Fritz Thyssen, the son of the successful industrialist, August Thyssen (1842-1926), was born on the 9th November, 1873. He joined the German Army in 1896 and reached the rank of second lieutenant.
In 1898 Thyssen joined Thyssen & Co a company owned by his father in the Ruhr. By the outbreak of the First World War the company employed 50,000 workers and produced 1,000,000 tons of steel and iron a year.
In 1923 took part in the resistance against the Ruhr Occupation by Belgian and French troops. He was arrested and received a large fine for his activities.
At a meeting with General Eric Ludendorff in October 1923, Thyssen was advised to go and hear Adolf Hitler speak. He did this and was so impressed he began to finance the Nazi Party.
Thyssen inherited his father's fortune in 1926. He continued to expand and in 1928 formed United Steelworks, a company that controlled more that 75 per cent of Germany's ore reserves and employed 200,000 people.
By 1930 Thyssen was one of the leading backers of the Nazi Party. The following year he recruited Hjalmar Schacht to the cause and in November, 1932, the two men joined with other industrialists in signing the letter that urged Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor. This was successful and on 20th February, 1933, they arranged a meeting of the Association of German Industrialists that raised 3 million marks for the Nazi Party in the forthcoming election.
Thyssen supported the measures that Hitler took against the left-wing political groups and trade unions. He also put pressure on Hitler to suppress the left of the Nazi Party that resulted in the Night of the Long Knives. However, as a Catholic, Thyssen objected when Hitler began persecuting people for their religious beliefs.
Thyssen resigned as state councillor in protest against Crystal Night. The following year he fled to Switzerland and Hitler promptly confiscated his property. Thyssen moved to France but was arrested by the Vichy government and was returned to Germany where he was sent to a concentration camp.
Thyssen was freed by Allied forces in 1945. Arrested he was convicted by a German court for being a former leader of the Nazi Party and was ordered to hand over 15 per cent of his property to provide a victims of Nazi persecution. Fritz Thyssen died in Buenos Aires on 8th February, 1951.