On June 27, 1922, the merchants, industrialists and high-ranking civil servants of Hamburg took up an idea from the banker Max M. Warburg to found the Übersee Club. World War I had just ended and the nation's economy was in dire straits. The combined burden of territorial losses and reparation payments imposed in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles meant that Germany was struggling to get back on its feet. As an organisation spanning commerce and academia, i.e. both entrepreneurs and prominent thinkers, the club's primary goal was to encourage joint action by politicians and business leaders aimed at rebuilding the international economy. A second goal anchored in its charter was to develop and expand Hamburg's traditional ties with the world's markets.
The club survived until the start of the 1930s. But then insurmountable financial difficulties – and the rise of National Socialism which rendered cosmopolitan organisations unsustainable – forced it to cease operation in 1934.
In 1948, with World War II over, the Übersee Club rose from the ashes – reconstituted by a group of Hamburg merchants with the same objectives as in 1922. The reopening coincided with the introduction of the new West German currency – the Deutschmark – which also marked the start of a new economy.