In 1905 in preparation for the firm's 100th anniversary, a works archive is set up for the Krupp company (established 1811). It is thus the oldest German company archive of modern times.
In the following years the works archive serves as a historical records and research office under various organizational designations. In the same year Margarethe Krupp sets up the Hügel family archive to safeguard the documents in the possession of the family of owners resident at Villa Hügel. For a long time the two archives are organized separately but maintained by the same staff according to a uniform archiving system. In the early years work focuses on researching the Krupp history. Two commemorative volumes are produced on the basis of numerous internal studies on individual themes. In parallel with this, the first documents are transferred to the archive, though in many cases documents are loaned from the administrative registers and returned after evaluation. In the early years the archive's organizational allocation and management change frequently.
On January 1, 1913, management of the works archive is entrusted to Wilhelm Berdrow (1867 - 1954), who had already been involved with the preparation of the commemorative volumes since 1909. His work continues to focus on writing the history of the firm, even after ill health forces him to retire as head of the archive in 1921. Among other things he produces biographies of the proprietors of the firm and publications on the history of the Krupp and von Bohlen und Halbach families. Berdrow is succeeded by Fritz Gerhard Kraft (1884 - 1950), who has worked in the history department from the very beginning. Over the next few years the archive is subject to severe restrictions in terms of staff and office space owing to the company's unfavorable business situation. It is not until October 1938 that the archive is allowed more staff and space for a short period during which the records are updated and expanded.
Following heavy bombing in September 1942 around 10% of the records are lost. In 1943 the archive is moved to Burg Botzlar castle near Selm/Westphalia. In 1944 the family archive is transferred to a potash mine belonging to Wintershall AG in Unterbreizbach/Rhön. After confiscation by the allied troops it is released from the document center in Herford and taken to Schloss Hugenpoet near Kettwig before finally being returned to Villa Hügel in 1954. In March 1946 the history department is disbanded, the records are placed under the management of the economic department. Fritz Gerhard Kraft retires.
In 1954 the company decides to set up an independent works archive again, partly in view of the firm's 150th anniversary in 1961. In. 1955 Dr. Ernst Schröder (1907 - 1999) is made head of the now combined family and works archive at Villa Hügel, which in 1958 is assigned to a single organizational unit known as the Historical Archive. Schröder continues to run the archive in accordance with the librarianship principles established when the archive was founded. His work focuses on his own research, especially into the history of the company and the city of Essen. After Schröder retires on April 1, 1972 the archive is managed for a few years by Dr. Wolfgang Vollrath, executive member of the board of trustees of Villa Hügel e.V., which is responsible for the art exhibitions.
On July 1, 1976 Dr. Renate Köhne takes over as head of the Krupp Historical Archive, which over subsequent years is restructured and expanded in accordance with academic archiving principles. Extensive records are systematically transferred from the Group's headquarters and subsidiaries. Intensive work is carried out on developing the records, from 1984 onwards with the assistance of computers. In the 1990s a special project is launched to catalog and develop the film records. While concentrating on and expanding the internal services it provides for the company, the archive also increasingly supports external historical research projects and assists with exhibitions. In collaboration with other archives in the region and the Ruhr local government association, selected industrial films are shown to the public in a two-year cycle. Particular mention should be made of the archive's involvement in academic research projects of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation which have produced publications on Villa Hügel and photography as a historical source as well as two monographs on the history of the company in the 19th and 20th century.
Since the merger of Thyssen and Krupp the former Thyssen archive has carried out the function of Group archive for the new Group. Since 1998 the Krupp Historical Archive has belonged to the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation and, based at Villa Hügel, operates as a center for Krupp History.
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