We study the social structure of ownership of German joint-stock firms covering the period 1869 to 1945 based on a random sample of attendance lists of general meetings. We confirm previous research findings based on smaller samples that despite several changes in the economic and political environment, the majority of shares of the attendees of the general meetings remained firmly in the hands of a few male and mostly inside investors. Moreover, we closely investigate the socio-economic characteristics of the shareholders. We do occasionally find investors from lower social classes and women, but their share of votes was negligible. Adding to the discussion of whether banks strongly monitored and controlled German industrial firms, we aim to track their impact at the meetings. In about 30 per cent of the meetings, a banker or bank was the most influential shareholder and in more than 50 per cent of the meetings a banker or bank was among the three largest shareholders, remarkably without necessarily owning the shares themselves. Although we cannot evaluate whether the banks used this power to pursue their targets, they certainly were in a position to do so.