The Krupp family was one of the leading industrial families in Germany during the 20th century. Alfred Krupp, during the mid-1800's produced high quality steel products, most notably weapons. These weapons were instrumental in Otto von Bismarck's successful attempt to unify the German states into one nation. Alfred continued to expand the family empire overseas and into other divisions including war ships. During World War I, the firm began manufacturing "Big Bertha" guns.
During World War II, the firm was very closely affiliated with Hitler and the Nazis. Alfried Krupp, grandson of Alfred, began to take advantage of the slave labor being offered by the Nazi regime. When the war ended, Alfried was convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremburg Trials but was released in 1951. The company faced stiff competition and the task of rebuilding the damaged factories. The company lost much of the prestige and stature it once held afterwards.