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Wilhelm Keppler as a defendant in the Ministries trial.
December 14, 1882|
Heidelberg, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
|Died||June 13, 1960
Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
|Rank||Obergruppenführer, SS (Lieutenant General)|
Wilhelm Karl Keppler (14 December 1882 – 13 June 1960) was a German businessman and one of Adolf Hitler's early financial backers. Introduced to Hitler by Heinrich Himmler, Keppler helped to finance the Nazi Party and later served as one of Hitler's economic advisors.
Keppler attended Karlsruhe Technical School from 1901 to 1905. He then served in the army between 1903 and 1904 before attending Königliche Technische Hochschule zu Danzig from 1905 to 1910, where he earned his degree in engineering. He was commissioned by the army as a reserve second lieutenant in 1910. Keppler became an engineer in the chemical industry starting in 1911. He fought in the First World War.
Keppler was an engineer and chemical manufacturer at the time that he joined the NSDAP in February 1927 as member #62,424. He co-owned Odin Works, a small photographic gelatin factory, and was chairman of the I. G. Farben subsidiary Braunkohle-Benzin AG. Hitler appointed him as the Nazi Party's economics adviser in December 1931. He was elected to the Reichstag on 5 March 1933, representing Baden, a position which he held to 1945. In July 1933 he was appointed Reich Commissioner for Economic Affairs (German: Kommissar für Wirtschaftsfragen). This position granted Keppler charge of all party organizations involved with economic policy. After 1934, Keppler faced the problem of securing and utilizing raw materials.
To strengthen the Nazi Party's ties with business and industry, Keppler founded the Circle of Friends of the Economy (Freundeskreis der Wirtschaft, which is sometimes referred to as the "Keppler Circle").
Considered weak and slow, Keppler's role was supplanted in 1936 by the Four Year Plan. He served as a personal adviser to Hermann Göring on the Four Year Plan. He was given a new title of "general expert of German raw and industrial materials".
He went to Austria in 1938 to prepare the ground for Anschluss. He served as Secretary at the German Embassy in Vienna in 1938, Reich Commissioner in Austria from March to June 1938, then Reich Commissioner in Slovakia in 1939, and finally Reich Commissioner in Danzig in August 1939. Keppler became Secretary of State with special duties in the Foreign Office during World War II, during which he administered SS confiscated industries in Poland and Russia. On 30 January 1942 he became an honorary Obergruppenführer (Lieutenant General) of the SS.