German reichsmark

German reichsmark

Overview
The Reichsmark was the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.

The Reichsmark was introduced in 1924 as a permanent replacement for the Papiermark
German papiermark
The name Papiermark is applied to the German currency from the 4th August 1914 when the link between the Mark and gold was abandoned, due to the outbreak of World War I...

. This was necessary due to the 1920s German inflation which had reached its peak in 1923. The exchange rate between the old Papiermark and the Reichsmark was 1 ℛℳ = 1012 Papiermark (one "trillion" in US English, one "billion" in British English, German and other European languages, see long and short scales
Long and short scales
The long and short scales are two of several different large-number naming systems used throughout the world for integer powers of ten. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries use the short scale...

).
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Encyclopedia
The Reichsmark was the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.

History


The Reichsmark was introduced in 1924 as a permanent replacement for the Papiermark
German papiermark
The name Papiermark is applied to the German currency from the 4th August 1914 when the link between the Mark and gold was abandoned, due to the outbreak of World War I...

. This was necessary due to the 1920s German inflation which had reached its peak in 1923. The exchange rate between the old Papiermark and the Reichsmark was 1 ℛℳ = 1012 Papiermark (one "trillion" in US English, one "billion" in British English, German and other European languages, see long and short scales
Long and short scales
The long and short scales are two of several different large-number naming systems used throughout the world for integer powers of ten. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries use the short scale...

). To stabilize the economy and to smooth the transition, the Papiermark was not directly replaced by the Reichsmark, but by the Rentenmark
German rentenmark
The Rentenmark was a currency issued on 15 November 1923 to stop the hyperinflation of 1922 and 1923 in Germany. It was subdivided into 100 Rentenpfennig.-History:...

, an interim currency backed by the Deutsche Rentenbank, owning industrial and agricultural real estate assets. The Reichsmark was put on the gold standard
Gold standard
The gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed mass of gold. There are distinct kinds of gold standard...

 at the rate previously used by the Goldmark
German gold mark
The Goldmark was the currency used in the German Empire from 1873 to 1914.-History:Before unification, the different German states issued a variety of different currencies, though most were linked to the Vereinsthaler, a silver coin containing 16⅔ grams of pure silver...

, with the U.S. dollar worth 4.2 ℛℳ.

During the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Germany established fixed exchange rates between the Reichsmark and the currencies of the occupied and allied countries, often set so as to give the Germans economic benefits. The rates were as follows:
Currency Date set Value in ℛℳ
Belgian franc May 1940 0.1
July 1940 0.08
Bohemian and Moravian koruna
Bohemian and Moravian koruna
The koruna, known as the Protectorate crown , was the currency of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia between 1939 and 1945. It was subdivided into 100 haléřů.-History:...

 
1939 0.1
Bulgarian lev
Bulgarian lev
The lev is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki . In archaic Bulgarian the word "lev" meant "lion".It is speculated that Bulgaria, as a member of the European Union will adopt the Euro in 2015 .- First lev, 1881–1952 :...

 
1940 0.03
Danish krone
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

 
1940 1
French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

 
May 1940 0.05
Italian lira
Italian lira
The lira was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro...

 
1943 0.1
Luxembourg franc  May 1940 0.25
July 1940 0.1
Dutch Guilder  May 10, 1940 1.5
July 17, 1940 1.327
Norwegian krone
Norwegian krone
The krone is the currency of Norway and its dependent territories. The plural form is kroner . It is subdivided into 100 øre. The ISO 4217 code is NOK, although the common local abbreviation is kr. The name translates into English as "crown"...

 
1940 0.6
? 0.57
Polish złoty  1939 0.5
Pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

 (Channel Islands
Occupation of the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany for much of World War II, from 30 June 1940 until the liberation on 9 May 1945. The Channel Islands are two British Crown dependencies and include the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey as well as the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark...

)
1940 5 (initially)
Independent State of Croatia kuna
Independent State of Croatia kuna
The kuna was the currency of the Independent State of Croatia in the period between 1941 and 1945 during World War II. The word "kuna" means "marten" in Croatian and the same word is used for the current Croatian kuna currency. This kuna was subdivided into 100 banica...

 
April 1941 0.05
Slovak koruna
Slovak koruna
In 1993, coins were introduced in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 haliers, 1, 2, 5 and 10 korunas. The 10 and 20 halier coins were taken out of circulation on 31 December 2003....

 
1939 0.1
October 1, 1940 0.086
Ukrainian karbovanets
Ukrainian karbovanets
The karbovanets has been a distinct unit of currency in Ukraine during three separate periods. The name is also used in the Ukrainian language for the Imperial ruble and the Soviet ruble, but not for the modern Russian ruble....

 
1942 0.1


After the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Reichsmark continued to circulate in Germany, with new banknotes printed in the U.S. and U.S.S.R. as well as coins. The Reichsmark was replaced in June 1948 by the Deutsche Mark
German mark
The Deutsche Mark |mark]], abbreviated "DM") was the official currency of West Germany and Germany until the adoption of the euro in 2002. It is commonly called the "Deutschmark" in English but not in German. Germans often say "Mark" or "D-Mark"...

 in West Germany and later in the same year by the East German Mark
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

 (colloquially also "Ostmark", since 1968 officially "Mark der DDR") in East Germany.

Coins



In 1924, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig, and 1 and 3 Mark (not Reichsmark). The 1 and 2 Reichspfennig were struck in bronze, with the 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig in aluminium-bronze and the two highest denominations in .500 fine silver. In 1925, .500 fine silver 1 and 2 Reichsmark coins were introduced for circulation, along with the first commemorative 3 and 5 Reichsmark coins. In 1927, nickel 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced along with regular-type 5 Reichsmark coins, followed by the 3 Reichsmark coin in 1931.

4 Reichspfennig coins were issued in 1932 as part of a failed attempt by the Reichskanzler Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 to reduce prices through use of 4 Reichspfennig pieces instead of 5 Reichspfennig coins. Known as the Brüningtaler or Armer Heinrich ("poor Heinrich"), they were demonetized the following year. See Brüningtaler .

The quality of the Reichsmark coins decreased more and more towards the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and misprints happened more frequently. This led to an increase in counterfeiting of money.

Production of silver 1 Reichsmark coins ended in 1927. In 1933, nickel 1 Reichsmark coins were introduced, and new silver 2 and 5 Reichsmark coins were introduced which were smaller but struck in .625 and .900 fineness so as to maintain the amount of silver. Production of the 3 Reichsmark coin ceased altogether. In 1935, aluminium 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced, initially for just the one year. The nickel coins continued to be produced up to 1939. From 1936 on, all coins except the 1 Reichsmark and the first version (1935–36) of the 5 Reichsmark coin (bearing the image of the late Reichspräsident
Reichspräsident
The Reichspräsident was the German head of state under the Weimar constitution, which was officially in force from 1919 to 1945. In English he was usually simply referred to as the President of Germany...

 Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

) bore the Nazi insignia.

During World War II, bronze and aluminium-bronze coins were replaced by zinc and aluminium, with the 2 Reichspfennig and the 1, 2 and 5 Reichsmark coins no longer issued. Aluminium 50 Reichspfennig coins were reintroduced to replace the nickel versions. This time around they had a longer run, being produced from 1939 - 1944. Lower denominations were produced in zinc from 1940 onwards. The last production of coins bearing the swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 was in 1944 (1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig) and 1945 (1 and 10 Reichspfennig only).

After the war, the Allies issued coins in relatively small numbers between 1945 and 1948:
  • 1945-46: 1 and 10 Reichspfennig
  • 1947-48: 5 and 10 Reichspfennig


These coins were issued with designs very similar to those minted in 1944-45, with the exception that the swastika was removed from beneath the eagle on the reverse.

Banknotes


The first Reichsmark banknotes were introduced by the Reichsbank
Reichsbank
The Reichsbank was the central bank of Germany from 1876 until 1945. It was founded on 1 January 1876 . The Reichsbank was a privately owned central bank of Prussia, under close control by the Reich government. Its first president was Hermann von Dechend...

 and state banks such as those of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 and Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

. The first Reichsbank issue of 1924 came in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Reichsmark. This was followed by a second issue in the same denominations, dated between 1929 and 1936. A 20 Reichsmark note was introduced in 1939, using a design taken from an unissued Austrian 100 schilling banknote type. 5 Reichsmark notes were issued in 1942. Throughout this period, the Rentenbank also issued banknotes denominated in Rentenmark, mostly in low denominations.

Following their occupation of Germany, the Allies issued banknotes dated 1944. These were printed in similar colours with different sizes for groups of denominations. Notes were issued for ½, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Mark (not Reichsmark). The issuer was the Alliierte Militärbehörde ("Allied military authorities") with In Umlauf gesetzt in Deutschland ("in legal circulation in Germany") printed on the obverse.

In 1947 Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

 issued 5 and 10 Pfennig notes with Geldschein on them.

Occupation Reichsmark



Coins and banknotes for circulation in the occupied territories during the war were issued by the Reichskreditkassen. Holed, zinc coins in 5 and 10 Reichspfennig denominations were struck in 1940 and 1941. Banknotes were issued between 1939 and 1945 in denominations of 50 Reichspfennig, 1, 2, 5, 20 and 50 Reichsmark. These served as legal tender alongside the currency of the occupied countries.

Military Reichsmark currency



Special issues of Reichsmark currency were issued for use by the German Armed Forces
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 from 1942-1944. The first issue was denominated in 1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig and 1 Reichsmark, but was valued at 1 military Reichspfennig = 10 German Reichspfennig. This series was unifaced. The second issue of 1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichsmark were equal in value to the German Reichsmark and was printed on both sides.

The 5 Mark note pictured, front and back, is allied military currency ("AMC") printed at Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company in Boston for occupied Germany. There have been different AMCs for all freed parts of europe.

Concentration camp and POW Reichsmark currency



Various special issues of Reichsmark currency were issued for use in concentration and prisoner of war (POW) camps. None was legal tender in Germany itself.

External links