Focal themes

    For more than seven decades, KfW has been promoting the German and European economy by law. Although the economic and political conditions have changed steadily over the decades, a number of promotional topics are continuously pervading the history of KfW. The face of the promotion has changed time and again.

    The Marshall Plan and the ERP

    Rohbauten mit Werbetafeln für die Finanzierung von Bauvorhaben mit Marshallplanmitteln

    On 5 June 1947 the American Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced an economic reconstruction programme for Europe. The "European Recovery Programme", known as ERP for short, speeded up German and European reconstruction considerably.

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    Capital Market Activities and Refinancing

    Verladung einer Lok im Hafen von Rio

    Originally the allies had wanted KfW to obtain its funds on the German capital market or from the bizonal budget. However, since this was completely unrealistic at that time, it was eventually decided that KfW would use counterpart funds from the Marshall Plan for refinancing purposes.

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    Export financing

    Empfangsbereich des Haupthauses, 1972

    Export financing is one of KfW's oldest business areas. As early as 1950, KfW was tasked to finance export transactions on a medium to long-term basis. Since commercial banks at that time were only entering into short-term commitments, German systems exporters lacked suitable financing options.

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    Financial Cooperation

    eine große Gruppe von Bauarbeitern stehen um einem in Bau befindlichen Geberator eines Wasserkraftwerks

    The Financial Cooperation that KfW performs today began in 1958 with a number of separate financing activities scattered around the world. Most of these were projects that the Federal Government saw as politically expedient and commissioned KfW to implement. In the early 1960s these separate international tasks were superseded by "Capital assistance to developing countries", a major new business area that was then enshrined in the Law concerning KfW in 1961.

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    SME Promotion

    Jubelnde Menschen vor dem Brandenburger Tor nach dem Mauerfall

    When KfW began its activities it was anything but a promotional bank for small and medium-sized enterprises. Initially it focused on financing infrastructure and primary industries. As a result, in the post-war reconstruction period from 1949 to 1953 more than fifty percent of the lending volume went to electricity producers, the coal mining sector, and later on to the steel industry. The picture did not change until after the mid-1950s. KfW then increasingly began promoting SMEs, chiefly in the economically underdeveloped regions of West Germany.

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    Promoting Housing Construction

    Luftaufnahmen KfW Bankengruppe in Frankfurt/Main

    Given the catastrophic housing shortage in post-war Germany, housing construction had top priority. This is why in 1949 KfW began providing low-cost financing for housing construction.

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    Außenansicht KfW Gebäude in Frankfurt/Main

    In the 1950s the term "environmental protection" was still very largely unknown. Yet even then, KfW was already the first German promotional institution to finance environmental protection measures. Because the loans that KfW extended to the water management and agricultural sectors were largely used for sewage disposal and water pollution control.

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    'Aufbau Ost' - Reconstruction of eastern Germany

    Brandenburter Tor

    In the years since the Berlin Wall came down, people in the former GDR have put in a huge amount of effort and achieved a great deal – some of it with the help of KfW Group. Since 1990, KfW has made more than EUR 194 billion (as of August 2015) available in loans to support business start-ups, modernisation of the housing stock and rehabilitation of municipal infrastructure. Money well spent – because eastern Germany today once again boasts a healthy SME sector, attractive city centres and modern infrastructure.

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    75 years of KfW

    The transformation to a sustainable and resilient Germany has begun. KfW has been supporting the changes in the economy and society on behalf of the federal government and the federal states since 1948.

    Impressions of KfW's history

    18 November 1848 - The development of KfW Group has been closely connected to the economic development of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since its founding more than seven decades ago and according to its statutory mission, KfW has been supporting change and encouraging forward-looking ideas - in Germany, Europe and throughout the world.



    Detlev Karres

    Group Communications

    Frankfurt am Main

    Palmengartenstr. 5-9

    60325 Frankfurt am Main