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Kultur, Gesellschaft, CSR

Publication of the key findings of the study on HVB predecessor institutions during the Nazi era

The renowned historian, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Horst Möller has today published the key findings of his study on the activities of the predecessor institutions of HypoVereinsbank (HVB) during the National Socialist era. The study examines both the business and staff policies and the social activities of Bayerische Vereinsbank, Bayerische Hypotheken- und Wechsel-Bank, Bayerische Staats-bank and Vereinsbank in Hamburg between 1933 and 1945. The study's main finding is that, as regional banks, in almost all cases, the HVB predecessor institutions made ingenious use of their room for manoeuvre in order to resist the control of the Nazi regime. At the same time, their regionalism and thus their minor importance for the goals of the Nazi regime stood them in good stead.

"Banks and other enterprises were not autonomous protagonists but were constrained by the politics of the regime. Nonetheless, while many banks dismissed Jewish board members and employees as soon as the National Socialists came to power, as a gesture of anticipatory submissiveness in some cases, the management and supervisory boards of Bayerische Vereinsbank, for example, repeatedly prevented Nazi officials from assuming control by skilful manoeuvring and their insistence on legal formalities and the interests of the bank. Although they were subject to certain restrictions, they managed to uphold their autonomy throughout the regime," said Prof. Horst Möller, author of the study, who was Director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) and a Professor in the Department of Modern History at Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich before being granted the title of emeritus professor in 2011. "Obviously, not even regional banks were able to escape completely from the power of the regime and its machinery of oppression. Nevertheless, numerous examples bear testimony to the fact that, within certain boundaries, it was possible to resist the regime's totalitarian demands."

In February 2004, at its own initiative, HVB's Management Board commissioned Prof. Horst Möller's study in order to reappraise, both objectively and without reserve, the history of its predecessor institutions during National Socialism. Over the past few years, thousands of documents have been compiled and processed, thus enabling a great deal of hitherto unknown and disregarded archive material to be included in the scientific study. The historian was given unlimited access to the approximately 125 metres of records from the years 1933 to 1945 in HVB's Historical Archives. He also used further sources, like the Bavarian State Archives, the Bavarian Economic Archive and the Federal Archives in Berlin.

The study on HVB's four regional predecessor institutions comple-ments earlier research on the Nazi past of banks, whose primary focus until now has been on big banks. The study is scheduled for publication as a book in autumn 2015. An extract focusing on the Nazi past of Bayerische Vereinsbank, the parent company of HVB which was founded in 1869, is to be published as a scientific paper in the near future.

Biography of Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Horst Möller:
From 1992 to 2011, the independent contemporary historian Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Horst Möller was Director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) Munich-Berlin and, at the same time, a Professor at the University of Regensburg from 1992 to 1996 and, from 1996 until he was granted emeritus status in 2011, he was a Professor of Modern History at the University of Munich. Research at the IfZ encompasses the whole of German contemporary history in its wider European context, with special emphasis on the phenomenon of National Socialism. Under his direction, the IfZ Munich opened a department in Berlin and was responsible for the research and design of the Dokumentation Obersalzberg. Prof. Möller designed the editions of The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels and The Foreign Policy Files of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Prof. Möller is a member of numerous scientific commissions and has received prestigious awards, like the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class.
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