Fritz Thyssen (1873-1951) was a German industrialist and one of Hitler's major financiers. Thyssen was born on November 9th, 1873, and joined the German Army in 1896, reaching the rank of 2nd lieutenant. In 1898 he joined his father's company, Thyssen & Co., which employed 50,000 workers and produced 1,000,000 tons of iron and steel per year. In October 1923, Thyssen saw Adolf Hitler speak for the first time. He was impressed by his ideas, and so began to finance the Nazi Party.
He inherited his father August's fortune in 1926, and formed United Steelworks in 1928, which controlled over 75% of Germany's ore reserves and employed 200,000 workers. In 1931 he recruited banker Hjalmar Schact to the Nazi cause, and the next year the two, along with other industrialists signed the letter to Paul von Hindenburg urging him to appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor. On February 20th, 1933, he helped arrange a meeting of the Association of German Industrialists, raising 3 million marks for the Nazi Party.
Thyssen put pressure on Hitler to suppress the left-leaning factions of the Nazi Party, resulting in the Night of the Long Knives, and he supported actions taken against trade unions. Thyssen was Catholic though, and objected to Hitler's persecution of people for their religious beliefs. He resigned as state councillor in protest of the Kristallnacht. He fled to Switzerland the next year, and his property was confiscated. He moved to France, but was arrested, and sent to a German concentration camp.
A book titled I Paid Hitler was published in 1941, in which the author explains the reasons for financing Hitler. However, it is unclear whether this book was written by Thyssen himself. After being freed by Allied forces in 1945, he was arrested and convicted by a German court of his dealings with the Nazi Party. He was ordered to give up 15% of his property to victims of Nazi persecution. He died in Buenos Aires on February 8th, 1951.