German Inflationary Notgeld 1922-1923
Valuing your Notes
Notgeld Images
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German Inflationary Notgeld 1922-1923

Reichsbahn Stuttgart 5 Billionen Mark

After WWI, Germany was plunged into one of the worst inflations ever to hit a western country as the government struggled with the truly massive punitive damages demanded by the Treaty of Versailles. During this brief period of hyper-inflation, people who did not convert their savings into tangible assets lost them completely . Many bank accounts were closed because even large pre-war sums of 100,000 Marks were longer worth even the price of a postage stamp. The middle class was by and large reduced to poverty, theft and petty crime soared, pensions became worthless and many people starved to death.

The stable Rentenmark was introduced in November 1923 in a reform by Hjalmar Schacht to replace the worthless Reichsmark. The Reichsmark was re-introduced the next year in a stabilised form and remained in that form until the introduction of the Deutsche Mark in 1948. (Note that Hitler had no involvement whatsoever over any of these events and it is sad that even some historians confuse Schacht's tenure as President of the Reichsbank in 1923 during the currency reform with his reappointment to that position many years later under Hitler.)

However an interesting by-product of this period was the rich variety of banknotes churned out from each town, displaying values of anything up to 100,000,000,000,000 marks. This web site is devoted to these incredibly high-value banknotes.

There were two main types of inflationary banknote printed. Standard Reichsbank notes, and what is known as notgeld (a German word meaning "emergency money"). The Reichsbank notes were issued by the central bank in Berlin, while notgeld was printed by city banks, small towns, all manner of public bodies, the German railway departments and even private companies.

The good thing about collecting German money from this period is that while some notes can be priced into the thousands of dollars, you can still pick up many of the commonest Reichsbank notes in pristine condition for just a few dollars. (For examples of common Reichsbank notes, check Ron Wise's currency site.)



Valuing your Notgeld

The Images

What I've tried to do here is to represent a pretty wide range of towns with notes that are more interesting or less commonly seen - with a preference for higher denominations. Most notes are from my own personal collection, but many thanks go to Juergen Spiegel, Frederick Fleischer, Marc Plessa, Franz von Klimstein and everyone who has kindly provided scans.

* Note that in German "eine Milliarde" means 1,000,000,000 (an American billion) and "eine Billion" means 1,000,000,000,000 (an American trillion).

Also plenty of stamps were issued during the inflation for values up to 50 Milliarden Mark. These can be bought very cheaply and often cost as little as 10 cents each.

  • Inflationary Stamps An assortment of inflationary stamps (50k)

  • References

    Related sites (English language)

    Related sites (German language)

    If you have any pictures of high-denomination German notgeld you think might look good, please email me and let me know!

    Richard Holmes

    Please feel free to use any information or pictures contained in these pages as long as you credit the source and, if on the web, link back to this page.

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    This page was last updated in February 2007.  To get in contact, click here.