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Alfred Krupp, Address to his Employees (February 11, 1877)

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The majority of our products are shipped to foreign countries all over the world. The plant owes this exclusive position to its well-established reputation, to the trust that the company administration has acquired little by little since the factory was founded. Without these personal bonds of trust, the entire business would cease. No state and no government will regard the enterprise as the same one of old, and no one will respect it as much if the managing staff were to be changed; the nature of Social Democracy will only give cause for mistrust and antipathy. Yet the champions of the new doctrine about the happiness of nations will not be content with these mere beginnings of radical change; in fact, they will move forward step by step. They do not want to accept any throne, government, religion, property, and inheritance. Equally they reject discipline, a sense of modesty, and moral standards. Whatever good has been created, refined, and sanctified over the centuries – this is supposed to be destroyed, and of course this cannot take place without fire and sword. Whatever a hard-working, thrifty family has accomplished, whatever a generation has honestly acquired, the lazy and slovenly individuals are to be permitted to appropriate; and once their part is consumed, they “share” again with those who have, in the meantime, acquired possessions through hard work and thriftiness. That is frankly the goal that these rioting advocates of the new doctrine pursue. [ . . . ]

I now leave this ugly picture and such dismal reflections in order to move on to another subject, namely, the history of my works, so that you may understand for what reasons and based on what right I will not give an inch in my demands. [ . . . ]

It is a well-known fact, and need not be repeated here, that in 1826 the dilapidated cast-steel plant without assets was entrusted to my leadership. I started with few employees; they earned more and lived a better life than I did. This continued for almost 25 years, accompanied by worries and arduous work. And when I finally employed a greater number of staff, my fortune was nevertheless smaller than that possessed by many a worker in the steel works today. The employees with whom I began and carried out this work were very fine people, and belatedly I would like to thank all of them for their loyalty, including the majority of them who have already passed away. Those, however, who came to me from the herd or plough, who were unemployed, or who were children of widows – they were glad to start working for me because they improved their lot, and in most cases they wanted to express their thanks. Quite a few of them have become prosperous men. [ . . . ] None of them ever thought of making any claims on the [company’s] profits after having received their agreed wages. But today some learned benefactors of the people advocate exactly that claim, using fine phrases; and these have resulted in Socialist doctrines.

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