Hermann Josef Abs; Banking Leader Helped Rebuild W. Germany
Hermann Josef Abs, 92, banker who served the Nazis and helped rebuild West Germany. Abs was head of Germany’s largest commercial bank, Deutsche Bank, for many years and remained its honorary chairman at the time of his death. On the bank’s board at the outset of World War II, he became a member of the advisory board of the Nazis’ Reichsbank. He was briefly interned after the war but later played a major role in Allied efforts to reconstruct West Germany’s economy. As an adviser to Konrad Adenauer, the first postwar chancellor, Abs organized the agency that put U.S. Marshall Plan aid to work. Abs insisted that he had aided Jews during the war, organizing the Deutsche Bank takeover of the Jewish-owned Mendelssohn Bank in 1939 at its leaders’ request. But Jewish leaders continued to question his wartime efforts on behalf of the Nazis, and in the mid-1980s Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies strongly criticized Pope John Paul II for appointing Abs to advise the Vatican Bank. On Feb. 5 in Berlin.