the International Rules established per terms they signed in 1926 – European nations such as France who had been twice devastated by Germany in a half century to this point in time were left impotent to enforce any of the rules; rules were being broken quietly – persons calling this out at the time and questioning points such as “where is all the steel going?” were simply considered “warmongers.” The science applied simply allowed Krupp post-WW I to survive for another time frame – not far in the future.

Manchester makes a great effort to in the Post WW II period to discuss, reflect, share the history of the many “Sklavenarbeit.” The focus covers many persons, some in particular, and all races accordingly – the Jews who suffered the worst of all next to and alongside the many good Polish (Jew and Gentile alike), there are stories of Belgian, Dutch, French, Slavs, Czech’s, Russians among the many. There is no way to cover all the slave labor population; there were simply too many of them – but in clearly a Manchester style of prose he attempts to cover about a dozen stories in order to attempt to capture the many lost unknown souls – to include the babies at age 2 years and under. Buschmannshoff forced me to lay the book down for two days – Dechenschule opened up a new avenue of discovery for me personally. Thank you Mr. Manchester – the history you wrote has an impact even today among the many still interested. Holocaust "nay sayers" be damned.

This masterpiece covers Krupp 1587 to Krupp 1968 – both named “Arndt”. Discovery, Science, History, Truth, Pain – all covered in this William Manchester book – if you read all three volumes of “Last Lion”, read “American Caesar”, read “Goodbye Darkness”, and/or read “Death of a President” – the vibe and rhythm exist here in this “Arms of Krupp” as it does in all of his other major works. For those familiar with his other works you will appreciate the paragraph to the Marines of “Pas Fini” and the Battle of Belleauwood he provided in honor of his Father but no clear reference to his Father is provided – this was a different sort of history but it too has its link. William Manchester's Father served in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines during the First World War - Mr. Manchester would do the same during WW II - his Father had passed away prior to 7 December 1941.

Semper Fidelis
...more
5

Oct 16, 2015

Great report on a piece of history! Germans: some crazy, some brilliant, some both.
2

Nov 20, 2015

A very long book, but it covers a long span of history, 1587 to 1968. This is a history of the Krupp family and the Krupp manufacturing company. They are primarily known for manufacturing weapons for Germany in World War II, but also armed virtually every nation in the years preceding World War I and prior. Much to my surprise, they also manufactured the majority of the world's rail wheels during the 1800s. Really the book deserves two and a half stars. I realize that the Krupp family is German, A very long book, but it covers a long span of history, 1587 to 1968. This is a history of the Krupp family and the Krupp manufacturing company. They are primarily known for manufacturing weapons for Germany in World War II, but also armed virtually every nation in the years preceding World War I and prior. Much to my surprise, they also manufactured the majority of the world's rail wheels during the 1800s. Really the book deserves two and a half stars. I realize that the Krupp family is German, and most of the book takes place in Germany, but a good quarter of the book is in German. At times the author is the German source material in the actual text, with the translation in parentheses and other times the opposite--no consistency there. Even though I've taken two years of German in high school, I skipped the actual German--still it makes for harder reading. Probably the most shocking was the later WW II years when the family used Jewish and other prisoners as forced labor. I knew this was done, but shocking at the extent. Krupp was supposed to have broken apart after the war as a condition of the war tribunals, but it didn't happen. I suppose one of the first modern day examples of being 'too big to fail'. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone but true diehards of WW I and WW II history from the German perspective, ...more
4

Feb 24, 2018

The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War
by William Manchester The story of the Krupp family and steel manufacturing. It's a massive book & some detailed information on iron and steel forging processes over the last 3 centuries. Intriguing involved in earliest industrial espionage at the Sheffield steel works in England early 1850s stealing ideas & give themselves the ability to forge larger stable blocks of steel for incredibly large The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War
by William Manchester The story of the Krupp family and steel manufacturing. It's a massive book & some detailed information on iron and steel forging processes over the last 3 centuries. Intriguing involved in earliest industrial espionage at the Sheffield steel works in England early 1850s stealing ideas & give themselves the ability to forge larger stable blocks of steel for incredibly large cannons. Has lots of side stories of tendering for railroad building across early America. Then the modifications and some early failures of canons from brass to steel. Gobsmacked by the industrial ineptitude and no clearly defined plan on what to build during the Second World War, resources fluttered away on useless projects and extremely over complicated machines. At wars disastrous end the victors wholesale stripping of these factories, the brutal treatment of slave labor and crimes against them and no real justice handed out. Right up to the rebirth of Krupp fortunes by the 60s and being a major player again on the world stage of steel manufacturing through some clever acquisitions and technical developments. Signs of the corporate world comes thus ending Krupp family total control but still a major shareholder evolving into the ThyssenKrupp corporation a world leader in steel manufacturing. ...more
3

Feb 12, 2014

On sheer size alone respect must be paid to this history of one the longest lasting private companies in the world. Manchester produced a monumental work detailing the high points of over three hundred years of arms and material production.

As a readable work it is a little dry in spots unless you have a real love of business proceedings. For me he loses his linear progression in the last third of the book, and the story becomes a constant retelling of the same stories surrounding the Nazi On sheer size alone respect must be paid to this history of one the longest lasting private companies in the world. Manchester produced a monumental work detailing the high points of over three hundred years of arms and material production.

As a readable work it is a little dry in spots unless you have a real love of business proceedings. For me he loses his linear progression in the last third of the book, and the story becomes a constant retelling of the same stories surrounding the Nazi regime. While central to the late history of the concern I think it became this huge, circular, carping point.

Quite a read. ...more
5

Sep 21, 2011

One of my favorite books. Contrary to many other reviewers, I like the fact that Manchester has a point of view about figures like the Krupp family. The book is endlessly fascinating and provides a unique perspective of the last 3 centuries of Germany's development as a nation and an industrial power. As a business owner, I was especially struck but what I consider to be the abuse of power by the Krupp dynasty, specifically the WWII generation. The use of slave labor is always wrong and is One of my favorite books. Contrary to many other reviewers, I like the fact that Manchester has a point of view about figures like the Krupp family. The book is endlessly fascinating and provides a unique perspective of the last 3 centuries of Germany's development as a nation and an industrial power. As a business owner, I was especially struck but what I consider to be the abuse of power by the Krupp dynasty, specifically the WWII generation. The use of slave labor is always wrong and is especially loathsome when used by a corporation. Krupp should have been broken up after the war. ...more
4

May 09, 2007

I liked this book so much I had to read it again 10 years later. It clearly shows how military industry can influence government. We Americans have the same problem in this country, as was shown during the Vietnam war and again with the Iraq war. Billions of dollars go to industry while the common man dies and pays his taxes.
If you liked this book you may also want to read THE COLDEST WINTER,
4

Jun 24, 2008

This explains how Germany became such an aggressive state in the first place, and how they were able to rearm between the world wars. It follows one family's dynasty as the chief arms manufacturer and industrialist of the country for over 300 years. Amazingly detailed and researched. Can be dense reading, and at 1,000+ pages, requires a bit of investment.
5

May 09, 2013

This is the best historical account of a dynamic and fascinating dynasty that I've ever read. Don't let it's length scare you. It's very readable, powerful and insightful. I didn't want to put it down! I've recommended it often to the delight of others and it's on my re-read list! It deserves 6 stars.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
4

Aug 25, 2012

You'd think the subject matter would be very dull. But Manchester really brought the family's history to life. And the effects of running an important war-related business under hitler were fascinating.
3

Apr 27, 2010

This history of the Krupp family and their enterprises appears to be exhaustive, too exhaustive. I found myself getting bored with the thing. As is said, a capitalist would manufacture and sell the ropes used to hang capitalists if there was a margin in it.
4

Jan 15, 2011

I think of this book as a testimony to Manchester's excellent writing style. Why else whould I have waded thru almost a thousand pages on one German family dynasty. I read this book sometime in the 1980s.
3

Nov 14, 2017

Monumental but mumbled. There are at least three books merged into one slightly messy tome here. The basic story of the Krupp-dynasty and their role in German history. Krupp, the Nazi supporter and exploiter and exterminator of slavelabour. Alfried, the last Krupp and his tragedy . Having them intertwined tends to defocus and create an uneven and obviously biased account. Perhaps a rewrite at 50 years of distance would be beneficial?

Still it is worth the the arduous slog through the many pages Monumental but mumbled. There are at least three books merged into one slightly messy tome here. The basic story of the Krupp-dynasty and their role in German history. Krupp, the Nazi supporter and exploiter and exterminator of slavelabour. Alfried, the last Krupp and his tragedy . Having them intertwined tends to defocus and create an uneven and obviously biased account. Perhaps a rewrite at 50 years of distance would be beneficial?

Still it is worth the the arduous slog through the many pages and fills an important facet of Germn history. ...more
2

Jun 27, 2019

Look, it's OK, but it's not what it should be, it's not great.
We get adequate coverage of European (and some) world history since say the 1830's (but you should know this all already). We get a biography of each head of the company, and a biography of the company itself. BUT there is so much missing...

First the title (at least in some variants) promises a discussion of early modern industry (ie 16th through 18th C) but that coverage is extremely limited and says nothing much of interest; the Look, it's OK, but it's not what it should be, it's not great.
We get adequate coverage of European (and some) world history since say the 1830's (but you should know this all already). We get a biography of each head of the company, and a biography of the company itself. BUT there is so much missing...

First the title (at least in some variants) promises a discussion of early modern industry (ie 16th through 18th C) but that coverage is extremely limited and says nothing much of interest; the book really starts in the early 19th C.

Second the author is clearly interested primarily in "traditional" history and biography. So we get pretty much zero discussion of WHY Krupp was so successful. It's pretty much implied that this was because of the manic energy of the mid 19th C leader, and his cozy relationship with Prussia's leaders, but this really explains little to nothing. We are never told WHY his steel was so superior to competitors, or why his weapons were so superior. The author has no interest in metallurgy, chemistry, physics, engineering, anything like. Likewise he has no interest in finance or the various alternatives by which companies can be governed and financed. We are frequently told of various supposed crises during the 19th C, but only insofar as Alfred Krupp complained about them -- we see no dispassionate description of the reality of these crises, how they compared to other industries, how Krupp compared in size or efficiency to other businesses, what it did well vs not well, etc.

All this is most disappointing. Essentially what you get is a review of history that everyone already knows, while that parts specific to Krupp, the parts of actual interest, are nonexistent. I'd have far preferred a technological, or even a financial, history of Krupp. ...more
3

Apr 14, 2020

Long before the end, I just wanted it to be done. This is the third and last of Manchester's book that I have read. Nine hundred sixty seven interminable pages of obscure factoids on a German industrial family's foibles, squabbles, scandals, and spending is not redeemed by the occasional excellent section. And there some excellent sections, primarily on the the part German industrialists played in the rise of Hitler, and on Krupp's part in WWII era enslaved labor. The latter section is Long before the end, I just wanted it to be done. This is the third and last of Manchester's book that I have read. Nine hundred sixty seven interminable pages of obscure factoids on a German industrial family's foibles, squabbles, scandals, and spending is not redeemed by the occasional excellent section. And there some excellent sections, primarily on the the part German industrialists played in the rise of Hitler, and on Krupp's part in WWII era enslaved labor. The latter section is particularly haunting. But it does not make up for all the rest. Like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Manchester never met an anecdote he did not decide to include, along with a massive amount of context.

I like thick history books, but they must be well-written. They must hold my attention, not force my character to pay it. And it was only the latter that drove me across the finish line of this book. ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result