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The history of Deutsche Bank – (railroads, oil, money and fascism)

26 June, 2009


While skimming the news at Reuters today yesterday, I found the following statement.

Lastly, in oil news, Ericsson (ERIC) Chief Executive Carl-Henric Svanberg has been named chairman of BP (BP) “in a surprise appointment that ends the oil major’s lengthy search for a new chairman,” Reuters writes.  here

It caught my attention because when I was writing my previous article on Deutsche Bank here, I chose to focus on its connection with U.S. development, rather than Europe or Asia.  But the comment about Ericsson and BP sent me back to my notes because I’d remembered the following early history of Deutsche Bank and BP.   Everywhere you turn, there are connections.

First the Persian Empire:   In 1888, Deutsche Bank was approached by Sultan Abdul Hamid II and asked to become involved in the building of the Baghdad Railroad.  (Remember that DB was heavily involved in RR building in Europe and America.)  Deutsche Bank was granted a franchise to build a railroad linking Ankara and Istanbul.  The first part of the railroad was build by the firm of  Philip Holzmann and went from Haydarpasha to Anakara.  In 1896, a line to Konya was completed.  During this year,  the concession was transferred to the Anatolian Railroad Company in 1896;  Deutsche Bank owned a majority of shares in the Anatolian R.R.

In 1903, construction continued to Mosul, Bahgdad and Basra.  When the Persian Empire fell, only 200 kilometers has been built.  The final segment was completed after the first world war by the Iraqi State (between 1936-40, from Istanbul to Baghdad).

And now, oil:

In 1903, Deutsche Bank acquired Steava Romana – a Romanian oil company which had extensive deposits in the Eastern and Southern Carpathian mountains.  Emil Georg von Strauss had joined Steava Romana in 1905.  He was General directer by 1914 and in 1915 he became a member of the Board of Directors of Deutsche Bank.  DB sold Steava Romana at the end of the first World War without financial loss.

Von Strauss was also the Managing Director of the European Petroleum Union AND General Director of Deutsche-Petroleum (the oil interests of the bank).  In 1929 a merger with DB’s rival (Disconto-Gesellschaft) created the largest bank in Germany.

During the late twenties (1926-1931), Anglo-Persian Oil Company slowly acquired all of Deutsche Banks’ shares and that was the end of DB’s involvement in the oil business.

Anglo Persian Oil Company is the former name of BP (British Petroleum).

And, finally,  Von Strauss:

However, the example of Deutsche Bank board (since 1933, supervisory board) member Emil Georg von Strauss, who was the vice-president of the Reichstag after 1933, shows that NSDAP involvement could also be found among bankers.   [bold emphasis mine] here

Von Strauss was involved with the Nazi government until his death; the image of his funeral oration (here) shows that he was highly regarded by the party.  If you read the paragraph to the left of the picture, you might recognize the names of three banks who received billions from the bank that was too big to fail last year.  (yes, I mean AIG).  I’m not saying that the current banks are all part of a Nazi conspiracy; I just think it’s odd that they survived to become three of the world’s leading banks again.

To be fair, Deutsche bank discusses its involvement with the Nazis on its history page (here), but you’ll have to form your own opinion.


If it’s true that the banks slipped all unknowing into fascism and genocide because the actions were made legal in bits and pieces, then I hope someone is watching the interaction of law and money in this country now.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Erik Tängerstad permalink
    2 May, 2010 21:15

    Only a detail. His name was Stauss (not Strauss)
    What have you found in connection between DB and Ericsson?
    Best

    • 10 May, 2010 21:15

      The articles I quote in my post refer to him as Strauss. Where did you find the name Stauss? If you read this, please comment again.

      I am not doing research nor posting at the moment because of a family crisis. When that ends, I hope to resume.

  2. Mikel permalink
    4 May, 2012 21:15

    Hello there, I see that you have a good grip on the history of this bank, do you know if the Detusche bank of Berlin back in 1923 had any connection with an American bank named Merchant’s National Bank ? Thank you

    • 27 July, 2012 21:15

      Sorry to be so long responding to your reply. I have not been posting for a long time due to a death in my family. I have no record of Deutsche Bank being involved with Merchant’s Bank which was formed in 1871 in California. It became known as Farmer’s and Merchants Bank and then later as Security Pacific. It was eventually taken over by Bank of America when B of A began buying up as many banks as possible. I believe I have a post of their history as well. If you need specific information I would suggest you do a search for it. Most banks are happy to discuss their history on line.

      • 27 July, 2012 21:15

        Some of you may have tried to find the earlier post of Deutsche Bank and the building of the railroads and other major companies in the U.S. The link led to an incorrect address. Here is the correct link:

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