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Alfred Krupp

(April 26, 1812 - JULY 14, 1887)

Alfred Krupp, the second child and oldest son of Friedrich (1787 - 1826) and Therese (1790 - 1850) Krupp, is forced to leave grammar school and abandon his plans to serve an apprenticeship in the Düsseldorf mint when his father becomes seriously ill. He joins the firm and supports his mother who takes over the management of the company after the death of her husband in 1826. First his sister and later his brothers also join the firm, which now produces cast steel, tanner's tools, coin dies and rolls.

In 1848 Alfred Krupp becomes the sole proprietor of the company which from 1850 experiences its first major growth surge. In 1849 his equally talented brother Hermann (1814 - 1879) takes over the hardware factory Metallwarenfabrik in Berndorf near Vienna, which Krupp had established together with Alexander Schöller six years earlier. The factory manufactures cutlery in a rolling process developed by the brothers. The youngest brother Friedrich also ceases to work for the company.

Krupp's main products are machinery and machine components made of high-quality cast steel, especially equipment for the railroads, most notably the seamless wheel tire, and from 1859 to an increased extent artillery. To secure raw materials and feedstock for his production, Krupp acquires ore deposits, coal mines and iron works. On Alfred Krupp's death in 1887 the company employs 20,200 people. His great business success is based on the quality of the products, systematic measures to secure sales, the use of new cost-effective steel-making techniques, good organization within the company, and the cultivation of a loyal and highly qualified workforce among other things through an extensive company welfare system.

Alfred and Bertha Krupp with son Friedrich Alfred, ca. 1869
Alfred and Bertha Krupp with son Friedrich Alfred, ca. 1869

In 1853 Alfred Krupp marries the much younger Bertha Eichhoff (1831 - 1888), daughter of August Eichhoff, a retired Rhine customs inspector from Cologne. In 1854 their only son Friedrich Alfred is born.

Throughout his life Alfred Krupp devotes himself to the company and to ensuring its continued long-term survival. He establishes principles which will be upheld at Krupp, specifying that earnings must be ploughed back into the company and the company must be passed down to a single heir only. A rather unassuming person in his private life, he is quick to publicly promote the company, its products and also its welfare schemes as a means of advertising. Krupp declines invitations to join political bodies and associations in the same way as he refuses a title of nobility. In his private life he loves the theater, music and small gatherings of his closest friends and relations. But at the same time by building Villa Hügel (1870 - 1873) he creates a worthy representational setting for receiving business visitors. In his old age he withdraws to Villa Hügel, but even then he frequently intervenes - mostly in writing - in the company's business affairs.

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