The Federal Ministry of Finance (German: Bundesministerium der Finanzen), abbreviated BMF, is the cabinet-level finance ministry of Germany, with its seat at the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in Berlin and a secondary office in Bonn. The current Federal Minister of Finance is Olaf Scholz (SPD).
In German politics, the Ministry of Finance beside the Interior, Foreign, Justice and Defence ministries is counted as one of the "classical portfolios" (denoted by the definite article der), which were also part of the first German government under Otto von Bismarck following the Unification of 1871.
Fiscal policy in the German Empire was predominantly the domain of the various states responsible for all direct taxation according to the 1833 Zollverein treaties. The federal government merely received indirect contributions from the states. Matters of fiscal policy at the federal level initially was the exclusive responsibility of the German Chancellery under Otto von Bismarck. However, in 1877 a special finance department was established, which with effect from 14 July 1879 was separated from the chancellery as the Imperial Treasury (Reichsschatzamt), a federal agency in its own right. With its seat vis-à-vis on Wilhelmplatz in Berlin, it was first headed by a subsecretary, and from 1880 by a Secretary of State only answerable to the chancellor.
After World War I, the newly established Weimar Republic had to face huge reparations and a fiscal emergency. To cope with the implications, the former Reichsschatzamt in 1919 was re-organised as a federal ministry, the Reichsministerium der Finanzen, as supreme financial authority headed by a federal minister. Besides a Reich Treasury Ministry (Reichsschatzministerium) was established for the administration of the federal property, both agencies were merged in 1923.
Already in the German cabinet of Chancellor Franz von Papen, Undersecretary Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk was appointed Finance Minister in 1932, an office he held throughout the Nazi era until 1945. The ministry played a vital role in financing the German re-armament, in the "Aryanization" of Jewish property ("Reich Flight Tax"), German war economy, and the plundering of occupied countries in World War II. The budget deficit had already reached heady heights on the eve of the war, aggrandised by hidden Mefo and Oeffa bill financing. In turn, saving banks and credit institutions were obliged to sign war bonds while price stability was enforced by government intervention and the German public was called up to bank surplus money.
After World War II the ministry was re-established in 1949 and renamed the West German Bundesministerium der Finanzen. Since 1999, the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus (former Air Ministry Building) in Berlin has been the headquarters of the ministry.
The Ministry of Finance in Berlin in the 1930s' and 1940s' was responsible for the plunder of Jewish assets throughout Europe. After Germany took over Austria on March 12th, 1938 every Jewish family in Austria received from the Ministry of Finance in Berlin, a form called "Verzeichnis uber das Vermogen von Juden nach dem Stand von 27 April, 1938." All Jewish households had to list the value of all their assets including silver, gold, real estate, bank accounts, businesses / inventories and jewelry.This even included silverware such as knives, forks and spoons. In addition all debts owed to Aryan Germans also had to be listed. On the form Austrian Jews were warned that they had to complete these documents by June 30th, 1938 or risk serious punishment such as imprisonment. These forms had to be mailed back to the Finanzamt (tax authority) in Berlin.