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Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 20,000 mark

Object | Accession Number: 2003.413.105

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    Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 20,000 mark


    Brief Narrative
    Reichsbank note, valued at 20,000 marks, distributed in Germany from February 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 February 20
    publication/distribution:  1923 February 20-1923 November 16
    issue: Germany.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joel Forman
    face, center, printed, black ink : 20000 Reichsbanknote 20000/ Zwanzigtausend Mark / zahlt die Reichsbankhauptkasse in Berlin gegen diese Banknote dem Einlieferer. / Vom 1. Juli 1923 ab kann diese Banknote aufgerufen und unter Um- / tausch gegen andere gestezliche Zahlungsmittel eingezogen werden / Berlin, den 20. Februar 1923 / Reichsbankdirektorium / (12 illegible signatures) [20000 Reichsbank note 20000 twenty thousand mark The Reichsbank’s head office in Berlin pays the consignor against this banknote. From July 1, 1923 this banknote can be summoned and confiscated in exchange for other high-value means of payment. Berlin, February 20, 1923 Reichsbank directorate]
    face, left & right of signatures, inside seals, printed, black ink : REICHSBANKDIREKTORIUM [Reichsbank directorate]
    face, above left seal, printed, black ink : S – VL
    face, above right seal, printed, black ink : 417680
    face, left margin, top & bottom of rectangle, printed, red ink : 20000
    face, left margin, inside small rectangle, printed, red ink : Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder ver- / fälscht, oder nachgemachte 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]
    back, center, printed, red & green ink : 20000
    back, center, around denomination, printed, gray ink : ZWANZIGTAUSEND / MARK [Twenty thousand mark]
    back, right margin, inside rectangle, printed, red ink : REICHSBANKNOTE [Reichsbank note]
    Issuer: Reichsbankdirektorium

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    Reichsbanknote printed in black ink on lightweight, rectangular, cream-colored paper with a repeating circle-patterned watermark. On the face, there is a wide margin to the left of a rectangle with an intricate black border and a red floral underprint that transitions into a green streak down the center. German text is printed across the rectangle’s center in fraktur-style font. 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 serial number is printed above the right seal. Printed in the left margin is a vertical red rectangle with the denomination at both ends, and five small, vertically-aligned lines of German text printed in red ink within a central rectangle. On the back, there is a rectangle with a red decorative border and a grid pattern around a large floral medallion backprint that transitions into a green streak down the center. The denomination is printed across the center of the medallion with German text printed above and below in gray ink. To the right, there is a wide margin bearing a vertical red rectangle with German text printed across it. The note has light creasing in the corners.
    overall: Height: 3.750 inches (9.525 cm) | Width: 6.250 inches (15.875 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 08:47:55
    This page:

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