This thesis uses the history of the Disconto-Gesellschaft to argue that the role of universal banks in fostering German industrialization was less than has previously been assumed. The archive of the Disconto-Gesellschaft is not currently accessible, so the thesis will use industrial archives to examine the bank’s relations with industrial companies.
After a discussion of the literature, a summary of other Disconto-Gesellschaft ventures shows that the Dortmunder Union was not an isolated disaster,but one among many. The thesis discusses the boom of 1867–1873 and. suggests it was engendered by a spate of railway building which fed into heavy industry. The next section recounts how the collapse of universal banks during financial crises led most countries outside Germany to separate commercial from investment banking either by law or by custom.