Cover image for The Deutsche Bank and the Nazi economic war against the Jews : the expropriation of Jewish-owned property
The Deutsche Bank and the Nazi economic war against the Jews : the expropriation of Jewish-owned property
James, Harold.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambrige ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xi, 268 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1580 Lexile.
Format :


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HG3058.D4 J36 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest financial institution, played an important role in the expropriation of Jewish-owned enterprises during the Nazi dictatorship, both in the existing territories of Germany, and in the area seized by the German army during World War II. In this 2001 book Harold James uses new and previously unavailable materials, many from the bank's own archives, to examine policies which led to the eventual genocide of European Jews. How far did the realization of the vicious and destructive Nazi ideology depend on the acquiescence, the complicity, and the cupidity of existing economic institutions, and individuals? In response to the traditional view that business co-operation with the Nazi regime was motivated by profit, this book closely examines the behaviour of the bank and its individuals to suggest other motivations. No comparable study exists of a single company's involvement in the economic persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

Author Notes

Harold James is Professor of History at Princeton University.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a book that could be subtitled "Hitler's Willing Investment Bankers," Princeton historian James recounts the Deutsche Bank's participation in the "aryanization" of the German economy from 1932 to 1940, drawing on internal Deutsche Bank records that only recently became available as well as material seized by Soviet troops after World War II. He shows how, as the Nazis began to rise to power, the bank reluctantly purged itself of Jewish directors, followed by Jewish employees, in response to state pressure. Later, James reveals, the regime enlisted the bank employees' professional skills, domestic and foreign relationships, and financial muscle to eliminate Jewish control and ownership of German companies. The expropriation was conducted gradually, since many hastily seized companies proved worthless without the management of their Jewish former owners, and also because this method muted foreign criticism and preserved a veneer of legality. This stands in stark contrast to the brutally simple methods used by the Nazis in occupied countries and, after 1941, in Germany as well, explains James. While he finds it impossible to make an accurate estimate of the profit Deutsche Bank made from these activities and whether that profit might exceed postwar reparations, he suggests that extravagant figures cited by other researchers are baseless and implausible. His work will not carry weight with these critics, however, since it was subsidized by Deutsche Bank and is largely based on documents kept under their control for the last 50 years. (Mar. 15) Forecast: While the publisher has positioned this work as a nonfiction thriller revealing previously unimagined levels of corruption, it is actually a dry history that will primarily attract serious students of the period. James's moderate positions on the bank's profit and the guilt borne by bank managers is unlikely to win friends on either side of the controversy. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

In the last decade, restitution claims have stimulated interest in the economic dimension of the Holocaust. In this closely argued monograph, James investigates the role of Germany's largest private lender, Deutsche Bank, in "aryanizing" Jewish property. Author of The German Slump: Politics and Economics, 1924-1936 (CH, Nov'86) and member of the Historical Commission of Deutsche Bank, James examined the records of several hundred property transactions available in the firm's archives. He situates Deutsche Bank's complicity in the "dejudification" of the German economy within several contexts: the numerous forms of "aryanization"; Nazi hostility toward private banking, including Deutsche; the firm's unhealthy competition with state-directed rivals Dresdner Bank and Reichs-Kredit-Gesellschaft; and the cumulative radicalization (or pragmatic calculation) of individual managers such as Hermann Josef Abs and Walter Pohle. To Deutsche Bank, profits realized from "aryanization" were secondary to securing political influence within the regime, so James argues. Technical financial discussions confine this book's audience primarily to specialists. Interested readers should also consult studies by Peter Hayes, Christopher Kopper, and Jonathon Steinberg, as well as The Deutsche Bank, 1870-1995, edited by Lothar Gall et al. (1995). Recommended for graduate, research, and professional collections. J. R. White formerly, University of Nebraska--Lincoln

Table of Contents

Preface of the historical commission appointed to examine the history of the Deutsche bank in the period of national socialism
Author's preface
Selected abbreviations
1 Business and politics: banks and companies in Nazi Germany
2 The structure, organization, and economic environment of Deutsche bank
3 National socialism and banks
4 The problem of 'Aryanization'
5 Deutsche bank and 'Aryanization' in the pre-1938 boundaries of Germany
6 Deutsche bank abroad: 'Aryanization', territorial expansion, and economic reordering
7 Jewish-owned bank accounts
8 The profits of the Deutsche bank
9 Some concluding reflections