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Friedrich Krupp AG Grusonwerk , armored ironworks
Friedrich Krupp AG Grusonwerk , steel foundry

The Gruson factory in Magdeburg - Buckau was founded in 1855 by Hermann Gruson , later part of Friedrich Krupp AG and developed into one of the most important mechanical engineering and armaments companies in Germany.

Foundation and development until 1886

Hermann Gruson founded on June 1st, 1855 in Buckau near Magdeburg, at the confluence of the Sülze in the Elbe , a "shipyard and machine factory on the Elbe", as well as an iron foundry. The company was soon renamed "Machine Factory and Shipbuilding Workshop H. Gruson Buckau-Magdeburg". Shortly afterwards, the young company found itself in a difficult situation due to the trade crisis in the 1850s; after the Elbe shipping was shut down, the shipyard also ceased operations in 1858 due to a lack of orders. Gruson now concentrated on iron foundry and developed methods to increase the strength of cast iron . The mixture of different types of pig iron produced a refined cast iron of greater strength by means of so-called charging and thus made the material usable for use in ship and machine parts that had previously been made of wrought iron or steel. The chilled cast iron developed by the Gruson works was of great importance for the development of mechanical engineering and railways in Germany . The Magdeburg-Halberstädter Eisenbahn was built with products from the Gruson factory.

"Exzelsiormühle" shredding machine

The company also successfully further developed the Anglo-American permanent mold casting . This new technology made the process, which had previously only been used for rollers and railway wheels, also applicable to other areas. In 1858 the Grusonwerk started manufacturing the heart and cross pieces of railway tracks made of chilled cast iron. The company thus received significant orders and became known worldwide.

Around 250 workers were employed in the plant in the mid-1860s. The original factory had long since become too small. A new plant was therefore built between 1869 and 1872 on the Magdeburg – Halberstadt railway line. Strikes broke out in the company in 1859, and in view of the growing labor movement , Heinrich Gruson decided to adopt a better wage and social policy.

In 1882 the Gruson factory took over a hot lead press for cable sheathing. In addition to chilled cast iron and steel products, the plant's production included crushing and ore processing plants, rolling mills for all metals, plants for cement and ballast works, crane systems and transport equipment, powder factories and salt mills.

Defense industry

In terms of weapons technology, the development of the chill cast grenade was decisive for the development of the Gruson factory . The new material was able to penetrate the wrought iron armor in use up to that point better than the steel grenade, which was not hardened at the time.

After 1860 the company received extensive armaments orders from the Prussian military, for example in 1865 for the manufacture of tank shells. In May 1866 newly designed projectiles were successful in a test shooting in Mainz against a gun stand for land fortifications constructed by Max Schumann from English material. A comparison shooting of Gruson's guns and grenades against English makes on the Berlin-Tegel shooting range in 1868 showed a clear superiority of German makes. In 1869, the company presented its first hard cast iron armor to the Prussian minister of war and the high military in Tegel . An expansion of the production became necessary and from 1869 to 1871 further factories were built in the Marienstrasse. At Tangerhütte , the Grusonwerk had a ten-kilometer-long firing range built in 1888 for testing and demonstrating its own guns. At the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the factory was producing mounts for 21 cm guns.

Armored rotating observation post in Fort Prinz Karl , manufactured by Grusonwerk in 1893

From 1873 onwards, Gruson developed turrets made of chilled cast iron and, in collaboration with Schumann, also developed the so-called minimal slot carriages , which the plant also produced. From 1882 the Schumann tank mount was further developed as a suitable tank construction for fortresses and was demonstrated in 1885 during shooting attempts in Bucharest. Small and medium-caliber rapid-fire cannons were also developed. In 1885 there were comparative shooting attempts in Bucharest with French tank manufacturers. The Gruson-Schumann tower was superior to the French one. As a result of those firing attempts, the Gruson factory received significant orders for armored turrets not only from Germany, but also from Belgium, Holland, Austria and Romania.

The Grusonwerk also manufactured a movable armored turret, the so-called Fahrpanzer, as well as the first armored turrets for German fortifications. For example, several forts with rotating armored towers were built in the Weser estuary from 1871 to defend the coast . In addition, armored turrets and gun stands were made for the Italian naval port of La Spezia . The development and construction of guns made plant expansions necessary.

Thus the Grusonwerk with its armored turrets - and the Krupp company with its cannons - dominated the world market for many years.

Foundation of the stock corporation and history until 1893

In 1886 the company was converted into a stock corporation , which was entered in the commercial register under the name Grusonwerk AG Buckau . In 1887, the production of cast steel began in a new foundry .

After a company leasing agreement was signed with Friedrich Krupp AG in Essen in 1892, it was sold to Krupp AG in 1893. The company was now called Friedrich Krupp AG Grusonwerk .

History from 1893 to 1945

Fried. Krupp AG Grusonwerk , contemporary advertisement
Fried. Krupp AG Grusonwerk , voucher during inflation

After the takeover of Grusonwerk AG Buckau , Friedrich Alfred Krupp commented on this as follows:

“The manufacture of armored turrets was an absolute necessity for my plant, but I knew that the world market for two German plants in this area had no place. I would have done my fatherland a disservice if I had paralyzed a flourishing factory with all its workers and officials through the overwhelming power of capital; I preferred to purchase it and I think that this decision will subsequently be a blessing for both the Grusonwerk and me. "

The entire production of armored turrets and large guns at the Magdeburg plant was subsequently relocated to the Krupp main plant in Essen . On June 30, 1903, the name was changed to Fried. Krupp AG Grusonwerk , on June 27, 1923 another in Fried. Krupp Grusonwerk AG Magdeburg .

In 1922 the now listed building at Schönebecker Strasse 69-72 was built as an official residence for the plant.

Production range

Krupp continued the production program of Grusonwerk AG Buckau and expanded it to include processing and rolling mills, metallurgical plants and ore processing plants, and mixing plants for the chemical industry . In addition, wheels and wheel sets were produced for mechanical engineering, equipment for locks and weirs for hydraulic engineering, hoists ( cranes ) and conveyor systems, complete equipment for cement, gypsum, etc. Lime works, classifying plants for the preparation of hard and lignite, coal grinding and mixing plants, equipment for salt mills and chlorinated potassium factories, machines for the production of cables and wire ropes, machines for processing rubber, asbestos and cellular horn, machines for cable works, for linoleum production, for processing of sisal hemp, for the extraction of vegetable oils, baling plants, coffee peeling machines, sugar cane rolling mills, grist mills for agriculture and trade as well as screening plants.

A tank was developed and tested as early as the First World War , probably based on the A7V .

Kampfpanzer IV Ausf. F 1 with 7.5 cm KwK L / 24
Grusonwerk, destroyed production hall for torpedoes

In the 1930s, the Grusonwerk produced the first prototypes of the Panzer I , later the Panzer IV (the only manufacturer until the end of 1941) and, based on the Panzer IV, the Sturmgeschütz IV and the gun car IV ( Dicker Max self-propelled gun ), as well as various special motor vehicles ( Sd.Kfz. ). Production took place in a 3-shift system.

In 1944 the plant fell victim to extensive bombings, but was able to maintain its production output. Part of the production had been outsourced, for example, the United East and Central German Cement AG in Nienburg (Saale) manufactured the planetary gears for the tanks and the agricultural machinery manufacturer W. Siedersleben in Bernburg the fan systems. At the end of the war, however, productivity was severely reduced due to a shortage of workers and raw materials, and the workforce surrendered to the Americans when they invaded.

After 1945

By the end of the Second World War , around 80 percent of the plant had been destroyed and the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) took over management. Almost half of the remaining systems were dismantled . On November 1, 1946, the name was changed to Maschinenfabrik Krupp-Gruson of the Soviet machine construction company ( SAG ), a Soviet general director was appointed. On May 1, 1951, the plant was transformed into the state-owned AG for mechanical engineering, branch in Germany, heavy engineering "Ernst Thälmann" Magdeburg . On January 1, 1954, the company was transformed into VEB Schwermaschinenbau "Ernst Thälmann", Magdeburg-Buckau . The VEB Heavy Machinery Combine "Ernst Thälmann" ( SKET ) was founded on January 1st, 1969.

After the fall of the Wall and the peaceful revolution in the GDR , former combine companies were spun off as GmbHs from the beginning of 1990, and in 1993 the Treuhand privatized these companies.


  • Christoph Kretschmann: From Grusonwerk to SKET. 150 years of industrial history. Delta-D publishing house, Magdeburg 2005, ISBN 3-935831-28-5 .
  • Axel Kühling: Krupp Grusonwerk. Tanks from Magdeburg 1933–1945. DELTA-D publishing house, Magdeburg 2001, ISBN 3-935831-02-1 .

Web links

Commons : Grusonwerk  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Heinz Nix:  Gruson, Hermann Jacques August. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , p. 237 f. ( Digitized version ).
  2. ^ Brochure Magdeburg Honorary Citizen. State capital Magdeburg, 1994, accessed on April 9, 2013 .
  3. ^ A b Franz Maria Feldhaus:  Gruson, Hermann . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 49, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1904, pp. 606-612.
  4. Grusonwerk. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on February 18, 2013 ; Retrieved April 9, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. History of the company. SKET, accessed April 9, 2013 .