Alfred Krupp (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: During the period of Germany’s unification into one of the most powerful nations in Europe, Krupp expanded his family’s steelmaking concern into one of the most powerful industrial enterprises of the nineteenth century.
The son of Friedrich Krupp, the founder of the family steelmaking business, Alfred Krupp was born in the Ruhr River valley town of Essen only five months after Friedrich had founded the firm in 1812. When Alfred was fourteen, his father died and Alfred, along with his widowed mother, Therese, was left in charge of the business. Alfred had already been removed from school, largely because of his father’s inability to make enough money to pay for his eldest son’s education. As Krupp was to say in later life, his education came at an anvil, not a school desk.
As befitting a boy who had the responsibility of both a family and factory thrust upon him, Krupp became consumed with work. His family and friends at the time described him as tall, slim, and delicate-looking, but at the same time stoic and resolute. When Krupp inherited the family concern, the factory was almost bankrupt. Only seven men remained on the payroll, and wages had not been paid for several weeks. Moreover, few orders for steel products—the firm specialized in cutlery—were placed during the next several years. As Krupp later acknowledged, his mother held the family together during those...
(The entire section is 1490 words.)
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