Even before World War I, the House of Siemens was one of the largest and most important German industrial enterprises in terms of total assets, sales, and the size of its labor force. Consisting of two parent companies, Siemens & Halske and Siemens-Schuckertwerke (plus a host of subsidiaries and affiliated companies), the Siemens corporation successfully developed into a multinational concern that spanned the field of electrical engineering. In 1913 the company posted total sales of 410 million marks and employed a labor force of 82,000, a quarter of which worked abroad.
Drawing on previously inaccessible and unpublished sources, Feldenkirchen analyzes Siemens's policy decisions within the context of the German economy as a whole. He begins with the economic situation following World War I, a period characterized by cyclical movements of high inflation. The examination of the company continues throughout the subsequent so-called Weimar boom, the Great Depression, the period of economic recovery under National Socialist rule, and finally, World War II. Feldenkirchen also probes Siemens's involvement in the National Socialists' war-time economy and discusses the issues of rearmament and forced labor.