Dr. Heinrich Koppers, a German inventor, developed a process to distill and capture the by-products of coal combustion…. Dr. Koppers developed his new process in Germany, and he was brought to the United States in 1908 by US Steel to build by-product coke oven for its use.  As war clouds gathered, Dr Koppers became anxious about mounting anti-German sentiment, the possibility of war, and the seizure of his patents and operations.

Following the German attack on Belgium, the demand for the by-products of Dr Koppers’ ovens skyrocketed. “With the advent of war came the realization that the striking power of a nation in modern warfare is largely determined by it supply of coke.…Altogether the company played a most important part in the successful prosecution of the world conflict.”

In 1915, the Mellons moved in, reorganized, and effectively secured control of the company, leaving the inventor with a 20% share. When the United States declared war on Germany, the Koppers Company, undoubtedly motivated by the deepest patriotic sentiment, notified Attorney General Palmer of the German inventor’s stake-holding, whereby his share was confiscated and sold at auction to the sole bidder — the Mellon interests.

— McCollester, The Point of Pittsburgh, citing David Koskoff’s The Mellons: Chronicle of America’s Richest Family and Frank Harper’s Pittsburgh of today: Its resources and people.

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