The wealthiest man in Europeand perhaps in the worldrose shortly before 8 one morning this week in a modest ranch-style house overlooking the city of Essen on West Germany's Ruhr River. Tall and spare, with steel-grey eyes and finely cut features, he slipped into a dressing gown and carefully selected an expensively tailored dark business suit from his wardrobe. After shaving, he sat down to his usual solitary breakfast of coffee and a single egg, read newspapers and personal mail as he ate. Though his normally taciturn air and faithfulness to morning routine gave little hint of it, the day was an important one in the life of Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, ruler and sole owner of Germany's $1 billion Krupp industrial empire. On Alfried Krupp's soth birthday, his worldwide empire was ready to do him honor.
To his bachelor quarters first came his mother Bertha, 71, after whom German troops fondly named the famed "Big Bertha" cannon in World War I. Other relatives followed, presenting greetings and family gifts. Courteously, bowing slightly, Alfried Krupp* received a workers' delegate who stiffly presented him with a large steel candelabrum made in the Krupp factories. Then he settled into a black, chauffeur-driven BMW sedan for the 15-minute ride into Essen, the center of his empire and a city built almost entirely by the Krupps. There the day's most important ceremony began. On Müchener Strasse, hard by the sprawling Krupp works, he was ceremoniously presented with the keys to a new $2,000,000 research center that will soon house 200 busy scientists, discovering new worlds for Firma Fried. Krupp to conquer. Gathered around him in the center's library, the directors of every Krupp branch and subsidiary throughout Germany raised their glasses and drank a toast in 1955 Moselle to Alfried Krupp von Bohlen's first half centuryand the bright future ahead.
Up from Rubble. Hardly a decade ago, the scene would have been unthinkable. Krupp and his eleven directors were in prison, convicted of war crimes. In Essen, a bomb-strewn jungle of twisted steel and rubble covered the site of the mighty steel plant, bristling with naked chimneys, that had once been Krupp's throbbing heart and muscle. Across Germany, Krupp's vast holdings were rapidly being dismantled and shipped off by the Allies, determined to stamp out "the merchants of death" who in two world wars supplied the cannon used by the long German columns to blast their way across Europe.
Today the factories of Essenand dozens of other Krupp plants throughout Germanyare glowing with activity. Amid the magnificent trappings of the Villa Hügel, his 200-room ancestral mansion above the valley of the Ruhr, Alfried Krupp regally receives visiting heads of state such as King Paul of Greece, Brazil's President Kubitschek, Cabinet ministers and businessmen, extends his hospitality to men who once vowed to destroy him. In a gesture that symbolizes the rehabilitation of the Krupp empire and name, the U.S., which has long refused to admit convicted war criminals, last fortnight granted Alfried Krupp a visa to visit the country.