German Papiermark

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German Papiermark
Mark (German)
Central bank Reichsbank
User(s)  German Empire
Germany Weimar Republic
Flag of the Free City of Danzig.svg Free City of Danzig
 1/100 Pfennig
Plural Mark
Pfennig Pfennig
Coins 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 Pfennig
1, 3, 200, 500 Mark
Banknotes 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 Mark
1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 thousand Mark
1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 million Mark
1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 billion Mark
1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 trillion Mark
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The name About this sound Papiermark  (English: paper mark, officially just Mark, sign: ) is applied to the German currency from 4 August 1914[1] when the link between the Goldmark and gold was abandoned, due to the outbreak of World War I. In particular, the name is used for the banknotes issued during the hyperinflation in Germany of 1922 and especially 1923, which was a result of the German government's decision to pay its war debt by printing banknotes.[disputed ]


From 1914, the value of the Mark fell. The rate of inflation rose following the end of World War I and reached its highest point in October 1923. The currency was stabilized in November 1923 after the announcement of the creation of the Rentenmark, although the Rentenmark did not come into circulation until 1924. When it did, it replaced the Papiermark at the rate of 1 trillion Papiermark = 1 Rentenmark. Later in 1924, the Rentenmark was replaced by the Reichsmark.

In addition to the issues of the government, emergency issues of both tokens and paper money, known as Kriegsgeld (war money) and Notgeld (emergency money), were produced by local authorities.
The Papiermark was also used in the Free City of Danzig until replaced by the Danzig Gulden in late 1923. Several coins and emergency issues in papiermark were issued by the free city.


During the war, cheaper metals were introduced for coins, including aluminium, zinc and iron, although silver ½ Mark pieces continued in production until 1919. Aluminium 1 Pfennig were produced until 1918 and the 2 Pfennig until 1916. Whilst iron 5 Pfennig, both iron and zinc 10 Pfennig and aluminium 50 Pfennig coins were issued until 1922. Aluminium 3 Mark were issued in 1922 and 1923, and aluminium 200 and 500 Mark were issued in 1923. The quality of many of these coins varied from decent to poor.

During this period, many provinces and cities also had their own corresponding coin and note issues, referred to as Notgeld currency. This came about often due to a shortage of exchangeable tender in one region or another during the war and hyperinflation periods. Some of the most memorable of these to be issued during this period came from Westfalen and featured the highest face value denominations on a coin ever, eventually reaching 50,000,000 Mark.


First World War issues[edit]

In 1914, the State Loan Office began issuing paper money known as Darlehnskassenscheine (loan fund notes). These circulated alongside the issues of the Reichsbank. Most were 1- and 2-Mark notes but there were also 5-, 20-, 50- and 100-Mark notes.

Post War issues[edit]

5 Million Mark coin would have been worth $714.29 in Jan 1923, about 1 thousandth of one cent by Oct 1923.

The victor nations in World War I decided to assess Germany for their costs of conducting the war against Germany. With no means of paying in gold or currency backed by reserves, Germany ran the presses, causing the value of the Mark to collapse.[disputed ] Many Germans literally carted wheelbarrows of cash to pay for groceries.[citation needed]

During the hyperinflation, ever higher denominations of banknotes were issued by the Reichsbank and other institutions (notably the Reichsbahn railway company). The Papiermark was produced and circulated in enormously large quantities. Before the war, the highest denomination was 1000-Mark, equivalent to approximately 50 British pounds or 238 US dollars. In early 1922, 10,000-Mark notes were introduced, followed by 100,000- and 1 million-Mark notes in February 1923. July 1923 saw notes up to 50 million-Mark, with 10 milliard (1010)-Mark notes introduced in September. The hyperinflation peaked in October 1923 and banknote denominations rose to 100 trillion (1014)-Mark. At the end of the hyperinflation, these notes were worth approximately 5 pounds or 24 dollars.

Note on numeration[edit]

In German, Milliarde is 1,000,000,000, or one thousand million, while Billion is 1,000,000,000,000, or one million million.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Knapp, George Friedrich (1924), The State Theory of Money, Macmillan and Company, pp. vxi 


External links[edit]

Preceded by:
Currency of Germany
1914 – 1923
Succeeded by:
Reason: inflation
Ratio: 1 Rentenmark = 1,000,000,000 Papiermark, and 4.2 Rentenmark = US$1