Abstract: A Hungarian Bank in New York

Susan Glanz


On May 2, 1912, the Transatlantic Trust Company was authorized to do banking business in New York. The bank was a joint venture among three Hungarian banks with the stated goal of becoming the near monopoly transmitter of remittances to Hungary. The bank was successful if measured by the loan to deposit ratio or by the growth of its assets. To achieve its goal of attracting remittance funds the bank advertised heavily in the Hungarian papers. With the outbreak of World War I advertising increased in the Hungarian papers and the bank started selling Hungarian and German War bonds. A 1916 advertisement about a German submarine landing in Baltimore and returning to Europe with remittances caught the attention of several American newspapers. The American papers reported this advertisement as a symbol of un-American activity and called attention to the bank. When in April 1917 the United States declared war against Germany the tone of the advertisements changed. When war against Austria-Hungary was declared in December 1917, the Trust began to sell U.S. Liberty Bonds as well. In July 1918 the Alien Property Custodian arrested Julius Pirnitzer, the bank's president, and two employees of the banks. The tone of the advertisements changed again, with the emphasis on fund safety. In February 1919 the Alien Property Custodian closed the bank. The paper analyzes the history of the bank and the actions of the Alien Property Custodian.