Historical Institute of Deutsche Bank

Preservation – Research – Publication

The Historical Institute of Deutsche Bank performs the closely allied functions of researching the history of the bank and looking after its historically important collections of source material. It takes a critical look at Deutsche Bank's history, through its own research as well as research undertaken by independent scholars. In 2019, archive collections from the Historical Institute have been inducted into the German Register of National Cultural Assets. The documents date from the period between the mid-19th century and the end of the 20th century.

On August 29, 1961, the Management Board of Deutsche Bank decided to set up a historical archive at its Frankfurt headquarters, making it the oldest professional company archive in the German financial industry. Today, the archive contains more than 6 kilometers of business and personnel files, documents, photos, films, advertising material and securities of Deutsche Bank and its predecessor institutions.

The founding of the archives was a result of the Cold War. Two weeks after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, it was clear Deutsche Bank would not regain access to documents at its former Berlin headquarters in East Berlin. As the Bank’s 100th anniversary in 1970 was approaching, it was essential to collect the materials that remained in West Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 12,600 files from Deutsche Bank's former headquarters were returned to the company.

The archive today is not only responsible for collecting and preserving material, but also has the important task of communicating the Bank’s historical identity. Because of this, in 1996 the Historical Archive was renamed “Historical Institute of Deutsche Bank”.


Letter written by Thomas A. Edison in 1889


Prof. Harold James presenting the source edition of the banker Georg Solmssen

Research into the bank's history during the Nazi era

Since 1988, one of the focal points of the Historical Institute's research has been on the National Socialist period. A general summary of the history of the bank during the years 1933-1945, written by Harold James, was published in 1995 as a chapter in "The Deutsche Bank 1870-1995". 

The publication won wide acclaim, especially because it presented the history of the bank during the Nazi era.

Deutsche Bank was the first German financial institution to initiate a rigorous and in-depth investigation into its history during National Socialism. An independent commission of historians set up in 1997 to research the bank’s history during the Nazi era further intensified this important work. At the beginning of 1999, historians working on the project discovered documents about loans from the Katowice branch that showed that the bank had financed construction work in Auschwitz.

Rolf-E. Breuer, then Spokesman of the Management Board, wrote a memo to all employees shortly afterwards: “The involvement of Deutsche Bank in the Nazi regime is a cause of deep consternation for us. I should like to emphasise once again, on the bank's behalf, that we deeply regret the misery and injustice suffered and that we acknowledge the bank's ethical and moral responsibility.”

In 2003, Harold James published a fully revised edition of this chapter in a new book with the title "The Nazi Dictatorship and the Deutsche Bank". This general presentation of the history of Deutsche Bank during the Nazi period was preceded by detailed studies, such as the examination of "Aryanization and the Nazi Economic War Against the Jews" (2001), also written by Harold James, and the report by Jonathan Steinberg, "The Deutsche Bank and its Gold Transactions during the Second World War" (1999).

In 2004, an extensive biography of Hermann Josef Abs (1901-1994), who was the bank's Spokesman of the management board for many years, was published in German by Lothar Gall. With discerning judgment, Gall dedicates special attention in this book to the years of the "Third Reich". A further biography about Deutsche Bank’s Spokesman Oscar Wassermann (1869-1934) was written by Avraham Barkai, and came out in German in 2005.

To commemorate the Jewish employees of Deutsche Bank who were victims of Nazi persecution a project was launched in 2021 to research individual fates and document them by gradually publishing them on the Historical Association of Deutsche Bank's website. The aim is to put a face to as many former Jewish colleagues as possible.

Further Projects

Deutsche Bank's business in the USA – against the background of German-American financial and trade relations since 1870 – has been researched by the American business historian Christopher Kobrak from the European School of Management, Paris. The results of this extensive study were published in 2008: “Banking on Global Markets. Deutsche Bank & the United States 1870 to the Present”.

The comprehensive edition "Georg Solmssen – a German banker. Letters from half a century" (in German) provides insights into half a century of German financial, economic and social history and made important sources, which had been scattered so far, accessible to a broad public for the first time.

In 2019, the study “Alfred Herrhausen: manager and symbolic figure of Rhenish capitalism”, for which historian Friederike Sattler has analyzed a large volume of files at the Historical Institute, was published.

In the year of Deutsche Bank’s 150th anniversary a new general presentation was published: “Deutsche Bank. The Global Hausbank 1870-2020”. The Historical Institute coordinated this large-scale publication project, for which Deutsche Bank had commissioned a team of internationally renowned economic historians already in 2015.


Some publications of the Historical Institute

Records of Deutsche Bank's history

The Historical Institute has some 6,000 shelf-meters of documents in its archive, the earliest of which are from precursors of Deutsche Bank and date from the mid-nineteenth century. All source material from 1850 up to and including 1945 is available to the public for research purposes.

Gradually, files from the post-war period are also released, such as the extensive business related records of Hermann Josef Abs.

The reading library on banking history contains approx. 8,000 volumes.

Use of the archive is possible only by prior request and appointment.


Deutsche Bank AG
Historisches Institut
60262 Frankfurt am Main

Archive with lots of material Historic research

Archive collections available



Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank Berlin, Secretariat
Deutsche Bank Berlin, America Office
Deutsche Bank Berlin, Oriental Office
Deutsche Bank Berlin, Head Office
Hermann J. Abs Office
Deutsche Bank Personnel Files





Subsidiary banks

Deutsche Centralbodencredit AG
Deutsche Ueberseeische Bank
Deutsch-Asiatische Bank






A. Schaaffhausen'scher Bankverein
Norddeutsche Bank in Hamburg
Hannoversche Bank
Rheinische Creditbank
Bergisch Märkische Bank
Hildesheimer Bank
Osnabrücker Bank
Süddeutsche Disconto-Gesellschaft






  • Photos
  • Annual reports
  • Maps and plans
  • Securities
  • Press clippings