Krupp trial

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Prosecutor Telford Taylor (standing, center) opens the case against the defendants

The United States of America vs. Alfried Krupp, et al., commonly known as the Krupp trial, 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. It concerned the forced labor enterprises of the Krupp concern and other crimes committed by the concern.

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. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT). The Krupp Trial was the third of three trials of German industrialists; the other two were the Flick Trial and the IG Farben Trial.

The case[edit]

In the Krupp Trial, twelve former directors of the Krupp Group were accused of having enabled the armament of the German military forces and thus having actively participated in the Nazis' preparations for an aggressive war, and also for having used slave laborers in their companies. The main defendant was Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, CEO of the Krupp Holding since 1943 and son of Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach who had been a defendant in the main Trial of the Major War Criminals before the IMT (where he was considered medically unfit for trial).

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal III-A, were Hu C. Anderson (presiding judge), president of the court of appeals of Tennessee, Edward J. Daly from Connecticut, and William J. Wilkins from Seattle, Washington. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; the Chief Trial Counsel was H. Russell Thayer, and Benjamin B. Ferencz participated as a Special Counsel. The indictment was presented on November 17, 1947; the trial lasted from December 8, 1947 until July 31, 1948. One defendant (Pfirsch) was acquitted, the others received prison sentences between three and twelve years, and the main defendant Alfried Krupp was ordered to sell all his possessions.

Defendants at the Krupp Trial, from left; Alfried Krupp, Ewald Löser, Eduard Houdremont, Erich Müller, Friedrich Janssen, Karl Pfirsch, and Karl Eberhardt

The main defendant Alfried Krupp always denied any guilt. In 1947, he stated:

The economy needed a steady or growing development. Because of the rivalries between the many political parties in Germany and the general disorder there was no opportunity for prosperity. ... We thought that Hitler would give us such a healthy environment. Indeed he did do that. ... We Krupps never cared much about [political] ideas. We only wanted a system that worked well and allowed us to work unhindered. Politics is not our business.

— Alfried Krupp, in Golo Mann's manuscript first published in (Friz 1988).

Indeed, the Krupp holding did flourish under the Nazi regime. According to conservative estimates, the Krupp enterprises used nearly 100,000 persons in the slave labour programme, about 23,000 of which were prisoners of war.


  1. Crimes against peace by participating in the planning and waging of wars of aggression and wars in violation of international treaties;
  2. Crimes against humanity by participating in the plundering, devastation, and exploitation of occupied countries;
  3. Crimes against humanity by participating in the murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and use for slave labor of civilians who came under German control, German nationals, and prisoners of war;
  4. Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against peace.

All defendants were charged under counts 1, 3, and 4; count 2 excluded the defendants Lehmann and Kupke. Counts 1 and 4 were soon dropped due to lack of evidence.


Name Function Sentence
Alfried Krupp owner and CEO 12 years plus forfeiture of property; pardoned January 31, 1951 by John J. McCloy and property restored to him. Died July 30, 1967.
Ewald Löser former CFO 7 years; served full sentence and released 1955. Died December 23, 1970.
Eduard Houdremont [de] director, head of steel works 10 years; On January 31, 1951, his sentence was reduced by the US High Commissioner John Jay McCloy to the penalty time served at that time. On February 4, 1951 was finally released. Died June 10, 1958.
Erich Müller [de] director, head of arms fabrication 12 years; however prematurely 1952 again released from the war criminal prison Landsberg. Died April 15, 1963.
Friedrich Wilhelm Janssen CFO, successor to Löser 10 years; On December 31, 1951, the High Commissioner of the United States in the Federal Republic of Germany John Jay McCloy A revision of the sentence to the already served penalty period, so that he was already released on February 4, 1952 out of custody. In 1953, he returned to Friedrich Krupp AG and became General plenipotentiary of the Friedrich Krupp works in Essen next to Berthold Beitz. 1955 he retired. During this two-year collaboration between Beitz and Janssen, Janssen became his paternal advisor, who introduced him to the group's individual works. Died October 9, 1956.
Karl Heinrich Pfirsch former head of sales department found not guilty: acquitted and released. Died 1967.
Max Otto Ihn Personnel and intelligence, deputy to Löser and Janssen 9 years; At the beginning of February 1951 he was discharged from the war criminal prison in Landsberg. He then worked for Krupp until 1953 and then for the Federal Association of German Employers ' associations. From January 1, 1954 to March 31, 1957, he was general manager of the Employers ' association of Gesamtmetall. Died 1983.
Karl Adolf Ferdinand Eberhardt head of sales, successor of Pfirsch 9 years; released February 1951.
Heinrich Leo Korschan deputy head of steel plants 6 years; At the beginning of February 1951, Korschan was released from the war criminal prison in Landsberg. He then lived again in Essen-Bredeney. Died January 8, 1973.
Friedrich von Bülow counterintelligence, public relations, and head of the plant police (Werkschutz) 12 years; On January 31, 1951 was pardoned and released from custody in the war crimes prison in Landsberg. Died January 17, 1984.
Werner Wilhelm Heinrich Lehmann "labor procurement", deputy to Ihn 6 years; released February 1951.
Hans Albert Gustav Kupke head of workers' camps 2 years and 10 months; since the sentence was served as a serving in custody, Kupke was released from custody after the end of the trial.

All eleven defendants found guilty were convicted on the forced labor charge (count 3), and of the ten charged on count 2 (economic spoliation), six were convicted. On January 31, 1951, two and a half years after the sentences, ten (all except Löser) were released from prison. Since no buyer for the Krupp Holding had been found, Alfried Krupp resumed control of the firm in 1953.

See also[edit]


  • Trial proceedings (partial).
  • Description of the trial from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • Transcript of a German radio broadcast from 1999 on the Krupp trial and the IG Farben Trial (in German, with English quotations).
  • Friz, D. M. (1988). Alfried Krupp und Berthold Beitz—der Erbe und sein Statthalter (in German). Zürich: Orell-Füssli. ISBN 3-280-01852-8.