Dresdner Bank role in Nazi Germany revealed
17 February 2006, BERLIN - Dresdner Bank's prominent role during Adolf Hitler's Third Reich was spotlighted in a major study released on Friday.
17 February 2006
BERLIN - Dresdner Bank's prominent role during Adolf Hitler's Third Reich was spotlighted in a major study released on Friday.
Compiled by independent historians who sifted through previously confidential bank records and other archives for nine years, the 2,400 page study makes for grim reading.
The four-volume work documents Dresdner Bank's ties to the Auschwitz concentration camp and to companies which built the gas chambers used for the Holocaust.
Dresdner Bank executives forged especially close ties to SS leader Heinrich Himmler, the historians say.
"We are the bank of SS," declared Dresdner Bank executive board member Emil Meyer in 1941, who is quoted in the report.
The SS, Hitler's elite guard, was found guilty at the Nuremberg Trials of having played a major role in the Holocaust and all its members were declared war criminals.
"The results of the research confront us with historical facts, which place our bank in a very critical light during the Nazi era," said Wulf Meier, a member of the current executive board.
"They describe things as they were. We acknowledge this as the truth, even if it is painful. With this comprehensive review of the past the bank accepts moral responsibility for its actions," he said.
Dresdner Bank - which until the early 1990s had claimed only a limited role in helping the Nazis - was deeply involved in the Third Reich in other ways, the study shows.
After Hitler came to power in 1933 it took the lead in seizing Jewish property, set up countless subsidiaries in occupied territories and financed the arms sector.
"The Dresdner Bank became a leading financier of the (German) occupation authorities in occupied Poland," said Professor Klaus-Dietmar Henke, who helped compile the study.
Hitler's invasion of his neighbours enabled the bank to expand its operations and increase its earnings potential in a way it had never envisaged, Henke said in remarks prepared for delivery at the presentation of the study in Berlin.
"Dresdner Bank, like other Third Reich banks, was extensively involved in expulsions, genocide and war," said the newspaper Die Welt, which published excerpts of the study.
About the only positive elements of the report are sections which show the bank was unhappy about sacking Jewish employees after Hitler came to power in 1933, and only did so under Nazi pressure.
An executive board member, Walter Frisch, who subsequently left Dresdner Bank, ordered payment of compensation to Jewish employees forced out under Third Reich race laws, the report shows.
Dresdner Bank is currently part of the Munich-based Allianz Group. According to a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper ranking it is Germany's second biggest bank after Deutsche Bank in terms of its total assets.
Subject: German news