Germany’s annexation of the Alsace-Lorraine region weakened the rural population. At the time, Alsace was a farming region dominated by small landowners whose situation had deteriorated due to several factors: poor harvests, no access to the French market, lack of cash. Given their short terms and the difficulty of providing collateral, the traditional bank loans of the time did not respond to farmers’ needs and they were often forced to resort to moneylenders.

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The sub-prefect of Strasbourg-Campagne was therefore looking for other solutions. He was acquainted with Raiffeisen and encouraged the introduction of his system in the Alsace-Lorraine region. A meeting, where Raiffeisen was represented by his colleague Martin Fassbender, was held in Brumath in February 1882. The development of the Raiffeisen movement to the West of the Rhine can be traced back to this moment.

The first Crédit Mutuel bank, which still exists, was set up on February 27, 1882 by 16 residents of La Wantzenau, a small town near Strasbourg. The movement then spread very swiftly: from 17 such banks in Alsace at the end of 1882, the number had grown to 127 just ten years later. In 1893, Crédit Mutuel banks also began to be founded in neighboring Lorraine.

The Raiffeisen movement spread throughout the two regions, with the Church playing an important role, which explains why some banks bear the name of their local parish, such as Caisse Saint-Jean in Strasbourg, Caisse Sainte-Marie and Caisse Saint-Joseph in Mulhouse, etc. At the start of the 20th century, the Raiffeisen movement had 395 banks and more than 40,000 members in Alsace and Lorraine.

February 27, 1882

The first Crédit Mutuel bank was set up in La Wantzenau.