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The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968 Hardcover – November 30, 1968

4.6 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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** 'A colorful, extremely readable account. To be the biographer of Krupp is to write the history of modern Germany.' - NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion, Volumes 1 and 2, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Death of the President, and assorted works of journalism.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 942 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 30, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316544906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316544900
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This has got to be one of the greatest history books that I have ever read, and I have read a lot of them. While the story is centered around the development of the Steel industry in the Ruhr Gebiet in Germany, it is also about German history - from its beginnings with the "forest mythology" of the Roman era - all the way up to the 1960s. Unusual for historians, Manchester also has a wonderful grasp of character, which the Krupp family supplied in many, many bizarre variations over several generations. The result is a read of the greatest quality.
Most important, there is the empire of Krupp, as built up by Alfred. At 14, he inherited a steel company that had dwindled under his father's inept management to 5 employees. By sheer grit and a genius for profitable technical innovation, he built it into a vast conglomerate so powerful that it could literally make empires fall. In particular, the company specialised in the development of weapons, from breach-loading cannons to early prototypes for tanks. He even created a cannon (the Big Bertha for his wife), braced along the side of an entire mountain, that could hurl projectiles deep into France from German soil. The details are fascinating, with graceful descriptions that translate their engineering details for laymen.
Alfred controlled everything, from scribbling rules to govern the work force with a pencil nub to relationships with the various ministers of war throughout Europe. There are hilarious scenes where he dines once a year with Bismarck, a great personal friend, and their hysterical laughter at the latter's remark about Napoleon III of France ("Eigentlich ist er dumm").
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Format: Paperback
This work is the cardinal profile of the rise of the `military-industrial complex' in 19-20C Germany. The Krupp legacy (family and firm) is skillfully traced in a lucid, comprehensive account equal to the finest modern history.

Without Krupp, Germany would never have been unified in 1871. Without war, Krupp would never have grown into the wealthiest concern in the world. Each served the other. And tens of millions died.

What price did Krupp pay for key instrumentality in aggressive war? Not much. Gustav (key Nazi donor, appointed `Leader of Industry' in 1933) was judged too infirm for trial in 1945. Alfried (who joined the SS in 1931) spent 3 years in jail (released to much applause in 1951). The firm self destructed 1967-8 (Arndt II, playboy degenerate, wasn't up to the task of renewing the symbiotic relationship).

Krupp armed regimes that killed civilians without remorse. It used slave labor to produce weapons, and operated camps that (given the regimen) supported extermination. All without apology.

Perhaps the most cynical salute to profit is Krupp's ultimate negotiation of a £40,000 settlement in 1926 for patent royalties from Vickers for 640,000 shells the Brits fired at Germans in WW1 (Gustav insisted 4,160,000 shells were fired -- killing 2,080,000 German soldiers -- and £260,000 was due). Thus Krupp, the preeminent German weapons firm, was paid for the death of German soldiers in a lost war.

Though I read it thirty years ago, this book remains important and memorable. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The Arms of Krupp is a brilliantly written book detailing the rise and fall of one of the most powerful families in history. The family of Krupp was the armorer of the first, second and third German Reichs. The origins of the family's wealth begin with Arndt Krupp surviving the Black Plague and purchasing land that just happened to contain the richest coal deposits in Europe. The firm or die Firma was built on 3 basic principles, innovation (many new alloys, metals, methods and weapons are attributable to the Krupp firm), political leverage, and absolute suzerainty of a single head of the family. Indeed the head of the Krupp family ruled a state with in a state.

Unlike most industrial families, the Krupps appear to understand very early on that the health and welfare of the workers is a necessity of the survival and prosperity of die Firma itself. That fact makes Krupp's treatment of the slave labor (Jewish and Eastern "stucke") even more appalling. Indeed, Krupp violated even the pathetic SS prisoner treatment rules, formed an internal Gestapo, and tortured workers accused of ridiculous crimes (stealing food) considering the treatment they were given.

William Manchester spends a great deal of time on the Holocaust and Krupp's involvement in it. Indeed, Krupp raided captured factories across Europe and enslaved tens of thousands. In my opinion, this period represents the heights of wealth and the depths of morality for the firm and the family. Krupp sold his Reich marks to get real capital and at the same time employed the Nazi slave labor program to maintain production. Wealth generated on the backs of the conquered territories and enslaved peoples.

But the single most damning legacy of the Krupp dynasty is Bushmannhof ?
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