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History of two Dutch banks in Russia, during the First World War

19 November 2008

C.J.M. Scheerder, 'De Nedrus en de Holrus: de geschiedenis van twee Nederlandse banken in Rusland ten tijde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog'

Already since the eighteenth century Dutch capital poured richly into Russia. This capital flow had gained so much significance that by 1914 about twenty percent of the Dutch foreign capital that at that time was invested abroad had found its way into Russia. Mainly these investments consisted out of portfolio investments in the Russian state debt or in railway stocks that were guaranteed by the Russian state. Direct investments however formed less than five percent of all the Dutch capital invested in Russia.

Of all times it was during the years of the First World War that the boards of Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (Dutch Trading Society) and the Rotterdamsche Bankvereeniging (Rotterdam Bank Union) each decided to found their own subsidiaries in Russia, which respectively would become the Nederlandsche Bank voor Russischen Handel (Dutch Bank for Russian Trade) and the Russisch-Hollandsche Bank (Russian-Dutch Bank), who were to become known as the Nedrus and the Holrus.

Since the outbreak of the Great War, both the Dutch Trading Society and the Rotterdam Bank Union had experienced a vast increase of their assets and both banks were therefore looking for opportunities to expand abroad. One of the countries they choose was Russia, being convinced that it would experience a tremendous economic growth after the war. Indeed Russia would undergo a dramatic economic growth in the nineteen twenties and thirties, but not along the lines the boards of both Dutch banks had envisaged.

In Communist-Russia that arouse from the ashes of the Great War, there would no longer be any place for such bulwarks of Western capitalism. In less than two years after they had been established, both banks were nationalised by the Soviet government. Thereby an end came to a short but unique period in the history of the Dutch banking and the Dutch-Russian trade relations.

Last modified:31 January 2018 11.52 a.m.

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