Hermann Abs, Leading German Banker Since 1930s, Dies at 92
BERLIN (AP) _ Hermann Josef Abs, a banker who served the Nazis and then helped rebuild West Germany after World War II, has died at age 92, German television reports said late Sunday.
The national ARD television network and ZDF television said Abs had died Saturday. There was no immediate confirmation.
Abs was for many years head of the Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest commercial bank, and was its honorary chairman at the time of his death.
A member of Deutsche Bank’s managing board at age 36, Abs was a major figure in Germany’s wartime economy and a member of the advisory board of the central bank of the time, the Reichsbank.
Abs was not known as a friend of the Nazis but also did not claim to have opposed them. ″A man who has not been imprisoned or hanged or shot by the Nazis cannot claim to have opposed Hitler,″ Abs is quoted as saying in the 1989 book ″The New Germany,″ by British journalist David Marsh.
He was briefly interned after the war. But he later played an important role in the Allies’ efforts to repair West Germany’s economy.
The United States blocked Abs’ election to the policy-making council of West Germany’s fledgling central bank in 1948, yet Abs became a close adviser to Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war chancellor, and organized the agency that put U.S. Marshall Plan aid to work.
In interviews with Marsh, Abs said he had organized Deutsche Bank’s 1939 takeover of the Jewish-owned Mendelssohn Bank after the bank’s senior partner came to him in desperation because the Nazis were threatening foreclosure.
Abs said Jews he helped quietly had been grateful to him, but he did not go into details, Marsh wrote.
When Deutsche Bank was re-established in 1957, he became its chief executive and also served on supervisory boards of numerous companies in industry during the period known as the ″economic miracle.″
He was born Oct. 15, 1901, son of a business lawyer in Bonn.