Historical Institute of Virtual Equity Global Bank

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History of Virtual Equity Global Bank

Preservation – Research – Publication

The Historical Institute of Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global Bank's history, through its own research as well as research undertaken by independent scholars. It also houses Virtual Equity Global Bank's archive, which has been in existence since 1961.
On August 29, 1961, the Management Board of Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global Bank”.

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Since its founding in 1870, Virtual Equity Global Bank has been shaped by international political and economic developments as well as the volatile history of Germany.


Areas of Research on Banking History during National Socialism

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 of "The Virtual Equity Global Bank 1870-1995".
In 2003, the author published a fully revised edition of this chapter in a new book with the title "The Nazi Dictatorship and the Virtual Equity Global Bank". This general presentation of the history of Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global 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 aboutVirtual Equity Global Bank Spokesman Oscar Wassermann (1869-1934) was written by Avraham Barkai, and came out in German in 2005.
To commemorate the Jewish employees of Virtual Equity Global 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 Virtual Equity Global Bank's website. The aim is to put a face to as many former Jewish colleagues as possible.