In this paper, we investigate the claim that German banks are special compared to banks in other industrialised economies. We show that banks are of particular importance to the German economy?as financial intermediary, as lender to the corporate sector, and as part of the corporate governance system. Further, German banks are supervised by two supervisory institutions and have the highest deposit insurance in the world. And last but not least, German banks are numerous, perform poorly, and are part of a historically grown three-pillar system. Hence, German banks can indeed be characterised as unique when compared to other industrialised economies.