The Belle Époque ended in the catastrophe that was World War One. Europe was plunged into war and a whole generation of men died in the senseless trench warfare on the battlegrounds in Verdun, Ypres and on the Somme river. Back home, this manpower was missing in all areas of the economy. Women stepped in to assume the men's jobs as postmen, tram drivers, in factories and as employees of insurance companies. ADVV decided to abolish its "young ladies' department". Instead, women were working side-by-side with the few male colleagues that remained in the specialist departments. Allianz, which was established in 1890, had done without women altogether up until World War One.
Although the company had witnessed rapid growth in premium income over a period of many years, the company preserved traditional work methods of the 19th century up until the end of World War One. And in areas where office machines were not being introduced, women were seen as being dispensable. We do not know whether the lack of enthusiasm for modernization and rationalization was due to opposition from Allianz's male "officials" – who quite rightly feared that women would push salary levels down – or whether Allianz's management team, led by Paul von der Nahmer, did not deem such moves to be important. World War One, however, finally forced Allianz, too, to recruit women. After all, out of the 792 employees that Allianz had in 1914, 667 of them were gradually sent off to fight in the war. And it was women who stepped in to replace them.