Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 1 million mark
1923 August 09
publication/distribution: 1923 August 09-1923 November 16
- Object Type
Emergency currency (lcsh)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Wendy Maerker Harris
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.
Record last modified: 2022-05-17 15:46:33
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Also in Maerker and Behr families papers
The collection consists of biographical documents, correspondence, photographs, memoirs and family histories, a military medal, and other items related to the history of the Maerker and Behr families, originally of Bernburg and Mainz, Germany. Includes materials related to the emigration of Willy and Else (nee Behr) Maerker, and their children, Gerhard and Inge, from Germany, to escape anti-Semitic persecution, in 1938.
The collection documents the Holocaust-era experiences of Willy and Else (née Behr) Maerker, originally of Bernburg, Germany, and their children Gerhard and Inge, including their emigration from Germany in 1938. Included are identification and immigration papers, documents regarding Willy’s service in World War I, correspondence, photographs, writings, and born-digital material. The collection also documents the pre-war and wartime experiences of the Behr family, primarily of Mainz, Germany. Many documents in the collection contain translations by Gerhard. The biographical material includes identification papers such as birth and death certificates, immigration documents including German passports, marriage certificates, and papers related to Willy’s service in World War I. The correspondence includes a letter sent from Louis Maerker to Bernhard and Johanna Behr regarding Willy and Else’s upcoming marriage, wartime letters to Else from her mother Johanna in Frankfurt, a letter to Willy and Else from Hilda Meyerwitz telling them of the deaths of Else’s mother and father, and letters from Willy to his parents. The writings consist of a typescript translation of Gerhard Maerker’s diary from 1938 discussing the family’s immigration, and photocopies of writings by Else Maerker on a variety of family history topics. The photographs depict pre-war and wartime lives of the Maerker and Behr families, including wartime photographs of Gerhard Maerker after he was drafted into the United States Army. The born-digital material consists of family history, anecdotes, and typescript copies of many of Else’s writings that appear in series 3.
Das Ehrenkreuz des Weltkriegs 1914 1918 [The Honor Cross of World War 1914/1918) awarded for serving in combat in the German Army during the First World War. The award was established by President Paul von Hindenburg, on July 13, 1934. This was the first official WWI service medal of the Third Reich, often referred to by an unofficial name, Hindenburg Cross. Hindenburg, Field Marshal of German forces during WWI, appointed Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933, and soon a Nazi dictatorship ruled the country.