I'm curious what was happening with people's money in banks in countries involved in World War Two. Were they frozen, lost or banks were functioning no matter who was currently controlling territory?

  • 4
    I'd imagine this depends on the country. – Semaphore Jan 13 '16 at 16:19
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    Concur with @Semaphore; this will depend on the country. I doubt there were any problems between US/UK/CA/NZ/etc. I assume that Allied banks froze Axis assets and vice versa. I further assume that Switzerland and other neutral countries maintained neutrality, although the how might be interesting. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 13 '16 at 17:05

During wars, such as World War II, banking goes on as usual with a few differences:

  • Enemy assets and bank accounts are seized; meaning if the address on the account is located in an enemy country, then the government takes the money in the account

  • Non-sovereign accounts are frozen; what this means is that if a foreign country has a sovereignty problem, then any accounts originating in that country are usually frozen until the sovereignty problem is solved; this happens whenever a country is conquered by another, for example.

  • Foreign exchange with the enemy is ended. That means you can't send money or receive money from an enemy country.

  • When a foreign country is occupied normally the local banks are shut down and the money is replaced either with that of the conquering nation or with a military scrip which is issued by the occupying army. For example, when the US occupied Okinawa the money used was a military scrip called the "B-Yen", it looked like this:

enter image description here

  • If you have a bank account in a conquered country, usually any money in that account becomes worthless, because the whole banking system of the country no longer functions. If you have gold deposits or safety boxes in a bank, however, those may be honored, at least temporarily.
  • 3
    Could you cite sources please? – user69715 Jan 13 '16 at 18:27
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    Also, were the "enemy assets" that "the government took" returned when the war was over? Or did the government keep it? – user69715 Jan 13 '16 at 18:28
  • Yes, the source of the information is Tyler Durden, Stack Exchange (2016-01-13), except for the picture of the B-Yen which is from the Wikipedia. Enemy assets belonging to individuals are almost never returned. Sometimes the loser of the war is forced to "compensate" the winners, but obviously getting a country that just lost a war to pay money is difficult. For example, during the war Germany seized assets of American companies Kodak and IBM, but then after the war the Americans seized them back again. – Tyler Durden Jan 13 '16 at 18:51

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