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21.05.2008

Celebration Marks the Opening of the Bank Austria Historical Archive

  • First publicly accessible bank archive in Austria follows international pioneers
  • A look back at the 153-year history of Bank Austria and its predecessor banks
  • Active role in promoting science and research

A celebration is being held today to mark the opening of the Bank Austria Historical Archive, the first publicly accessible bank archive in Austria. This international-calibre central archive will provide all interested visitors a look at Bank Austria’s 153-year history and is responsible for managing all historically relevant documents of the bank and its predecessor institutions – Länderbank, Zentralsparkasse und Kommerzialbank Wien (Z) and Creditanstalt-Bankverein (CA). By setting up this collection, Bank Austria is not only increasing the information available to its own internal staff, but is also setting up a service point for interested external persons such as scientists, historical researchers, students and the media.

“The Bank Austria Historical Archive will make an important contribution to preserving and documenting the history of the Austrian banking industry and economy and will allow researchers to access original source material on the history of our bank for their own scholarly work,” said Erich Hampel, CEO of Bank Austria, in his opening speech: “We are the first Austrian bank to have set up such an institution. This also makes us a national trailblazer in increasing awareness for the importance of bank and corporate archives, which can already be found in England, Germany and other European countries.”

Three thousand metres of Austrian banking history from 1855 to 1970
At a length of 3,000 metres, or the equivalent of roughly 30,000 archive boxes with written documents, photos, signs and audiovisual materials such as slides, films and tapes, the newly established bank archive contains countless historical documents on the history and activities of Bank Austria and its predecessor institutions from the founding of CA in 1855 through to 1970.

“The Bank Austria Historical Archive is one of the central repositories of information on Austria’s banking, economic and industrial history, starting in the 19th century and the first internationalisation of the world’s economy through to the time of reconstruction after 1945. This material can be used to prepare new micro- and macro-historical studies along the lines of the two volumes prepared on the history of Creditanstalt-Bankverein, Länderbank and Zentralsparkasse under the National Socialist regime by the historian’s commission that was led top US historian Gerald D. Feldman, who sadly passed away last year,” explained Oliver Rathkolb, historian and professor at the Institute of Contemporary History at the university of Vienna.

By establishing a central archive, Bank Austria is also displaying a high degree of transparency in implementing two legal requirements. One is the complete disclosure of the bank’s activities during the time of the National Socialist regime as required under a settlement reached with Austrian Holocaust victims, which has already been in fulfilment since November 2006 with the publication of the final reports of the independent Bank Austria historian’s commission and access to the research documents. The other is a preservation order issued by the Austrian State Archive in 2001 which placed records from 74 banks and companies from the period between 1933 and 1967 under protection in the public interest. The organisations named in this order include Bank Austria’s predecessor institutions.

Bank Austria: long-term dissemination of knowledge and preservation of history
The establishment of the historical archive is also tied closely to Bank Austria’s numerous sustainability activities. In times of rapid and fundamental change, the historical experiences of a company, its knowledge of its common values and the actions that it takes to preserve its own identity are of essential importance and are a key basis for enabling the bank to master future challenges.

“By setting up a historical archive, we are fulfilling a major responsibility to society and the coming generations but also towards our company, our employees and our customers and have taken a key step towards disseminating knowledge,” concluded Hampel.

The materials contained in the Bank Austria Historical Archive are undergoing constant physical organisation and are also being recorded digitally. All interested persons can view the records up to 1945 in accordance with the applicable conditions. Persons wishing to view materials in the archive must arrange an appointment in advance by telephone, e-mail or fax and must provide valid official photo identification before accessing the archive. As many historical documents contain information that is protected by the Data Protection Act and the Austrian banking secrecy laws, every visitor must sign a written non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to view any materials. 

Contact and opening hours
Bank Austria Historical Archive
Lassallestraße 1
A-1020 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (0) 50505 - 41053
Fax.: +43 (0) 50505 - 41328
Contact: Ulrike Zimmerl
E-mail: Ulrike.Zimmerl@unicreditgroup.at
Opening hours: by appointment

Press contact: Bank Austria Press Office Austria
Martin Halama, Tel. +43 (0) 50505 - 52371
E-mail: Martin.Halama@unicreditgroup.at

Printable photos are available for download  here.
The photos can be printed free of charge.