The idea of savings banks (Sparkassen) has strong roots in Germany. Financial institutions that were very similar to savings banks existed already in the first half of the 18th Century. In 1778, the first original savings bank was established in Hamburg. In 1801, the first municipal savings bank was set up in Göttingen. It became a prototype for the German savings banks, which up to now have close connections to local authorities. During the 19th century savings banks spread across the whole country. They played a decisive in role in financing the industrialization of Germany.
Initially the business conducted by the savings banks was extremely limited, but in the beginning of the 20th century they gained the capacity to perform cashless payments and trades in securities. From then on they developed to all purpose banks.
One of the oldest Savings bank book, issued in 1826.
In 1931 the German government for the first time became directly involved in the law governing the savings banks. The principal outcome of this was the granting of legal independence to the savings banks and their central banks (Girozentralen, Landesbanken). Since 1933 the government integrated the organisation, staff, and business of the savings banks into the National Socialist economic system which aimed at rearmament and war preparation.
After the Second World War the savings banks in Eastern and Western Germany were disassociated. In the German Democratic Republic they became part of the socialist planned economy. Their business was restricted to the acceptance of savings deposits and the settlement of payments, whereas in the Federal Republic of Germany the savings banks continued their progress into modern and market-oriented financial institutions. The reunification of Germany posed to the savings banks the challenge of bringing together those in the East and those in the West into a single organisation. They managed this challenge with great success.
Today in Germany exist more than 400 savings banks which are the core of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (Savings Bank Financial Group). Its tight network of offices and branches provides modern financial services in every region of Germany. With this strategy of regional proximity, the Group‘s institutions competitively fulfil their public mission. They provide an important boost to regional and local economic and structural development and play a responsible part in communities across the country with many social programmes.
Europe's first bank statement printer was installed
in 1975 in a savings bank in Cologne.
Savings banks' advert 1950
Deutscher Sparkassen -und Giroverband:
Wissenschaftsförderung der Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe e. V.:
Zur Geschichte in Deutschland Nr. 45 - Fakten, Analysen, Positionen