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The Krupp family (pronunciation), a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1999 it merged with Thyssen AG to form ThyssenKrupp AG, a large industrial conglomerate.



Friedrich Krupp (1787–1826) launched the family's metal-based activities, building a pioneering steel foundry in Essen in 1810. His son Alfred (1812–87), known as "the Cannon King" or as "Alfred the Great", invested heavily in new technology to become a significant manufacturer of steel rollers (used to make eating utensils) and railway tyres. He also invested in fluidized hotbed technologies (notably the Bessemer process) and acquired many mines in Germany and France. Unusually for the era, he provided social services for his workers, including subsidized housing and health and retirement benefits.

The company began to make steel cannons in the 1840s—especially for the Russian, Turkish, and Prussian armies. Low non-military demand and government subsidies meant that the company specialized more and more in weapons: by the late 1880s the manufacture of armaments represented around 50% of Krupp's total output. When Alfred started with the firm, it had five employees. At his death twenty thousand people worked for Krupp—making it the world's largest industrial company and the largest private company in the German empire.

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