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

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Enjoy what has been granted to you. After a day’s work, stay among your loved ones, your parents, your wife and children, and reflect on the household and education. That ought to be your policy. However, save yourself the upset of high state politics. Conducting higher politics requires more time and insight into conditions than the worker has been granted. You are doing your duty if you vote for people recommended by shop stewards.

Yet you will certainly cause nothing but harm if you attempt to interfere with law and order. Incidentally, politicizing at the pub is very expensive; you can get something better at home. [ . . . ]

Over the course of time, from one decade to the next, everything will improve. Anyone looking back on the past cannot deny that great progress has been made for the benefit of all, and thus for the working classes as well. Fifty years ago, no worker enjoyed such good nourishment, accommodation, and clothing as today. No one would be willing to trade places with our parents and ancestors.

What I have expressed here may serve everyone for enlightenment about how things stand and make clear to all what they may expect if they exert effort on behalf of Social Democracy. You do not nourish a snake from your bosom, and whoever does not grant us his whole-hearted devotion, whoever resists our regulations, had better move along, and quickly, too, for he is not welcome here. I will stipulate in my last will and testament that company practices should always be conducted with benevolence and fairness; however, utmost severity will be applied to those who attempt to disturb the peace. If great moderation has been practiced until now, that should not entice anyone to stray from the correct path.

I would like to close with best wishes to all of you.

Source: Alfred Krupp, address to his employees (February 11, 1877), in Wilhelm Berdow, ed., Alfred Krupps Briefe 1826-1887. Im Auftrage der Familie und der Firma Krupp [Alfred Krupp's Letters, 1826-1887. In the Care of the Krupp Family and Company]. Berlin, 1928, pp. 343-48.

Original German text reprinted in Ernst Schraepler, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte der sozialen Frage in Deutschland. 1871 bis zur Gegenwart [Sources for the History of the Social Question in Germany: 1871 to the Present], 3rd rev. ed. Göttingen and Zurich: Muster-Schmidt, 1996, pp. 99-103.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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