125 years DZ BANK - "achieving more together"

History and milestones

DZ BANK AG Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank is the fruit of a long and intense concentration process among Germany’s cooperative central institutions. The bank’s roots go back to 1883, when Hesse’s savings and loan banks founded Landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftsbank AG in Darmstadt. The first cooperatives were created in Germany from the middle of the 19th century onwards – a time of far-reaching technical, economic and social change. Population growth, the ‘Industrial Revolution’ caused by technical innovations such as the steam engine and the railway as well as the liberalisation of the economy created completely new industries that grew rapidly and attracted workers. But the flip side of the coin was a deep-rooted social crisis: broad sections of the population slid into poverty. The causes of and solutions for the problems of the time were debated within the framework of the ‘Social Question’ – the birth of the cooperative idea.

Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (1808-1883), a politician and the founder of the commercial cooperative system, played a pioneering role here. As early as 1864 his ‘Volksbanken’ obtained a central institute in the form of Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank von Soergel, Parrisius & Co. Berlin businessmen put up some of the bank’s capital.
‘Soergelbank’ also conducted non-cooperative business, which later led to the merger with Dresdner Bank because of the high losses it caused. At that time, Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818-1888) was a proponent of the establishment of rural loan associations and in 1876 he set up a central institute, which subsequently became Deutsche Raiffeisenbank AG.

With the support of Wilhelm Haas (1839-1913) a second rural cooperative association spread out from Hesse as the centre. It was also Haas who in 1883 supported the establishment of Landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftsbank AG in Darmstadt. The regional central institute’s shareholders were Hesse’s savings and loan banks. Initially, the bank used ‘Soergelbank’ for its supra-regional liquidity compensation. Later, it worked together with the Preußische Zentralgenossenschaftskasse – a public sector agency that was set up in 1895 to promote cooperative personal loans.

In 1929 the Frankfurter Genossenschaftspakt brought together the organisations of Haas and Raiffeisen to form the world’s largest cooperative association. Deutsche Raiffeisenbank AG was wound up. Its banking business was continued by regional central institutes which cooperated with the ‘Preußenkasse’: in 1939 Dresdner Bank transferred its cooperative departments to the ‘Deutschlandkasse.’ The successor bank of ‘Preußenkasse’ was thus the sole central institute of a three-tier banking system and the link between the ‘Volksbanken’ and the ‘Raiffeisenbanken.’

On the establishment of the Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken (Federal Association of German Cooperative Banks) in 1972, the organisational segregation of commercial and rural local cooperative banks was brought to an end. As of 1985 the first mergers took place between regional central institutes and DG BANK, which continued Deutschlandkasse’s central institute function. The three-tier structure gradually disappeared. In 1990 DG BANK also became the central institute for the local cooperative banks in the new federal states. Finally, in 2001 GZ-Bank, which among other things continued the banking business of the Landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftsbank, and DG BANK merged to form DZ BANK–and the unification in the cooperative superstructure thus reached its peak.

The most important milestones in the history of DZ BANK

1883: Establishment of Landwirtschaftliche Genossenschaftsbank AG Darmstadt

1895: Establishment of Preußische Zentralgenossenschaftskasse Berlin

1929: The Frankfurt Cooperative Pact

1939: Deutsche Zentralgenossenschaftskasse becomes the sole central institute in the cooperative system

1972: Creation of the Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken (Federal Association of German Cooperative Banks)

1985-1990: Mergers between DG BANK and regional central institutes

2001: Merger of GZ-Bank and DG BANK to form DZ BANK