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Career and marriage
In 1867 Thyssen and several members of his family founded the iron works "Thyssen-Foussol & Co" in Duisburg. When this company was dissolved in 1870, he used the new capital to establish with his father the "Walzwerk Thyssen & Co" that would become the base of an industrial empire in the industrialized Mülheim an der Ruhr, where the high of iron and steel prizes contributed to the making of his fortune. Initially he managed different companies separately in a decentralized fashion, but eventually he united them through a holding company. The largest company of his was the coal mining company "Gewerkschaft Deutscher Kaiser" in Hamborn (now part of Duisburg) that he had acquired in 1891.
On 3 December 1872 in Mülheim an der Ruhr he married Hedwig Pelzer (1854–1940), daughter of Johann-Heinrich Pelzer and wife Hedwig Troost. They divorced in 1885. The four children during the marriage were Fritz, August, Heinrich and Hedwig. To avoid the possibility that his divorce would lead to a partitioning of his industrial empire, Thyssen transferred the property to his children, but retained the management rights for himself during his lifetime.
The Thyssen conglomerate became the nucleus of Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG, the biggest mining and steel cartel in the world, prior to World War II. Thyssen was refounded in 1953 and joined with KruppHoesch to become ThyssenKrupp AG in 1997.
Thyssen's firm was a vertically integrated company, controlling all aspects of the steelmaking process. He owned his own fleet of ships, a network of docks and a railroad. Although he was one of the richest men in Germany, to the day he died his ethos was "If I rest, I rust." He lived a simple life; he ran his empire from a dingy office in Mülheim, drove an old car, wore off-the-peg suits, and was known to drink and eat with his workers. He was also an ardent republican.
His children were:
- Friedrich "Fritz" Thyssen (1873–1951), industrialist
- August Thyssen (Mülheim an der Ruhr, 25 September 1874 – Munich, 13 June 1943), never married and had no children
- Heinrich Freiherr Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva (1875–1947), industrialist and art collector
- Hedwig Thyssen (Mülheim an der Ruhr, 19 December 1878 – Kreuzlingen, Thurgau, 31 July 1950), married firstly in Mülheim an der Ruhr on 28 August 1899 and divorced in 1908 Ferdinand Freiherr von Neufforge (Aachen, 30 August 1869 – Davos, 7 September 1942), married secondly in London, 9 February 1908 Maximilian (Max) Freiherr von Berg (Steierdorf, Krassó-Szörény vm, 1 May 1859 – Neu-Friedenheim, 25 March 1924); she had a natural son, for he used his mother's last name:
- Joseph Thyssen
- Manfred Rasch, Gerald D. Feldman (Hrsg.): August Thyssen und Hugo Stinnes. Ein Briefwechsel 1898-1922, München (C.H.Beck) 2003 - ISBN 3-406-49637-7
- Official site of ThyssenKrupp Company
- Official biography by ThyssenKrupp
- Ancestors of Baroness Francesca Anne Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kaszon[permanent dead link]
- Ancestors of Archduchess Eleonore of Austria[permanent dead link]
- Ancestors of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria[permanent dead link]
- Ancestors of Archduchess Gloria of Austria[permanent dead link]
- Marek, Miroslav. "Thyssen-Bornemissza de Kászon et Impérfalva Family". Genealogy.EU.