notgeld alt gaarz

Early on in the war small-denomination Reichsmark coins began to disappear rapidly, as metal was needed for other purposes. By 1919 all the low-value denominations had vanished. Enter the ersatz Mark and the ersatz pfennig, usually made not from metal, but from paper.  It was called Notgeld — emergency money… [A]s there was no longer an effective national currency for the lower denominations, every town and city had to make its own… Looking through these notes is like flicking through a travelogue of Germany, each town presenting its distinctive aspect most likely to appeal to the curiosity of visitors and the pride of the local inhabitants… They present a remarkable survey of the public mood in the years 1919-23, as the Weimar Republic struggled into life… There is a note from Hamburg and Bremen nostalgically showing Bismarck and the lost German colonies in Africa… There are nasty anti-Jewish jokes, disturbing hints of popular prejudice, and much, much more… Intriguingly, in yet another demonstration of regional diversity, not all Notgeld is paper. In Meissen and Dresden the Notgeld was made out of porcelain (needless to say, it rapidly became a collector’s item); in Bielefeld, the great textile centre, it was linen or silk, and inevitably, in some places, it was a piece of sausage.

Neil MacGregor, “Germany: Memories of a Nation”.


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