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The Krupp family (see pronunciation) is a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, noted for its production of steel, artillery, ammunition and other armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG (Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp after acquiring Hoesch AG in 1991 and lasting until 1999), was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, and was the premier weapons manufacturer for Germany in both world wars. Starting from the Thirty Years' War until the end of the Second World War, it produced battleships, U-boats, tanks, howitzers, guns, utilities, and hundreds of other commodities.
|Friedrich Krupp AG (1968–1991)
|1587; 437 years ago (1587) in Essen, Germany
|Merged with Thyssen AG
|Steel, stainless products, automotive technologies, plant technologies, elevator systems, marine systems, shipbuilding, firearms
|Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation
The dynasty began in 1587 when trader Arndt Krupp moved to Essen and joined the merchants' guild. He bought and sold real estate, and became one of the city's richest men. His descendants produced small guns during the Thirty Years' War and eventually acquired fulling mills, coal mines and an iron forge. During the Napoleonic Wars, Friedrich Krupp founded the Gusstahlfabrik (cast steel works) and started smelted steel production in 1816. This led to the company becoming a major industrial power and laid the foundation for the steel empire that would come to dominate the world for nearly a century under his son Alfred. Krupp became the arms manufacturer for the Kingdom of Prussia in 1859, and later the German Empire.
The company produced steel used to build railroads in the United States and to cap the Chrysler Building. During the time of the Third Reich, the Krupp company supported the Nazi regime and used slave labour, which was used by the Nazi Party to help carry out the Holocaust, with Krupp reaping the economic benefit. Krupp used almost 100,000 slave labourers, housed in poor conditions and many worked to death. The company had a workshop near the Auschwitz concentration camp. Alfried Krupp was convicted as a criminal against humanity for the employment of the prisoners of war, foreign civilians and concentration camp inmates under inhumane conditions in work connected with the conduct of war. He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment, but served just three and was pardoned (but not acquitted) by John J. McCloy.
Part of this pardoning meant that all of Krupp's holdings were restored. Again, the company rose to become one of the wealthiest companies in Europe. However, this growth did not last indefinitely. In 1967, an economic recession resulted in significant financial loss for the company. In 1999, it merged with Thyssen AG to form the industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG.
Controversy has not eluded the Krupp company. Being a major weapons supplier to multiple sides throughout various conflicts, the Krupps were sometimes blamed for the wars themselves or the degree of carnage that ensued.
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