Design of the ‘Krupp Table’-relief
Massive bronze relief, weighting 100 kg with a diameter of 1,01 meter. This is the bronze design of the Nirosta table-top relief of the ‘Krupp Tisch’. This table was the embodiment of the close cooperation between the top German industrialists and Nazi politicians (and artists). It was given by Germany’s most powerful industrialist Gustav Krupp to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday on 3 May 1939.
The table is described in document NIK 12289 of the ‘Office of Chief of Counsel For War Crimes’ in the Nuremberg Archive. This document dated 4 November 1947 is a ‘Staff Evidence Analyses’. As ‘Persons, Firms or Organizations Involved’ are mentioned: ‘Alfried Krupp, Gustav Krupp and Goering (dead).’
Document NIK 12289
Depicted on the relief are -in a circle- 20 figures representing the German people of all classes and occupations. Visible at the background are landscapes and buildings related to the figures.
The 20 figures are divided into five groups:
– ‘The Army’: SA/SS Standard-bearer, pilot, soldier and sailer;
– ‘Industry and Craftsmanship’: blacksmith, miner, carpenter and mechanic;
– ‘Science and Art’: chemist, doctor, architect and sculptor;
– ‘Youth and Sports’: Hitler youth, Olympic torch bearer, League of German Girls and discus thrower;
– ‘Agriculture’: fisherman, labourer, female farmer with a child and farmer.
The Krupp Table is described in detail in the book ‘Die Bildende Künste im Dritten Reich’, 1966, by Joseph Wulf:
Document NIK 12289 – Besprechung eines Lichtbildes
This table was a gift from the ‘Kruppschen Gefolgschaft’ (the employees, managers and directors of the Krupp enterprise) to the Führer for his 50th birthday. It is a work by sculptor Erich Kuhn from Düsseldorf, who created it in cooperation with the Krupp factories. The relief on the tabletop is made from stainless steel produced by Krupp. The frame of the table is made of dark-coloured oak. Four Hoheitsabzeichen (eagles with swastikas), carved in wood, are attached at each leg. The removable plaque in the middle depicts the Feldherrnhalle and it is engraved with the text ‘Ich aber beschloss, Politiker zu werden’ (‘However, I decided to become a politician’), which is the last sentence of chapter 7 of Mein Kampf.
To allow the plaque to be lifted, there are two lion-shaped handles attached to it, which are copies of the lions in front of the Feldherrnhalle. A text on the back of the plaque reads, ‘Dem Führer zum Vollendung seines 50. Lebensjahres von der Kruppschen Gefolgschaft in Dankbarkeit für die Sicherung deutscher Arbeitsmöglichkeiten und in stolz auf die deutsche Arbeitsleistung’ (To the Führer for his 50th birthday from the Kruppschen Gefolgschaft to thank him for the creation of German jobs and for being proud of the German labour force): Krupp Bohlen Halbach.
When the plaque is lifted, the Führer’s birth home in Braunau is revealed.
From this centre point, a halo points to a circle of figures, who represent the German people of all classes and occupations. Focus of attention is the SA/ SS Standartenträger (standard bearer) from the city of Essen, and on the other side a soldier holding his regiment’s flag represents the army. The two other military representatives, a pilot and a sailor, are positioned across from each other. Between these figures there are four groups, each containing four other figures. The first group to the right of the Standartenträger, named ‘Industry and Craftsmanship’, is formed by a blacksmith, a miner, a carpenter and a mechanic. The group ‘Science and Art’, to the right of the pilot, includes a chemist, a doctor, an architect (with a model of the Honour Temple at the Könogsplatz in Munich) and a sculptor. To the right of the soldier follows the group ‘Youth and Sports’, consisting of a member of the Hitler youth association, an Olympic torch bearer, a member of the League of German Girls and a discus thrower. The group ‘Agriculture’, which is to the right of the sailor, shows a fisherman, a labourer, a female farmer with a child as an allegory of the family, and a farmer.
In the background landscapes related to the figures are depicted. Beginning at the Standartenträger and moving clockwise, these landscapes include the following: an industrial landscape, an airbase, buildings in Nürnberg (i.e. the Congress Hall, the Dürer House, the ‘Schönen Brunnen, the Church of St. Lorenz and the castle), Behind the soldier we see a highway overpass which turns into a natural landscape that flows from the high mountains into the lowlands. The background of the sailor shows a bay with a light tower and ship, followed by a landscape with the Rhine, which flows into the industrial landscape. An inner port, leading to an industrial plant, closes the circle. The text at the border of the tabletop is a quotation from the Führer in Mein Kampf: ‘The state as such might be just a form, but the essence is its content, the nation, the people. That’s why everything else is subordinated to the interests of the state.’
On the occasion of 20 April 1939.
On the 10th of May 1939, the table was presented to the Führer at the Obersalzberg by Dr. Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, in the presence of director Alfried von Bohlen und Halbach, Professor Dr. Görens (Krupp company), foreman Schröder and modeller Thewald from Foundry 4 (original German text is available).
Gustva Krupp’s present to Hitler; the relief by Erich Kuhn
‘Besides plunder and purchase, Hitler had one other means of acquiring art: gifts. An elaborate culture of gift giving developed among the Nazi elite, and Hitler received hundreds of artworks as tribute. These gifts came from a variety of sources, but foremost from subordinates within the Party… Gifts also stemmed from foreign leaders. … Finally, gifts were often presented by those who sought to curry favour with the dictator. The industrialist Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, for example, journeyed to Obersalzberg at 10 may 1939 to give Hitler an ornate table made from Krupp steel, carved by the sculptor Erich Kuhn with various Nazi insignia and laudatory inscriptions…’ (excerpt from Art as Politics in the Third Reich, by Jonathan Petropoulos, 1996).
Nürnberg, 3 May 1939.
Gustav and Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach visiting Hitler on 3 May 1939 in Hotel Deutscher Hof. Hitler is standing in front of the ‘Krupp Table’, a present from the Krupps. The table was handed over by Alfried and Gustav Krupp to Hitler, 7 days later at 10 mai 1939 at the Salzberg.
Left: Alfried Krupp shaking hands with Hitler.
Right: behind the table, Gustav Krupp. Right from him his son Alfried Krupp. Also present at the ceremony were Max Wünsche, Adjutant-Standartenführer and Nicolaus von Below, Adjutant-Oberst.
The removable cast iron plaque (26 x 18.5 cm, weight 4,1 kg) in the middle of the table (lost). On the pictures above the plaque is laying upsite down.
The plaque depicts the Feldherrnhalle and it is engraved with the text ‘Ich aber beschloss, Politiker zu werden’ (‘However, I decided to become a politician’), which is the last sentence of chapter 7 of Mein Kampf. To allow the plaque to be lifted, there are two lion-shaped handles attached to it, which are copies of the lions in front of the Feldherrnhalle. A text on the back of the plaque reads, ‘Dem Führer zum Vollendung seines 50. Lebensjahres von der Kruppschen Gefolgschaft in Dankbarkeit für die Sicherung deutscher Arbeitsmöglichkeiten und in stolz auf die deutsche Arbeitsleistung’ (To the Führer for his 50th birthday from the Kruppschen Gefolgschaft to thank him for the creation of German jobs and for being proud of the German labour force). Signed: Krupp Bohlen Halbach.
Friedrich Krupp AG, Essen
The Krupp family is a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen. They have become famous for their production of steel, artillery, ammunition, and other armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. It was important for weapons development and production in both world wars. One of the most powerful dynasties in European history, for 400 years Krupp flourished as the premier weapons manufacturer for Germany. From the Thirty Years’ War until the end of the Second World War, it produced everything from battleships, U-boats, tanks, howitzers, guns, utilities, and hundreds of other commodities.
Alfried Krupp officially replaced his father Gustav as head of the family firm under the Lex Krupp (‘Krupp Law’), proclaimed by Adolf Hitler on 12 November 1943, which set aside the usual laws of inheritance and preserved the Krupp firm as a family business. As a result of Krupp’s generous donations to Hitler’s election campaigns and his efforts to boost the arms industry, Alfried Krupp was, like his father, appointed ‘Wehrwirtschaftsführer’ (military economic leader) in 1937. His father even received the NSDAP Party Badge in Gold in 1940. Alfried was also appointed ‘Reichsminister für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion’ (‘Minister for Armament and War Production’).
The Table, the Nurember Trial and the Krupp-famliy. Described in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29 February 1948.
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: diameter 1,01 meter. Thick 1,5 cm|
|– signed||: signed ‘A. Kuhn’.|
|– type||: bronze|
|– weight||:100 kg|
Erich Kuhn, ‘Nirosta Relief’, 1939, located in an industrial complex of Friedrich Krupp AG, Essen. ‘Nirosta’, meaning ‘Nicht rostender Stahl’ (stainless steel), was a brand of Krupp. The inscription on the relief reads: ‘Hermann Göring: Der Vierjahresplan ist die sichtbare Verwirklichung der Gemeinschaftsarbeit des deutschen Volkes’. Depicted in the magazine ‘Baulgilde, Zeitschrift für die Deutschen Architekten’, 1939, book 35/36.
Hitler’s Four Year Plan
The inscription on the relief reads: ‘Hermann Göring: Der Vierjahresplan ist die sichtbare Verwirklichung der Gemeinschaftsarbeit des deutschen Volkes’. This text refers to the ‘Four Year Plan’, a series of economic measures initiated by Adolf Hitler, who put Hermann Göring in charge of it. The primary purpose of the Four Year Plan was to provide for the rearmament of Germany, and to prepare the country for self-sufficiency in four years, from 1936–1940. Aside from emphasizing the re-building of the nation’s military defences, the Four Year Plan sought to reduce unemployment; increase synthetic fibre production; undertake public works projects under the direction of Fritz Todt; increase automobile production; initiate numerous building and architectural projects; and further develop the Autobahn system. Göring constantly expanded the scope of the plan, until he became the de facto master of the German economy. The Four Year Plan technically expired in 1940, but the ‘Office of the Four Year Plan’, a cabinet-level agency, had grown to such a power base that the plan was extended indefinitely.
Hochtief AG, Essen
Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft is a German construction company based in Essen. Hochtief is Germany’s largest construction company and it operates globally, ranking as one of the largest general construction companies in the United States through its Turner subsidiary, and in Australia through a 53.43% shareholding in CIMIC Group. In 2010 it employed more than 70,000 employees across five corporate divisions. Turnover in 2010 was 23.23 EUR billion, with more than 80% coming from operations outside Germany. The company’s history dates back to 1874.
During World War II, it built the Führerbunker in Berlin, Hitler’s home in Berghof, the Wolfsschanze headquarters, several Nazi Party buildings (Reichsparteitagsbauten) in Nürnberg and large parts of the Westwall (under supervision of Organisation Todt).
More recent constructions include the Bosphorus Bridge (Turkey), King Abdulaziz International Airport (Saudi Arabia) and the Messeturm and Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt. In late 2010, Spanish construction company Grupo ACS, which already owned a 30 percent stake in Hochtief, launched a bid that would allow ACS to acquire an additional 20 percent stake in Hochtief. ACS increased its stake in Hochtief to 50.16 percent in June 2011, effectively taking over control of Hochtief.
Eric Kuhn, 1938, relief at the front door of the ‘Hochtiefhaus’, the head quarters of Hochtief AG, Essen. This relief was displayed at the World Exhibition in Paris, 1937, and awarded the ‘Grand Prix’ and the ‘Diplom d’honneur’. During WWII, 90% of the centre of the city of Essen was destroyed. The Hochtiefhaus (built in 1938) at Opernplatz 2, however, remained undamaged. The relief at the front door -made of cast steel- depicts the several stages in a building process.
Max Planck Institut für Eisenforschung, 1937, Düsseldorf
Erich Kuhn, ‘Nirosta Relief’ in the hall of the Max Planck Institut for Eisenfoschung in Düsseldorf. Monumental relief completely covering the wall of the foyer, created in 1937. The creation of relief is mentioned in ‘Baugilde, Zeitschrift der Fachgruppe Architekten in der Reichskammer der Bildenden Kunste’, 1937, book 31.
The Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH (MPIE) conducts basic research on metallic alloys and related materials to enable progress in these fields. The MPIE is financed by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science and the Steel Institute VDEh, the representative of the steel industry in Germany. In this unique public-private partnership, the institute pursues an approach in which material systems are studied regarding their highly complex underlying nanostructures on the one hand and their exposure to extreme environmental conditions on the other hand. Photo: ‘Copyright Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, 2016.’
Erich Kuhn, ‘Schlittschuhlauf’ (‘Ice skating’). ‘Nirosta Relief’ in the Ice Stadium of Düsseldorf. Date of creation likely 1935. The text on the back of this postcard reads: ‘Werkstoff: Nichtrostender Kruppstahl. Entwurf Erich Kuhn’ (‘Created in stainless Krupp-steel by Erich Kuhn’). The stadium, built in 1935, was the third one in Germany. It was completely destroyed during WWII.
Walzstahlhaus, seat of the German steel syndicate, Essen
The Walzstahlhaus, located at Kasernenstrasse 36 in Düsseldorf, was designed by the architects Heinrich Rosskotten and Karl Wach from 1938 to 1940. Erich Kuhn created the two sculptures of steelworkers and the five heads, each indicating the beginning of a new floor.
Walzstahlhaus (Walzstahl = rolled steel) housed the seat of the powerful syndicate of the German steel companies. Later in the war the syndicate changed into a public institute.
Erich Kuhn, ‘History of Swimming’, relief in the foyer of the Rheinbad (swimming pool) in Düsseldorf. The muschelkalk relief, measuring 12.50 x 2.98 meters and 8 cm thick, had been taken down at some point in the past. During the restoration of the swimming pool in October 2016, it was re-installed. The relief depicts the History of Swimming. It was probably created in 1966, the year that the swimming pool -at that time the largest in Europe- opened.
The text on the relief reads:
ANTIKE – MITTELALTER – JUNGBRUNNEN – BAROCK – BIEDERMEIER – NEUZEIT
Left: Erich Kuhn, ‘Kniende’ (‘Kneeling’), depicted in ‘Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration’, 1928.
Right: ‘Kniende’ (Kneeling Woman’). Displayed at the ‘Rheinische Kunstausstellung’, Danzig, 1941; depicted in the official art catalogue, and later in ‘Kunst im Deutschland, 1933–1945’, Mortimer G. Davidson, 1988.
Erich Kuhn, ‘Relief Kampf’ (‘Relief Fight’). Executed in granit. Displayed at the ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung Düsseldorf’, Kunsthalle 1942. Depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Left: Erich Kuhn, ‘Kopf Dr. Nommensen’ (Nommensen memorial in Taroetoeng, Sumatra)’. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle’, 1935/36.
Right: Erich Kuhn, ‘Kopf des hl. Paulus in der Matthäikirche in Düsseldorf’. Created in Jura marble. Height of the sculpture: 2.4 meters. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle’, 1935/36.
Left: Erich Kuhn, ‘Badende’ (‘Bathing’). Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle’, 1935/36.
Right: Erich Kuhn, ‘Abendliche Plastik ‘(‘Evening Sculpture’), marble. Depicted in ‘Die Völkische Kunst’, Juni, 1935.
Left: Erich Kuhn ‘Bali-Frauen’ (‘Women from Bali’). Depicted in ‘Junge Bildhauer’, Rembrandt Verlag, 1939.
Right: Erich Kuhn, ‘Liegende’ ( ‘Laying Woman’). Depicted in ‘Junge Bilddhauer’, Rembrandt Verlag, 1939.
Left: Erich Kuhn, ‘Ariadne’, created in marble. Displayed at the GDK 1943 room 34
Right: Erich Kuhn, ‘Ariadne’, depicted in ‘Duesseldorfer Künstler im Haus der Deutschen Kunst’, 1943.
Erich Kuhn, ‘Bildnis Profesor F.’, created in granit. Displayed at the ‘Herbstausstellung Düsseldorfer Künstler’, 1941, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf.
Erich Kuhn, ‘Wiederwachen’ (‘wake-up again’), war memorial revealed in 1930, in Benrath (Düsseldorf). Created in ‘Reinersreuther Granit’. On two sides there are reliefs symbolizing grief and hope. The Nazi’s qualified it in 1937 as ‘entartet’ and removed the memorial from the Schlosspark in Benrath. In 1925% the memorial was placed back in its original location.
Erich Kuhn, depicted in ‘Erich Kuhn’, 31 July 1965, a booklet published on the occasion of the 75th birthday of the sculptor.
Erich Kuhn, Düsseldorfer sculptor admired by top industrialists
Erich Kuhn (1890–1925%), German sculptor and graphic artist, was born into an old farming family from Westphalia. He attended the high school of the Graues Kloster from 1900 to 1908. He passed his examinations for the ‘Lehramt an Höheren Schulen’ in 1911, a painting study which he started in 1908 on the advice of Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth. For several months he was a pupil of Corinth. Then he went to the Prussian Art Academy, were he became Meisterschüler of professor Karl Koeppling, head of the section Engraving & Etching. Kuhn volunteered in 1914, and served as a field gunner throughout the war (Feldartillerist/Batterieführer) on the Western front. At the end of the war he was seriously wounded by gas. In 1918 he settled in Feldberg (Black Forest) and devoted himself from then on, as an autodidact, to sculpture. He created his first works in wood and in plaster, in 1922. For a study trip two years later, he went to Italy and visited Rome, Florence, Naples and Sicily. In Italy he created his first stone sculptures. In 1926 he moved to Düsseldorf; later he became the head of the ‘Übungsschulen’ of the Düsseldorf Art Academy. The German magazine ‘Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration’ depicted in 1928 several works by Kuhn, among them ‘Kniende’. Likely Erich Kuhn also created the door of the Ostpreussenturm of the famous Tannenberg-Denkmal. His war memorial ‘Wiederwachen’ (‘wake up again’), created in ‘Reinersreuther Granit’, was revealed in 1930, in Benrath (Düsseldorf). The Nazis qualified it in 1937 as ‘entartet’ and removed the memorial from the Schlosspark in Benrath (in 1925% the memorial was placed back in its original location).
In 1932 Kuhn toured the Dutch East Indies, visiting Timor, Bali, Java and Sumatra. In Sumatra (Taroetoeng), he created a monument in memory of the missionary Ingwer Ludwig Nommensen (in 1964 a new community centre of the Lutheran Church in Wuppertal was also named after Nommensen). In the Dutch East Indies, Kuhn was also commissioned to create busts of the emperor Mangkoenogro and his wife Ratoe Timor.
Back in Germany, Kuhn created a relief of stainless Krupp steel (‘Nirosta’) in the Ice Stadium in Düsseldorf (‘Schlittschuhlauf’) in 1935. In the same year, the art magazine ‘Die Kunst für alle’ depicted five works by Kuhn, including the bust of ‘Julia Menz’, ‘Badende’ (marble), ‘Paulus in der Matthäikirche in Düsseldorf’ (Jura marble, 2.40 cm high), ‘Kopf Dr. Nommensen’ (from the Nommensen memorial), and the relief ‘Schonheit’.
Erich Kuhn was represented at the ‘Olympic Art Exhibition’, 1936 in Berlin with his work ‘Schneeschuhlauf’ (‘Snowshoeing’), 1936.
In 1937 he created a Nirosta relief in the hall of the Max Planck Institut in Düsseldorf: the monumental relief of stainless Krupp-steel completely covers the wall of the foyer. In 1937/38 Eric Kuhn created the relief on the front door of the ‘Hochtiefhaus’ in Essen, the headquarters of Hochtief AG, Germany’ largest construction company. The relief on the front door -made of cast steel- depicts the several stages in a building process. This relief was displayed at the World Exhibition in Paris, in 1937, and awarded the ‘Grand Prix’ and the ‘Diplom d’honneur’. During WWII, 90% of the centre of the city of Essen was destroyed. The Hochtiefhaus (build in 1938), however, remained undamaged (previously, around 1927, Kuhn also designed the door of the Ostpreußenturm from the Tannenberg-memorial). In 1939 Erich Kuhn created a ‘Nirosta Relief’ located in an industrial complex of Friedrich Krupp AG, Essen. The inscription on the relief -Hermann Göring: Der Vierjahresplan ist die sichtbare Verwirklichung der Gemeinschaftsarbeit des deutschen Volkes- referred to Hitler’s ‘Four Year Plan’. Between 1938 and 1940, Erich Kuhn created two life-size sculptures of steel workers and five heads for the façade of the Walzstahlhaus (Walzstahl = rolled steel). The Walzstahlhaus, located at Kasernenstrasse 36 in Düsseldorf, housed the seat of the powerful syndicate of the German steel companies. In 1939 the industrialist Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach journeyed to Obersalzberg to give Hitler an ornate table made from Krupp steel, carved by Erich Kuhn with various Nazi insignia and laudatory inscriptions (described in Art as Politics in the Third Reich, Jonathan Petropoulos, 1996 as well as in ‘Die Bildende Künste im Dritten Reich’, Joseph Wulf, 1966). In 1940 Erich Kuhn took part in the exhibition ‘Herbstausstellung Düsseldorfer Künstler’, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, as well as in the exhibition ‘Rheinischer Künstler’ in Berlin, Schlos Schönhausen. In 1941 he participated in the exhibition ‘Rheinische Kunstausstellung Danzig’, and in 1942 in the ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung’, Kunsthalle/Düsseldorf, and in the ‘Winter Ausstellung Düsseldorfer Künstler’. A year later he participated in the exhibition ‘Esposizione d’Arte Contemporanea di Duesseldorf’, in Florence.
At the GDK Kuhn was represented with one work: ‘Ariadne’, created in marble. After Kuhn’s house in Düsseldorf was bombed in 1943, he and his family moved to Hinterzarten in the Black Forest. In 1949 Kuhn was appointed head of the section Sculpting & Ceramics of the Art School in Wiesbaden. In 1954 Erich Kuhn became a member of the ‘Darmstädter Sezession’, an art association founded in 1919 and based in Darmstadt. Six years later, the ‘Kunstverein Ludwigshafen am Rhein’ organised an exhibition ‘Holzplastiken von Erich Kuhn’ at the Stadtmuseum in Ludwigshafen.
From 1965 to 1966 (probably) Kuhn created the monumental relief ‘History of Swimming’ for the foyer of the Rheinbad, Düsseldorf, at that time the largest swimming pool in Europe. This muschelkalk relief, measuring 12.50 x 2.98 meters, had been taken down at some point in the past. During the restoration of the swimming pool in October 2016, it was re-installed.
Erich Kuhn died in 1925% in Wiesbaden.