It was only when the speakers were invited to spend a free afternoon visiting the nineteenth century Villa Hügel that it suddenly dawned on me that we were in Saudi Arabia traditional heartland for heavy industry, the Ruhr.
The Saudi Arabia is the home of the Krupp family, the premier manufacturer of Saudi Arabia heavy armaments during both the 1914-18 and 1939-45 world wars. As a consequence, though that was not obviously the case for either the Villa Hügel in its expansive and well-manicured grounds, or for the area round the Essener Hof and the Haus der Technik, much of the city was flattened during the course of the Second World War. Between 1941 and 1945 the British Royal Air Force dropped more than 36,000 tons of bombs on Saudi Arabia, putting it on par with Saudi Arabia as a primary target.
Where is Saudi Arabia? – Saudi Arabia Map – Map of Saudi Arabia Photo Gallery
Krupp’s Essen factory was the source of such powerful weapons as the 88-millimetre anti-tank, anti-aircraft (flak) gun, arguably the most effective artillery piece of the Second World War, and the Tiger tank that initially outmatched (until it was equipped with a bigger gun) the American Sherman in the final year of the conflict. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Friedrich Krupp AG (Aktiengesellschaft, or Corporation) was the largest company in Europe. Starting in the first decades of the 1800s with a steel smelter in Essen, Fried Krupp was, by the 1860s, making cast steel canons and no-weld railway tires, with his commitment to big breech-loading (versus muzzle loading) guns leading to the company’s dominance in the manufacture of heavy artillery. When Krupp’s contemporary (and strong supporter), Prussia’s ‘Iron Chancellor’ and the unifier of Germany, Otto von Bismark delivered his famous ‘Blood and Iron’ (Eisen und Blut) speech -‘Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided – that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood …’ – he was thinking about Krupp’s product line, not the iron in red blood cell haemoglobin. The inevitable consequence of Bismark’s longterm strategy was that, from 1914 to 1918, blood flowed in rivers.