The Bundesbank, the central bank in Germany, announced on November 3 its backing of an extensive research project about its history from 1923 to 1969, with a particular emphasis on ties between the bank and the Nazi regime.
The independent project will be jointly run by Professor Albrecht Ritschl of the London School of Economics and Professor Magnus Brechtken of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, and will conduct investigation into the subject with unprecedented depth. The project is expected to take around four years and result in an eight-volume publication at a cost of around three million Euros.
The research will cover the evolution of the bank through a series of crucial developments in German history. “A special focus of the study will be on the functioning of the Reichsbank during the Nazi regime,” stated the Bundesbank.
“It is our responsibility to know exactly what happened,” said Michael Best, spokesman for the Bundesbank. “It is as simple as that. You clearly cannot reverse the past, but you can face it and provide knowledge of it to future generations.”
The period under investigation starts with Hjalmar Schacht leading the bank during the hyperinflation of the Ruhr Crisis. During Hitler’s regime, Schacht was also Germany’s Minister of Economics and was arrested and held by the Gestapo after a 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. Another focus for the study will be the gold that Nazis stole from other central banks, theft which institutions like the Bank for International Settlements and the Bank of England facilitated. The project will dive deeper into these events and other developments of the time period.
In this announcement, the Bundesbank joins a larger pattern of German companies and institutions, including Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen, that are also investigating and coming to terms with darker elements of their past.