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Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 1 million mark

Object | Accession Number: 2003.413.102

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    Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 1 million mark

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    Brief Narrative
    Reichsbank note, valued at 1 million marks, distributed in Germany from August to November 1923. German efforts to finance World War I sent the nation into debt. Following their defeat, the Treaty of Versailles obligated Germany to pay reparations to several countries, which increased the nation’s financial struggles. The German government attempted to solve this problem by printing more money, which led to severe inflation. The inflation grew to critical levels between 1922 and1923, when the exchange rate of the mark to the United States dollar went from 2,000 marks per dollar to well over a million in a matter of months. The government printed higher and higher denominations, but was unable to keep up with the plunging rates. Germans began using the worthless bills as kindling, wallpaper, and children’s crafts. The emerging National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party frequently used the bills to their advantage, writing anti-Semitic messages on them, which blamed Jews for Germany’s financial problems. In order to stabilize the economy, the German government established the Rentenbank. The new Minister of Finance, Hans Luther, created the Rentenmark, which was backed by mortgages on all real property in Germany, rather than gold. The Rentenmark was valued at 4.2 marks to one U.S. dollar, and its introduction on November 16, 1923, successfully ended the inflation crisis. Despite this, the Nazi Party continued to use people’s residual economic fears as a propaganda tool to gain power, eventually leading to Adolf Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933.
    issue:  1923 August 09
    publication/distribution:  1923 August 09-1923 November 16
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joel Forman
    face, left of center, printed, black ink : Reichsbanknote / Eine Million / Mark / zahlt die Reichsbankhauptkasse in Berlin / gegen diese Banknote dem Einlieferer. Vom / 1. September 1923 ab kann diese Banknote / aufgerufen und unter Umtausch gegen andere / gestezliche Zahlungsmittel eingezogen werden / Berlin, den 9. August 1923 / Reichsbankdirektorium / (12 illegible signatures) [Reichsbank note One million mark The Reichsbank’s head office in Berlin pays the consignor against this banknote. From September 1, 1923 this banknote can be summoned and confiscated in exchange for other high-value means of payment. Berlin, August 9, 1923 Reichsbank directorate]
    face, left, printed, black ink : Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder verfälscht oder nach- / gemachte oder verfälschte sich verschafft und in verkehr / bringt, wird mit Zuchthaus nicht unter zwei Jahren bestraft. [Anyone who imitates or falsifies banknotes or counterfeits or falsifies procures and places them on the market is punished with a term of imprisonment of not less than two years]
    face, above left seal, printed, green ink : HM
    face, left & right of signatures, inside seals, printed, black ink : REICHSBANKDIREKTORIUM [Reichsbank directorate]
    Issuer: Reichsbankdirektorium

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    Reichsbanknote printed in black ink on lightweight, rectangular, cream-colored paper with a geometric star-patterned watermark. On the right end of the face, there is a vertical, green, rectangle with a latticework pattern, and a central geometric medallion surrounded by small flowers. German text in fraktur-style font is printed across the note slightly left of center and in three, vertically-aligned lines on the left. There are 12 signatures centered at the bottom and flanked by the Reichsbankdirektorium seal bearing a left-facing Reichsadler surrounded by German text, on both sides. The back is blank. The note is lightly creased in the upper two corners.
    overall: Height: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm) | Width: 4.750 inches (12.065 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Personal Name
    Luther, Hans, 1879-1962.

    Administrative Notes

    The currency was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Joel Forman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-30 08:47:37
    This page:

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