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Reichsbank at Jägerstraße, photographed in 1933
Reichsbank at Jägerstraße, photographed in 1933
Established1 January 1876 (1876-01-01)
OwnershipGovernment owned
Präsident der ReichsbankSee list
Central bank ofGerman Empire
Weimar Republic
Nazi Germany
Succeeded byBank deutscher Länder (West)
Deutsche Notenbank (East)

The Reichsbank (German: [ˈʁaɪçsˌbank] ; lit.'Bank of the Reich') was the central bank of the German Reich from its establishment in 1876 until liquidation in 1945.[1]

History until 1933[edit]

Stamp of the Reichsbank, 1922
A 100-Goldmark banknote issued by the German Reichsbank in 1908[2]
A 10000 Mark banknote issued by the German Reichsbank in 1922. A watermark is present, but not visible in scanned image.

The Reichsbank was founded on 1 January 1876, shortly after the establishment of the German Empire in 1871. It was the central bank of Prussia, under the close control of the Reich government.[3] Its first president was Hermann von Dechend. Before unification in 1871, Germany had 31 central banks – the Notenbanken ("note banks"). Each of the independent states issued their own money. In 1870, a law was passed that forbade the formation of further central banks. In 1874, a draft banking law was introduced in the Reichstag, the federal legislature of the German Reich. After several changes and compromises, the law was passed in 1875. Despite the creation of the Reichsbank, however, four of the NotenbankenBaden, Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg – continued to exist until 1914[citation needed] .

The Reichsbank experienced both stable and volatile periods[citation needed]. Until World War I, the Reichsbank produced a very stable currency called the Goldmark, but at the outbreak of WWI the link between the mark and gold was abandoned, resulting in the Papiermark. The expenses of the war caused inflationary pressure and the mark started to decrease in value[citation needed] . The defeat of Imperial Germany in 1918, the economic burden caused by the payment of war reparations to the Allies, and the social unrest in the early years culminated in the German hyperinflation of 1922–23.[citation needed]

Economic reforms, such as the issue of a new provisional currency – the Rentenmark – and the 1924 Dawes Plan, stabilised German monetary development and thus the economic outlook of the Weimar Republic. One of the key reforms caused by the Dawes Plan was the establishment of the Reichsbank as an institution independent of the Reich government. On 30 August 1924, the Reichsbank began issuing the Reichsmark, which served as the German currency until 1948.[citation needed]

Nazi period[edit]

As Minister of Economics, Walther Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the confiscated gold rings of Buchenwald prisoners
Nazi gold in Merkers Salt Mine
Organization of the Reichsbank during the Nazi period.

The seizure and consolidation of power by the Nazis during the years of the Third Reich also greatly affected the Reichsbank. A 1937 law re-established the Reich Government's control of the Reichsbank, and in 1939, the Reichsbank was renamed the Deutsche Reichsbank (“Bank of the German Reich”, lit.: “Bank of the German Realm”) and placed under the direct control of Adolf Hitler, with Walther Funk as the last president of the Reichsbank, from 1939 to 1945.[4] The bank benefited by the theft of the property of numerous governments invaded by the Germans, especially their gold reserves and much personal property of the Third Reich's many victims, especially the Jews. Personal possessions such as gold wedding rings were confiscated from prisoners, and gold teeth torn from dead bodies, and after cleaning, were deposited in the bank under the false-name Max Heiliger accounts, and melted down as bullion.

The defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945 resulted in the dissolution of the Reichsbank, along with other Reich ministries and institutions. The explanation of the disappearance of the Reichsbank reserves in 1945 was uncovered by Bill Stanley Moss and Andrew Kennedy, in post-war Germany. In April and May 1945, the remaining reserves of the Reichsbank – gold (730 bars), cash (6 large sacks), and precious stones and metals such as platinum (25 sealed boxes) – were dispatched by Walther Funk to be buried on the Klausenhof Mountain at Einsiedl in Bavaria, where the final German resistance was to be concentrated. Similarly, the Abwehr cash reserves were hidden nearby in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Shortly after the American forces overran the area, the reserves and money disappeared.[5] Funk would be tried and convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials, not least for receiving money and goods stolen from Jewish and other victims of the Nazi concentration camps. Gold teeth extracted from the mouths of victims were found in 1945 in the vaults of the bank in Berlin.[citation needed]

The Allied occupation authorities (in the West – the United Kingdom, France and the United States; in the East – the Soviet Union) became responsible for German monetary policy in the immediate postwar years. In this role, the Allies continued to issue Reichsmarks (and Allied military marks) as the German banking system was gradually restored. In 1948, the Reichsmark ceased to exist owing to the introduction of the Deutsche Mark in the West and the East German mark in the East. In West Germany, monetary policy was taken over by the Bank deutscher Länder (Bank of the German States) and later by the Deutsche Bundesbank. In East Germany, this role was assumed by the Deutsche Notenbank (later renamed as the Staatsbank der DDR (State Bank of the German Democratic Republic).


In Prussia, the Reichsbank kept the branches it inherited from the Bank of Prussia, including buildings it had purchased from others (e.g. the palace erected by David Schindelmeißer [de] in Königsberg, acquired in 1843) and those it had built for itself (e.g. in Bromberg in 1864). Elsewhere, it did not take over the properties of banks whose monetary role it replaced, and erected new branch buildings instead. By the end of the 19th century, it had newly built branches in most of Germany's significant cities. In some cases, these branches were replaced by more modern ones in the interwar period.

The Reichsbank employed a number of specialized architects for branch design, including the prolific Max Hasak [de] and Julius Emmerich [de] from the 1880s to the early 1900s, Havestadt & Contag [de] in the 1890s and early 1900s, Curjel and Moser in the 1900s, Julius Habicht [de] and Hermann Stiller in the 1900s and 1910s, Philipp Nitze [de] in the 1910s and 1920s, and Heinrich Wolff [de] in the 1920s and 1930s.

Due to Germany's territorial losses following World War I, the former Reichsbank branches in what became the Second Polish Republic were taken over by Bank Polski, and the one in the Free City of Danzig became the Bank of Danzig. During World War II, a number of branches were destroyed and not subsequently rebuilt. The one in Munich, whose construction had started in 1938 on the site of the former Herzog-Max-Palais demolished that year, was only completed in 1951.[6] Following the disappearance of the Reichsbank in 1945, a number of its former branches were taken over by its successor entities, namely the Deutsche Bundesbank in West Germany, the Staatsbank der DDR in East Germany, and the National Bank of Poland in Poland; some in East Germany were demolished later on, such as the Chemnitz branch in 1964.[7] Many other branches have been repurposed for other uses over the years, such as the Bucerius Kunst Forum in Hamburg or the Dommuseum Ottonianum [de] in Magdeburg.

The addresses indicated below are the latest ones, which sometimes differ from original addresses due to street renaming and/or renumbering.


No. Picture President of Reichsbank Took office Left office Time in office
Hermann von Dechend
Dechend, HermannHermann von Dechend
1876189013–14 years
Richard Koch [de]
Koch, RichardRichard Koch [de]
1890190813–14 years
Rudolf Havenstein
Havenstein, RudolfRudolf Havenstein
190811 November 192314–15 years
Hjalmar Schacht
Schacht, HjalmarHjalmar Schacht
22 December 1923[21] (appointed Currency Commissioner on 12 November 1923)[22]6 March 19306 years
Hans Luther
Luther, HansHans Luther
7 March 193017 March 19333 years
Hjalmar Schacht
Schacht, HjalmarHjalmar Schacht
18 March 193319 January 19395 years
Walther Funk
Funk, WaltherWalther Funk
20 January 19398 May 19456 years

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Budzinski, Prof Dr Oliver. "Definition: Reichsbank". (in German). Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  2. ^ "German Notes". 2018-01-06. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  3. ^ "168. The Reichsbank". Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  4. ^ Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, 1959. 360.
  5. ^ Moss, W. Stanley, Gold Is Where You Hide It; What Happened to the Reichsbank Treasure?, Andre Deutsch 1959
  6. ^ Thomas Müller. "Das Herzog-Max-Palais: Ein Abriss zugunsten der "Hauptstadt der Deutschen Kunst". Munich Art To Go.
  7. ^ "Reichsbank – Hier ist ihr Geld sicher".
  8. ^ Jacek Kulesza (11 December 2015). "AC Hotel by Marriott powstanie w gmachu dawnego Banku Rzeszy".
  9. ^ Walter Buschmann and Alexander Kierdorf. "Bankenviertel Köln". Rheinische Industriekultur.
  10. ^ "Reichsbankgebäude Eisenach". Architektur Bildarchiv.
  11. ^ Adrian Sajko (13 August 2014). "Bank opuszcza zabytkowy budynek przy 1 Maja. Kupiec pilnie poszukiwany".
  12. ^ "Ehemalige Reichsbank". Essener Ruhrperlen.
  13. ^ Gottfried Kiesow (December 2011). "Die Baukunst zwischen den Weltkriegen". Monumente.
  14. ^ "LZB Landeszentralbank in Hessen, Frankfurt am Main". Jourdain & Müller Steinhauser Architekten.
  15. ^ "Ehemalige Reichsbank".
  16. ^ "150 lat Katowic. Kocur dostał dwa lwy i wypalił fajkę pokoju". 1 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Königsberg (Pr.), Großer Domplatz, Reichsbank (Schindelmeißer-Haus)". Ostpreussen Bildarchiv.
  18. ^ "Reichsbank-Gebäude Lübeck". Architektur Bildarchiv.
  19. ^ "Die Reichsbank am Breiten Weg". Ottostadt Magdeburg.
  20. ^ Iris Cramer and Sabine Muschler. "Architektur und Kunst: Deutsche Bundesbank Hauptverwaltung in Baden-Württemberg" (PDF). Deutsche Bundesbank.
  21. ^ Marsh, David (1992). The Most Powerful Bank: Inside Germany's Bundesbank. New York: Times Books. p. 85. ISBN 0-8129-2158-5.
  22. ^ Marsh, David (1992). The Most Powerful Bank: Inside Germany's Bundesbank. New York: Times Books. p. 84. ISBN 0-8129-2158-5.

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