Krupp cast steel factory

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Location of large parts of the cast steel factory west of the Essen city center (around 1920)
Administration building with clock tower 1861
At the main entrance area to the former cast steel works with the Alfred Krupp monument around 1910, on the right the 8th mechanical workshop, today the Colosseum Theater , on the far left the main sales point of the Krupp consumer institution from 1874, the so-called Krupp Bazaar

The Krupp cast steel factory in Essen formed the nucleus of Friedrich Krupp AG , which had risen to become a heavy industry company and which today is part of ThyssenKrupp as Germany's largest steel and armaments company. Founded in 1811 by Friedrich Krupp , the cast steel factory took up an area of ​​up to five square kilometers in 1912. The main source of income was the armaments industry, which earned the factory the nickname “ armory of the German Empire” during the Nazi era . After severe destruction in the Second World War , the remains of the factory were dismantled and taken abroad as a reparation payment . Since then, large parts of the former factory area had been fallow. The new Thyssenkrupp headquarters only moved here in 2009 as part of the Krupp-Gürtel urban development project .

First industrial settlements

Already in the 18th century there were mining activities on the site of today's Krupp belt, from which the first underground mining mine in Essen later developed with the United Sälzer & Neuack colliery .

Friedrich Krupp founded on November 20, 1811, using the time of Napoleon's continental blockade against Great Britain, with two partners a factory for the production of cast steel, which at that time was a difficult to obtain commodity. His partners, the brothers Georg Carl Gottfried and Wilhelm Georg Ludwig von Kechel, were retired army officers from the Duchy of Nassau and had experience with cast steel production since 1803. In 1812/13, Friedrich Krupp built a production facility in an expensive construction that included a smelting facility with the smelting furnaces and a hammer mill for further processing of the steel. Krupp's plan was to produce so-called English steel, the manufacturing process of which was guarded like a state secret in England. The first workshops were located on one of the properties from the grandmother's inheritance that Friedrich had bought from his brother Wilhelm, in Weberstrasse and, from 1812, on the fulling mill in what is now the Vogelheim district . He reached a technical turning point with the production of his own larger crucibles in order to replace the smaller, expensive crucibles that he obtained from Passau. By autumn 1814, 30,000 Reichstaler flowed into the company, but only 1,422 Reichstaler remained as proceeds. In November 1814, Krupp separated from the von Kechel brothers. Although Friedrich Krupp thought of giving up the business, a new partner was soon found, the mechanic Friedrich Nicolai, who had registered a patent for the production of cast steel in Prussia and with whom Friedrich Krupp concluded a contract in July 1815. After an investigation ordered by Friedrich Krupp in 1816, the steel produced under Nicolai's direction turned out to be unusable. For the first time in the same year, Krupp succeeded in producing small quantities of cast steel using its own methods. In 1817 production was expanded to include tanner tools, drills, turning tools , coin dies and coin rollers. Since the mostly satisfied Prussian Mint in Düsseldorf was now one of his customers, Krupp gained some reputation. Small quantities of cast steel could also be sold to external customers. The first cast steel rollers manufactured by Krupp for minting coins were hardly successful, however, as the authorities had 9 out of 14 copies rejected for quality reasons. From 1818 onwards, thanks to the use of Osemunde iron from the former county of Mark in the Sauerland, cast steel of a more uniform, although still variable, quality could be produced. The crucibles that Krupp made from local alumina and graphite happened to have a high silicon content. This had a positive effect on the metallurgical properties of the steel.

Since the factory on the Berne was in a poor location, Krupp expanded production in 1818 and laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Krupp cast steel factory west of the city of Essen in an area that had been family-owned since the 17th century. The new system went into operation on October 18, 1819 , on Mühlheimer Chaussee in front of Limbecker Tor , today Altendorfer Strasse. It was designed for 60 melting furnaces, but only 8 were available in the first construction stage. It was also during this time that Krupp had an overseer's house built there, which he moved into after the sale of his town house and which was later stylized as the Krupp parent company by his son Alfred Krupp . This new location near the Neuack colliery , from which Krupp obtained coal, was an advantage. Nevertheless, the old forge on the Berne still had to be maintained, as there was no watercourse at the new location.

In 1820 Krupp primarily supplied cutting tools, saws and blades. In 1823 he succeeded in producing high-quality crucible steel , even if the results were still unclear. Important metallurgical relationships were not yet known. Different ores were also used due to financial bottlenecks, but this led to undesirable differences in quality. Most recently, Friedrich Krupp had invested his entire legacy and also taken out large loans. His mother, as a major creditor, had taken financial control.

When Friedrich Krupp died at the age of 39 on October 8, 1826, his wife Therese Krupp (née Wilhelmi, 1790–1850) and their only 14-year-old son Alfred took over the factory that was facing economic ruin, which at that time was less than had ten employees. From 1826 to 1848 she was the owner of the Krupp company. Together with her sister-in-law Helene von Müller, née Krupp, Therese Krupp ensured the continued existence of the company through prudent management.

Expansion through Alfred Krupp

Krupp- Vignolschiene of the SBB , rolling mark : 88 VII (manufactured July 1988), type UIC 54E2

Alfred Krupp dropped out of school after his father's death in 1826 and joined the company, learning all the necessary activities in steel production, accounting and finally management. Around 1830 the demand for cast steel had increased enormously with the beginning of the railway industry . In addition, the establishment of the German Customs Association in 1834 promoted freight traffic in Germany and thus the customer base could be expanded. In 1836 60 workers were already employed. Cast steel rollers were produced. The first cast steel cannon was manufactured in 1847, but it was not yet successful. Alfred Krupp developed the pioneering seamless wheel tire for the railway in 1853 , so that at that time 1000 people were already working for Krupp. Three superimposed wheel tires became the company symbol. The result was a rapid expansion of the cast steel factories west of what was then the city of Essen. From 1860 onwards there was the production of weapons through successful cannon models, as well as improved methods for the mass production of steel. Around 1870 Krupp became the largest industrial company in Europe. In 1873 the factory area in the west of Essen was 360 hectares and has thus increased twenty-fold since 1861, so that it reached the size of a third of the entire city area. Nevertheless, in 1880, due to American competition, they lost the market for wheel tires there, after which they concentrated more on the armaments industry. In 1874 a main administration building was erected west of the parent company, which later served the training workshop built in 1958. Both were demolished in 2005 in favor of the ThyssenKrupp headquarters .

In addition, the first activities in Krupp housing began in 1861. This included the masters 'houses and the Westend workers' colony on the factory premises, as well as the Nordhof , Schederhof and Kronenberg colonies directly adjacent.

Further development under Friedrich Alfred Krupp

Machining workshop 1900

After Alfred's death in 1887, his son Friedrich Alfred Krupp inherited the company, which now has 20,000 employees. For the year 1889, Diedrich Gottschalk Baedeker gives the following figures for the Krupp plant: 44 kilometers of standard-gauge and 29 km of narrow-gauge works railroad, plus 14 tank locomotives for 540 wagons and 14 narrow-gauge locomotives for 450 wagons, 1,195 ovens, 286 steam boilers, 21 roller mills, 370 steam engines , 92 steam hammers, 361 cranes and 1724 machine tools. By the time Friedrich Alfred Krupp died in 1902, this number of employees rose to 45,000, many of whom worked at the Reinhausen ironworks , which was founded in 1897 . In his will, Friedrich Alfred Krupp ordered the conversion of the company into a stock corporation , whose shares were to be given to his oldest daughter Bertha . This change took place in 1903.

With the incorporation of neighboring towns in 1901, such as Altendorf , Frohnhausen , Holsterhausen and Rüttenscheid into the city of Essen, new living space could be developed for the rapidly increasing number of employees, on which Krupp had the Alfredshof , Baumhof , Friedrichshof and Altenhof settlements built. During this time, Essen grew into a big city in just a few years. The increase in population contributed to this as well as the associated heavy construction activity. The incorporation of Altendorf in particular brought Krupp tax advantages, because the large cast steel factory premises were now completely in Essen and no longer partly in Essen and partly in Altendorf. In 1904 there were a total of 51,000 employees. Between 1908 and 1910, the Krupp head office with a characteristic tower was built on Altendorfer Strasse (today there is a Porsche branch here). In 1910, a total of 67,000 people were working for the Krupp Group. For 1912 the area of ​​the factory premises in Essen was given as five square kilometers.

First World War and the aftermath

The armaments industry remained the largest and most important source of income. A shooting range for testing the guns was set up in the north of the factory premises. Shortly before the start of the First World War , 81,000 people worked for the entire group; in 1918 there were 200,000. After the war ended, arms production was prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles . Krupp was facing bankruptcy in the current economic crisis. From then on, attempts were made to balance the business with the manufacture of trucks, locomotives and excavators, among other things. On December 6, 1919, the first locomotive was delivered to the Krupp locomotive and wagon construction factory to the west of the cast steel factory . In the same year, the buildings for the production of civil trucks and buses were erected east of today's Husmannshofstrasse. The Fried. Krupp Motoren- und Kraftwagenfabriken (KRAWA for short) were at times one of the largest German truck manufacturers.

The number of employees fell to 25,000 in Essen in 1926, and it was around twice as many across the group. These were the consequences of the onset of modernization and extensive rationalization by the company management. There were closings of unprofitable areas and thus layoffs.

Location of the shooting on March 31, 1923 in front of the automobile hall

13 people died due to the occupation of the Ruhr on March 31, 1923, when Krupp workers at the automobile hall rebelled against a French commando attempting to confiscate the trucks produced here. When the French faced a large crowd of workers, they panicked and shot their way through. The burial followed a propaganda funeral procession to the southwest cemetery on April 10, 1923 . A memorial by Hugo Lederer , which has not survived, was erected in 1928 with a clear, political background and bore the inscription: Holy Saturday 1923. The work comrades who fell victim to French bullets in the factory.

Period of National Socialism and the Second World War

After the seizure of power in 1933, the arms industry was resumed, but ultimately did not reach the size of that of the First World War. The company manager Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was initially not on Adolf Hitler's side, because he belonged to the Ruhrlade , a secret interest group of the twelve most influential Ruhr industrialists, in order to keep Hitler out of power, among other things.

On his first visit in 1934, Hitler invited himself to a factory tour of the cast steel factory. He had an intensive conversation with the weapons expert from the Krupp company, Erich Müller. With the new weapons orders that followed, Krupp began to be in the black again.

To this end, the United Sälzer & Neuack colliery merged with the Amalie colliery to form the Sälzer-Amalie colliery under the umbrella of Friedrich Krupp AG . Both were on the factory premises.

In 1936 Hitler visited the factory a second time and was invited to Villa Hügel for the first time . On September 27, 1937, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini visited the so-called armory of the German Reich . Junior boss Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach took over the tour of Essen's cast steel factory, the forging press shop and the armor workshops . From 1938 he successfully managed the artillery design and sales department in the main administration building on the site of the cast steel factory. The order situation was much better in many areas, so that in 1938 120,000 people were working in the group again. The manufacture of civilian products such as trucks and locomotives was not abandoned, but many were redesigned for military use. After the Second World War , which began in 1939, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach no longer felt any criticism of the regime was appropriate, since it was now about Germany. From then on, the National Socialists exerted considerable influence on corporate policy. They took on board positions and intervened in the production organization. The Wehrmacht prescribed target figures for arms production. Among them was the Dora gun made in the cast steel factory , the largest ever built. There were repeated relocations of operations in order to avoid the increased bombing. For example, after a briefing at the headquarters on March 16, 1943, the fuse production was to be relocated to Auschwitz . It has not been proven whether Alfried Krupp knew about the conditions there and about the Auschwitz concentration camp at the time. In the end, production was not outsourced there, although two million Reichsmarks had already been approved for construction. Instead, detonator production was carried out in Wüstegiersdorf in what was then Silesia with 250 women prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp after being relocated from Essen. In December 1944, the Krupp company employed 224 prisoners of war, 1029 foreign forced laborers, and 200 Hungarian and Croatian female concentration camp prisoners here.

During the Nazi era, the truck works were expanded to include the manufacture of military vehicles.

In 1943, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach took over the company from his father Gustav with the help of Lex Krupp and now ran the former corporation as a partnership .

In 1944, more and more skilled workers were called up for military service. Prisoners of war and foreign civilian workers were assigned as workers by the SS , although Krupp resisted, as these unskilled workers were hardly usable. They hardly got what food the SS had given them. Krupp tried to counteract this, but was officially not allowed to. During the bombing, bunkers were available to the employees on the factory premises, but not to the forced laborers. Soon these forces were no longer available either, so that Krupp was increasingly looking for prisoners from concentration camps . On the requirement of 2,000 male concentration camp prisoners Krupp was 520 young Jewish women to forced labor allocated in the sub-camp Humboldt Street in the district Fulerum were housed, one from the Buchenwald concentration camp managed prison camp. The company management had selected these forced laborers themselves in the Gelsenberg camp in Gelsenkirchen so that they could do heavy work in the rolling mill II and in the electrode workshop of the cast steel factory in Helenenstrasse.

War destruction and dismantling

During the Second World War, around a third of the 1.5 square kilometer built-up factory premises, mainly facilities in the outer area, were completely destroyed, another third partially. In order to avert and deceive Allied air raids, a mock-up of the cast steel factory was created on the Rottberg near Velbert from 1941 , the so-called Krupp night glow system . Initially, it attracted a few attacks, but lost its effectiveness from 1943 onwards as the aviators were better able to orient themselves, including the introduction of radar . During the first attack on the actual cast steel factory in March 1943, the Allies dropped 30,000 bombs, which also bombed surrounding housing estates and thus civilians. In total, the Krupp plant was attacked 55 times from the air.

After the war, the central and largely preserved factories were taken abroad after being dismantled by the Allies as a reparation payment , which resulted in more factories being dismantled than had been destroyed by the bombing war. The military government had laid down the dismantling plans on November 30, 1948, so that by the end of 1950 two thirds of the Essen cast steel factory had been destroyed. 73 buildings, more than 60 percent of which were destroyed, and 22 buildings formerly used for the arms industry were demolished. Another 127 buildings were released for peace production. These included the halls of the locomotive and wagon construction factory , for which a work license for the repair of locomotives was granted.

The production of trucks was resumed in 1946. However, the production facilities were relocated to Kulmbach , Bamberg and Nuremberg until 1951 and were operated under the name Südwerke until 1954 .

Post-war until today

Former entrance to the cast steel factory today, on the left Colosseum Theater, on the right Press and Hammerwerk Ost , in front between the works railway bridge
Entrance to the cast steel factory around 1901, on the left the 8th mechanical workshop (today Colosseum Theater ) with the works railway bridge from 1872, the central building no longer stands, in front a branch of the consumer establishment
Former bullet turning shop

After his release from Allied custody, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach took over the management of the company again in March 1953 and appointed Berthold Beitz as his general representative. The company structure has now changed from a family company to an international conglomerate.

Factory premises no longer required by Krupp were sold. The Fried. Krupp engine and motor vehicle factories continued to manufacture civilian products until 1969 and the Krupp locomotive and wagon construction factory until 1997. On the much larger, wider area of ​​the former factories, fifty new companies settled by 1958, which created around 9,000 new jobs. Some of these companies come from lost eastern German territories and the Soviet occupation zone. Nevertheless, from the end of the war until the construction of the new Krupp belt from 2007, most of the area of ​​the former cast steel factories lay fallow. A few buildings were later given a new use, such as the former 8th mechanical workshop, which was continued to be used by AEG Kanis and has now been a listed building since 1996 and houses the Colosseum Theater . To the west behind it is the only remaining building that already existed during Alfred Krupp's lifetime, the bullet turning shop from 1873, today the seat of the Center for Turkish Studies. Opposite is the parking garage of a Swedish furniture company , also listed, in the now open hall of the press and hammer plant . In the 1960s, the Krupp training workshop with eight training halls was built near the headquarters, which were demolished in the 1990s.

The Sälzer-Amalie colliery was closed in 1966. In the area of ​​the Huyssen / Schmits mine of the formerly independent United Sälzer & Neuack colliery, the Essen tax office was opened in the Krupp belt on June 14, 2004.

In 2006 the decision was made to relocate the new corporate headquarters of the company Krupp, ThyssenKrupp AG, which has meanwhile been combined with Thyssen, from Düsseldorf to Essen and to build it on the old site of the former cast steel factory. In 2010 the ThyssenKrupp headquarters started operations.


  • Marion Heistermann: Dismantling and Reconstruction - Industrial Policy Developments in the “Kruppstadt” Essen after the Second World War (1945–1956). Klartext Verlag, Essen 2004, ISBN 978-3-89861-275-3 .
  • Detlef Hopp (Ed.): Industry. Archeology. Eat. Industrial archeology in Essen . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8375-0428-6

Web links

Commons : Krupp-Gussstahlfabrik  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j Harold James: Krupp - German legend and global company ; Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-62414-8 .
  2. Beyer, Burkhard, short summary
  3. Arno Widmann: In the beginning there was bankruptcy. In: Frankfurter Rundschau , November 20, 2011 ( Memento from January 29, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  4. That was the year 1958; In: Borbecker Nachrichten annual review , New Year 1959
  5. Diedrich Baedeker: Alfred Krupp and the development of the cast steel factory in Essen. Baedeker, Essen 1889. 2nd edition 1912
  6. a b Frank Stenglein and Rüdiger Hagenbucher: New streets are named after legendary Krupp trucks; In: Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of December 27, 2018
  7. ^ Krupp: German legend and global company by Harold James, p. 225
  8. Werner Abelshauser : Armaments smiths of the nation? The Krupp concern in the Third Reich and in the post-war period 1933 to 1951. In: Lothar Gall (Hrsg.): Krupp in the 20th century. The history of the company from the First World War to the establishment of the foundation. Siedler, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-88680-742-8 , pp. 424, 439
  9. History: Numbers - Data - Facts. Essen tax office, accessed on February 16, 2011 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 27 ′ 36 ″  N , 6 ° 59 ′ 20 ″  E