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Spišská úverná banka, Levoča

The financial institution was established in 1869 under the name Spišská úverná a priemyselná banka (Zipser Credit- und Gewerbebank) (Spiš Credit and Industrial Bank), joint stock company in Levoča. One of its founders was Count Albín Csáky who was also the first chairman of its administration. The minutes of the administrative board meetings were taken first in German. The first members of the board, which was stable for decades, were Arthur Probstner, Leopold Spitz, Gustáv Görgey, Guido Prihradny, Alexander Breuer and Carl Seeliger. Gustáv Hoepfner was its long-term director (1872 – 1902), and after his death, his son Gustáv Hoepfner jr. replaced him and held the position until his death in 1932. In the oldest preserved annual report from 1876, a share capital of 200 thousand guldens is reported, which was a large amount compared with other local banks. At that time, the bank was renamed to Spišská úverná banka a ústredná sporiteľňa, a. s. (Zipser Creditbank- und Central – Sparkasse, A. G.). (Spiš Credit Bank and Central Savings Bank, joint stock company).

Spišská úverná banka, Levoča - kolonáda a letná reštaurácia, návrh projektu od Edmunda Lechnera a Júliusa Pártosa z roku 1885The bank accepted deposits and provided bills of credit and mortgage loans, but it mainly invested in firms and enterprises in the neighbourhood and it built its own spa resort. In 1883, it rented Starý Smokovec from the forest owners of Müllbach (Mlynica). It gradually built a spa with numerous spa houses and hotels. The centrepiece was the Grand Hotel and among 35 other buildings there were the villas Adria, Bellevue, Flóra, Švajčiarsky dom (Swiss House), Hoepfnerov dom (Hoepfner’s House) and the spa house Tatra.

For some time, it also rented Tatranská Lomnica, where its assets amounted to twice its share capital, which at that time reached 400 thousand Austro-Hungarian crowns (K). The bank also invested in short-distance railways, for example, the local railway in the Levoča valley, the local railway in Poprad and the local railway between Kežmarok and Spišská Belá. Valuable plans and sketches of numerous such projects, buildings and roads as well as the interior of hotels have been preserved in the archival fonds.

The financial institution maintained good relations with other banks, for example, with Kežmarská sporiteľňa (later called Spišská banka, joint stock company in Kežmarok), Spišskonovoveská sporiteľňa and numerous banks in Budapest. At the end of the 19th century, it invested in the steam brewery in Poprad and the Krompašsko-hornádske železiarne (an ironworks).

The bank could not avoid the effects of the First World War. It tried to profit by, for example, responding to a request of the military headquarters in Košice and letting out the Smokovec spa to Austro-Hungarian soldiers on leave in 1915.

The financial institution was renamed Spišská úverná banka, účastinná spoločnosť so sídlom v Levoči (Spiš Credit Bank, joint stock company registered in Levoča) on 20 June 1921. Its share capital amounted to 2.4 million Czechoslovak crowns (Kč) in 1931. The bank was managed by retired senior government officials, among them a senior political official, senior financial advisor, doctors, lawyers and landowners. During the entire existence of the bank, it had a close cooperation with the noble family Csáky and in 1939, Michal Csáky, a nephew of its first chairman, became a member of the administrative board.

After the establishment of the Slovak State, the bank operated as a bank for the Hungarian minority in Slovakia. While final accounts for the years 1938 – 1940 reported a very low profit, it tripled in the years 1942 – 1943 and in the case of Starý Smokovec spa it was even thirty times higher. The clients of the spa included mainly wealthy Hungarian businessmen. After the Second World War, the Executive Authority for Finance placed the bank in temporary administration on 26 June 1945. Decree No 108 of the President of the Republic of 25 October 1945 on the confiscation of enemy property included Spišská úverná banka in Levoča in the liquidated confiscated property. At that time, the bank was in a rather bad condition. The loss caused by the war amounted to 2.76 million Slovak crowns (Ks). More than Ks 400,000 had been taken from the banks in Levoča and Starý Smokovec by the Red Army as spoils of war together with nearly the same amount in securities deposited in Bratislavská prvá sporivá banka in Bratislava, and with surpluses which were also deposited in that bank and in Nemecká (Bratislavská) obchodná a úverná banka in Bratislava amounting in total to Ks 2 million. In April 1945, the NKVD (Russian secret service) led away the bank's director Artur Polnisch. The biggest debtors, landowners, tradesmen and noblemen from Spiš, for example, Michal Csáky of Bijacovce and Ákos Wieland of Markušovce, escaped the approaching front line. The temporary administration stole a great part of supplies and equipment from the spa in Starý Smokovec. The land in Starý Smokovec originally rented from the forest owners of Mlynica municipality was nationalised for being property of German nationals. On 17 March 1946 the bank came under national administration and was to be liquidated by the Regional Liquidation Office in Poprad. The spa in Starý Smokovec was let out to the Slovak Hotel joint-stock company on 15 December 1947. The activity of the Regional Liquidation Office was stopped on 30 June 1949 and by notice of the Executive Authority for finance No 7709/49-VI/18 the liquidation was assigned to Slovenská Tatra banka in Bratislava. Under a Decree of the Ministry of Finance, however, the bank merged by universal succession with Slovenská všeobecná úverná banka on 22 January 1951 and then it was deleted from the Companies Register. Slovenská všeobecná úverná banka transferred all its liabilities and claims to Štátna banka československá by universal succession on 15 November 1951.

The documents of Spišská úverná banka, Levoča were deposited in the corporate archives of Štátna banka československá in Spišská Nová Ves until 1962 when the Regional branch of Štátna banka československá ordered their relocation to its archives in Košice, where the documents concerning the administration of the spa in Starý Smokovec and Tatranská Lomnica from the State Archives’ branch in Levoča were added to them at the beginning of 1964. The remaining documents were located in the archives of Štátna banka československá in Bratislava, where they were moved in 1949 by the liquidator of the bank. In 1995 the documents were moved from Košice to the Archives of Národná banka Slovenska located at 27 Krajná Street in Bratislava and in 2003 to the premises of the Archives of Národná banka Slovenska at 8 Cukrová Street.

The inventory for the documents deposited in Košice was prepared in the archives of Štátna banka československá in 1967. It was checked and amended in 2015. The preserved archival documents include files and books, and the most valuable part of them is the technical documentation on the hotels in the High Tatras.

Last updated: Monday, September 16, 2019