This is something that always amazed me, the leniency given to the German captains of industry. Even when the initial sentences were high(but not high enough) they were often pardoned by representatives of the allied Governments.
After the war, the Allied Military Government investigated Krupp’s employment of slave laborers. He was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and the forfeiture of all property. However, after three years, John J. McCloy, the American High Commissioner for Germany arranged for Krupp to be pardoned and the forfeiture of his property was reversed.
The Krupp Trial (or officially, The United States of America vs. Alfried Krupp, et al.) was the tenth of twelve trials for war crimes that U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone at Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II.
These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice.
Alfried Krupp, the son of Gustav Krupp, was born in Essen, Germany, on 13th August, 1907. After studying engineering in Munich and Berlin he joined his father’s company, Friedrich Krupp AG, that by the First World War was Germany’s largest armaments company.
Krupp and his father were initially hostile to the Nazi Party. However, in 1930 they were persuaded by Hjalmar Schacht that Adolf Hitler would destroy the trade unions and the political left in Germany. Schacht also pointed out that a Hitler government would considerably increase expenditure on armaments. In 1933 Krupp joined the Schutzstaffel (SS).
As a result of the terms of the Versailles Treaty the Krupp family had been forced to become producers of agricultural machinery after the First World War. However, in 1933, Krupp factories began producing tanks in what was officially part of the ‘Agricultural Tractor Scheme’.
They also built submarines in the Netherlands and new weapons were developed and tested in Sweden.
During World War II, the company’s profits increased and it gained control of factories in German-occupied Europe. Alfried became more active in controlling the company as his father’s health declined. He became de facto head of the firm in 1941 when Gustav Krupp suffered a stroke. Under Alfried, the company used slave labor supplied by the Nazi regime and thereby also became involved in the Holocaust, assigning Jewish prisoners from concentration camps to work in many of its factories. Even when the military suggested that security reasons dictated that work should be performed by free German workers, Alfried insisted on using slaves.
He officially replaced his father as head of the family firm under the Lex Krupp (“Krupp Law” ), proclaimed by Adolf Hitler on 12 November 1943, which set aside the usual laws of inheritance and preserved the Krupp firm as a family business. Under this law, Alfried formally added the Krupp name to his own. He was also appointed Reichsminister für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion (“Minister for Armament and War Production”). The transfer of ownership was a gesture of gratitude by Hitler and was to be one of only a few major Nazi laws that survived the fall of the regime. During the war, he was responsible for the transfer of factories in the occupied territories to the German Reich. Alfried Krupp was awarded the War Merit Cross, Second and First Class.
Krupp worked closely with the SS, which controlled the concentration camps from which slave labor was obtained. In a letter dated 7 September 1943, he wrote: “As regards the cooperation of our technical office in Breslau, I can only say that between that office and Auschwitz the closest understanding exists and is guaranteed for the future.” According to one of his own employees, even when it was clear that the war was lost: “Krupp considered it a duty to make 520 Jewish girls, some of them little more than children, work under the most brutal conditions in the heart of the concern, in Essen”
By 1950 the United States was involved in fighting the Cold War. In June of that year, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. It was believed that German steel was needed for armaments for the Korean War and in October, John J. McCloy, the high commissioner in American occupied Germany, lifted the 11 million ton limitation on German steel production. McCloy also began pardoning German industrialists who had been convicted at Nuremberg. This included Fritz Ter Meer, the senior executive of I. G. Farben, the company that produced Zyklon B poison for the gas chambers.
He was also Hitler’s Commissioner of for Armament and War Production for the chemical industry during the war.
In January, 1951, John J. McCloy announced that Alfried Krupp and eight members of his board of directors who had been convicted with him, were to be released. His property, valued at around 45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him.
McCloy’s decision was very controversial. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to McCloy to ask: “Why are we freeing so many Nazis?”
Telford Taylor, who took part in the prosecution of the Nazi war criminals wrote: “Wittingly or not, Mr. McCloy has dealt a blow to the principles of international law and concepts of humanity for which we fought the war.”
Rumours began circulating that McCloy had been bribed by the Krupp’s American lawyer, Earl J. Carroll. According to one magazine: “The terms of Carroll’s employment were simple. He was to get Krupp out of prison and get his property restored. The fee was to be 5 per cent of everything he could recover. Carroll got Krupp out and his fortune returned, receiving for his five-year job a fee of, roughly, $25 million.”
McCloy rejected these claims and told the journalist, William Manchester: “There’s not a goddamn word of truth in the charge that Krupp’s release was inspired by the outbreak of the Korean War. No lawyer told me what to do, and it wasn’t political. It was a matter of my conscience.”
Within a few years of his release Krupp’s company was the 12th largest corporation in the world. Alfried Krupp died in Essen, West Germany, on 30th July, 1967.
After all the lives he destroyed, he died a wealthy man.
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