Besides many honorable personalities, Munich had its share of scoundrels, too. One of them was “banker” Adele Spitzeder. Learn more about this woman and her so-called “Bank of Dachau”…
Adele Spitzeder was born in 1832 in Berlin as the daughter of the Royal Bavarian opera singer Josef Spitzeder. Shortly after Adele’s birth, her parents moved to Munich, where her father died very soon and left the family (Adele, her mother and her six half-siblings) penniless. Nevertheless, the Bavarian crown supported the family and so Adele could attend expensive private schools.
She became an actress and traveled Germany for a couple of years. But it seems that this lifestyle did not appeal to her, because she returned to Munich. Here, she dwelled in a rather glamorous lifestyle. For example, she took a room in the hotel “Goldener Stern” in the city center instead of renting an apartment.
This expensive lifestyle had to be financed. Therefore, she borrowed money from a carpenter and paid him 10 percent interest per month in cash. About that episode, word spread quickly, and other craftsmen offered her loans, too. Even a large number of workers of the leather factory in Giesing gave their savings their savings to Ms. Spitzeder. Finally, some farmers even sold their farms because they believed they could live better on the financial interest. Being that successful in dealing with loans, Adele Spitzeder and her partner Emilie Stier founded a bank in 1869 which was located in the “Schönfeldstraße” and because of the many investors from the nearby city of Dachau was nicknamed “Bank of Dachau”.
Of accounting, however, neither she nor her 40 employees seemed to have any knowledge. Rumour had it that the money was kept in bags in her apartment and the deposits were only recorded in a simple register. The criticism of her business conduct intensified and in 1872, her opponents convinced several dozen customers to draw out their deposits all at once. Naturally, the bank did not survive this operation and was closed by the royal district court in Munich on November 19, 1872. 30,000 investors were affected by the bank failure.
Adele Spitzeder was sentenced in July 1873 to three years and ten months in prison for fraudulent bankruptcy, lack of accounting, waste and misappropriation of deposits.
After her release, Adele Spitzeder first went abroad, but returned under her mother´s maiden name to Munich. In 1880, she tried again to open a bank, but the plan was thwarted by the authorities. In order to earn her livelihood, Adele Vio, as she called herself now, worked as composer, singer, piano player and had readings of her memoirs, until she died of a heart attack in October 1895.