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World War II

Allianz's business activities in World War II
Insurance Adapts to the War
After Germany overran Poland in 1939, the business of the insurance sector became characterized by the risks associated with the war. Doing business in wartime meant obeying the principle of "minimizing new dangers and taking maximum advantage of new business opportunities." The repercussions of the war were detrimental to business as a whole and at the end of the war, Allianz was on the brink of ruin. Even so, until 1943 the company had managed to increase its profits by a considerable margin.

The most important and profitable lines of business were marine, construction, industrial fire, and life insurance. In order to meet the rising demands of policyholders, insurance pools were formed that covered major war-related risks. Material damage that resulted directly from hostilities was not covered. Furthermore, supplementary premiums were charged. Life insurance carriers introduced an allocation system and individual risk surcharges.

In this way, Allianz was able to keep its earnings stable until around 1943, although the number of war dead for whom life insurance benefits had to be paid increased more than fourfold in the period from 1941 to 1943.
Schoolchildren’s calendar issued by Allianz Leben, 1940-41
Schoolchildren’s calendar issued by Allianz Leben, 1940-41
Definitions
With its invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Germany unleashed the Second World War. Poland was destroyed not only as a military force but as a national entity. The territory of the Polish state was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union. Parts of occupied Poland were formally annexed. Several districts in central Poland were grouped together to form the so-called "Generalgouvernement" and placed under German civilian administration. Some six million Polish citizens perished during the German occupation.
Chronicle
  • German troops invade Czechoslovakia. Establishment of Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia.
  • Non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Germany ("Hitler-Stalin Pakt").
  • Germany invades Poland and starts World War II.
Business Across Occupied Europe
The occupying regimes set up by Germany differed fundamentally in the various occupied regions of Europe. Whereas in Western Europe German rule was at least to some extent "civilized," barbaric tyranny was common practice in the East.

The nature of the occupation policy and the ideological attitude toward the subjugated peoples also influenced the work of the insurance companies operating locally. Whereas in the western occupied countries Allianz tended to exercise restraint, in eastern Europe it was a different matter.

In the Polish territories of Upper Silesia, Poznan, and Gdansk, which were annexed by Germany, Polish and British insurance policies were transferred to German companies (including Allianz) for fiduciary administration.
Title page of Allianz Zeitung at the outbreak of war, 1939 showing occupied Poland
Title page of Allianz Zeitung at the outbreak of war, 1939 showing occupied Poland
Definitions
With its invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Germany unleashed the Second World War. Poland was destroyed not only as a military force but as a national entity. The territory of the Polish state was partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union. Parts of occupied Poland were formally annexed. Several districts in central Poland were grouped together to form the so-called "Generalgouvernement" and placed under German civilian administration. Some six million Polish citizens perished during the German occupation.
Chronicle
  • German forces continue their conquests in Europe: Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, and France capitulate.
  • Establishment of the first supervised Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland.
  • The German air forces start the Battle of Britain.
  • Establishment of the ghetto of Warsaw.
The Nazi-Party as a Client
As a result of its power, its many millions of members, and its considerable wealth, the Nazi-party and its numerous sections and subdivisions constituted a key economic factor in Germany. For industry, they were important customers. This was also true for Allianz.

Party entities such as the National Socialist Women's Organization, the Federation of German Police, and the National Socialist Teachers' Federation took out personal accident, funeral-expense, or life insurance with Allianz. Most of these  were group policies between the organizations, who acted as agents between their members or employees and Allianz. In this way, the company gained considerable new customer groups.
Group Combined Term and Funeral Expense insurance with Kameradschaftsbund Deutscher Polizeibeamten (German police force comrades' association)
Definitions
The "National Socialist German Workers Party" was the party of Adolf Hitler. It was founded in 1920 and was the only political party permitted in Germany after the Nazis seized power in 1933. Among the defining features of its ideology were racism, anti-semitism, opposition to democracy, and aggressive territorial expansion. It grew from a splinter group to a mass-based organization with 8.5 million members.
Group insurance policies are contracts which an insurance company has signed with an organization or firm and which regulate uniform insurance conditions for the organization's members or the firm's employees. Allianz concluded such contracts with the Nazi Teachers Federation and the Nazi War Victims Relief Organization.
Max Beier: Close Ties Between Business and SS
As of 1940, Allianz cultivated business relations with enterprises belonging to the SS. An important role was played in this process by individuals such as Max Beier (1889-1945). Beier was a successful sub-director of Allianz's Berlin regional office and had close ties to the SS. He acquired considerable business in connection with the insurance of facilities of Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW), which was part of the SS-Wirtschaftsbetriebe (SS commercial enterprises) conglomerate.

Allianz sold fire and marine insurance policies to SS-Wirtschaftsbetriebe to cover buildings and goods belonging to the various SS manufacturing facilities located in concentration camps. In most cases, Allianz transacted this business as a member of a consortium made up of a number of insurance companies.

Representatives of the insurance company were granted access to concentration camps in individual cases. For example, in 1940 Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke granted Max Beier access to the Dachau concentration camp in order to inspect the camp's manufacturing facilities prior to drawing up the terms and conditions of a fire-insurance policy.
Max Beier (1889-1945), Deputy Director of Allianz’s Berlin office
Max Beier (1889-1945), Deputy Director of Allianz’s Berlin office
Definitions
The SS, or Schutzstaffel ("Protective Echelon"), was a paramilitary corps of the National Socialist Party. The SS regarded itself as an élite military unit. Under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler, it emerged as the key instrument of force and terror in the Nazi régime. It assimilated the powers of the police, assumed sole responsibility for the system of concentration camps, and became the nerve-center for the extermination of European Jews. The SS was declared a "criminal organization" at the Nuremberg trials.
The German Armaments Works, or Deutsche Ausrüstungs Werke (DAW), was one of the SS's business enterprises. Some of its workshops were located in the Dachau, Buchenwald, Lublin, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. During the war, when the DAW's mission was redefined, inmates were forced to carry out primarily woodworking and blacksmithing tasks.
Deputy director of Allianz's Berlin office who maintained close contacts with the SS. Beier acquisitioned large insurance contracts for facilities belonging to the German Armaments Works (DAW), one of the SS's business enterprises.

Anja Rechenberg
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