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Report: German Bank Helped Build Auschwitz

A new report shows that Dresdner Bank had stronger ties to the Nazis than once thought.

Dresdner Bank officials knew what was going on in Auschwitz, according to new research

Germany's Dresdner Bank once held a major stake in a company that helped build the Auschwitz death camp, according to a report commissioned by the bank and confirmed by a bank official to the Associated Press (AP).

The bank held a 26 percent stake in the company, Huta, Dresdner spokesman Ulrich Porwollik told AP. The report was first reported by the newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which also reported that Huta built at least two of the crematoria at Auschwitz, located in Nazi-occupied Poland, as well as buildings for accommodation and delousing.

Researchers also discovered bank officials repeatedly headed Huta's supervisory board, beginning as early as 1910, but "also at the relevant time," Porwollik told AP.

A critical light

Dresdner Bank, now part of German insurance giant Allianz, charged historian Klaus-Dietmar Henke and others in 1997 with investigating the company's Nazi-era past. The bank opened their archives to the historians.

Dresdner Bank officials say they accept the report's results

Henke and his team compiled a 2,400 report called "The Dresdner Bank in the Third Reich," which showed "open complicity" with the Nazi regime. That cooperation included acting as the largest lender to the SS, the elite Nazi paramilitary organization. Dresdner was a state-controlled bank at the time.

The report also said that the leadership of the bank at the time knew about the extermination camp and the mass murder of the Jews that was taking place there.

The bank's chief Herbert Walter told Der Spiegel said research showed the bank's history in "an extremely critical light."

"We will accept these findings even if they are damaging," he told the magazine.

Moral responsibility

The author of the study said that the bank "carries a moral responsibility for being mixed up in what happened at Auschwitz."

About 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis

The bank was taken over by the government in 1932 and top bank positions were filled with Nazis.

The research project cost 1.6 million euros ($2 million) to complete and Dresdner Bank officials said they will present the full report on February 17.

DW.DE