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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deutsche Reveals Nazi Ties

BERLIN -- Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, said Thursday that newly discovered files from Eastern Europe show the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz was built with loans from its Polish branch.

Deutsche Bank officials were "extremely shocked'' and immediately decided to turn the papers over to a commission of independent historians it appointed last year to research the bank's Nazi past.

"We deeply regret this but recognize our responsibility to deal with these things openly,'' said Walter Schumacher, spokesman for the Frankfurt-based bank. "We don't want to keep them from the public.''

The revelation comes as Deutsche Bank faces billions of dollars of claims by Holocaust victims accusing it of profiting from gold and other assets looted from concentration camp victims during World War II.

The suits could also delay regulatory approval of Deutsche Bank's planned $10.1 billion acquisition of U.S.-based Bankers Trust Corp.

Schumacher said he wasn't sure how the files would affect talks aimed at settling the suits. "How that will concretely play out, we'll have to see,'' he said.

But he said the bank still expected to be able to seal its merger with Bankers Trust "in the second quarter of 1999.''

Schumacher said the documents were part of vast caches of files that had been locked up behind the Iron Curtain until the end of the Cold War and were just pulled together over the past year. Among them were loan papers from the Deutsche Bank office in occupied Katowice, Poland. "They were loans related to construction companies that built Auschwitz and were financed through the Deutsche Bank," the spokesman said.

Schumacher said he could not say how much money the loans involved, but that "these employees, the head of these branches, knew with certainty what was happening there'' at Auschwitz when they approved the loans.