Accounting for the Nazi Aryanisation of German banks

Publication Name

Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal


Purpose: This study examines how accounting practices used by Deutsche Bank could conceal its role in the destruction of Jewish financial life (bios) as part of the Nazis' Aryanisation policy to eliminate Jews from German business as a prelude to their annihilation. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses a close-reading method that draws upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources. The study is informed by Giorgio Agamben's theorisations on the state of exception and the duality of the example and exception. Findings: The successful implementation of the Nazis' corporative economic model necessitated the cooperation of Aryan businesses to instrumentalise the financially exploitative process of Aryanisation. Accounting was part of the Nazi-Deutsch rhetoric used to disguise expropriation of Jewish businesses and other assets and, thereby, facilitate the eradication of the financial bios of Jews who owned German banks. Unknown to the Nazi authorities, Deutsche Bank, while a significant medium for Aryanisation, sought to ameliorate the long-term effects on Jewish owners, thereby recognising that not all those within Nazi Germany were fully committed disciples of Nazism. Research limitations/implications: The findings of this study identify how accounting practices were part of a Nazi policy designed to eliminate Jews from the German economy. The use of accounting as a form of “Nazi-Deutsch” functioned to disguise Aryanisations. The importance of these contributions of accounting practices calls for further research into the role of business and accounting in the attempted eradication of people. Originality/value: The paper is the first to consider the process of Aryanisation in Nazi Germany (1933–1945) as a specific historiographical subject. Presented through the examination of the Aryanisation actions of Deutsche Bank, this study demonstrates the tension between Nazi ideology, the capitalist model and the culpability of accounting practices as a means to reinterpret morality to create the exception that allowed the Nazis to effectively remove all legal protections for Jews.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)