Credit Banks and the Holocaust in the Generalgouvernement, 1939-1945
The article discusses the role German banks played, through their branches in the Generalgouvernement, in the genesis of and during the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Did the banks have considerable knowledge of the mass murder? To what extent did their transactions in the field of blocking accounts, identifying and confiscating Jewish property and cooperating with the Nazi occupation authorities pave the way for total impoverishment of the Jewish population? The article answers these questions in connection with the policy of expropriation, the ghettoization in Warsaw, and traces of the Holocaust in banking correspondence and the financial aspects of “Operation Reinhard.” The banks in the Generalgouvernement had detailed knowledge of all aspects of property confiscation and discrimination against the Polish Jews. Moreover, although the banks had no direct influence on the guidelines of occupation policy, their cooperation with Nazi authorities was the decisive basis for the plunder and destruction of the Jews’ economic existence in the Generalgouvernement, preceding and accompanying the Holocaust itself.