Interesting facts: billions of Deutschmarks still in circulation

Blogbeitrag KW13

On June 21, 1948, the Deutschmark replaced the Reichsmark and Rentenmark. More than 50 years later – on January 1, 2002 – it suffered the same fate and had to give up its role as the only legal tender. That was the birth of the euro. However, the Germans have not yet decided to let the currency disappear completely.

A brief history of the Deutschmark

After the war, a clear trend emerged: Germany was heading for an enormous economic crisis. The Reichsmark existed in large quantities. But there was little that citizens could have bought for it. Instead, another “currency” was established – the cigarette currency. The Allies had to act – and they did.

As early as 1946, they made plans to focus on economic unity in Germany despite the prevailing occupation zones. In the end, this plan was only partially successful, as the Soviet Union smashed it for the eastern zone. As a result, the Deutschmark was only issued in West Germany in 1948. In reunified Germany, it initially remained the only legal tender. Until the euro appeared on the scene.

“100 euros, that’s 200 Deutschmarks!”

However, the Deutschmark, which the German population always associated with the economic boom, continues to play a minor role – at least in the minds of many. Even 20 years after the introduction of the euro, the Deutschmark has not been forgotten. Quite the opposite. According to a Forsa survey commissioned by the television stations RTL/NTV, more than half of the 1,005 respondents stated that they still convert larger euro amounts into Deutschmark prices. The maths example is familiar: the euro price is simply doubled.

A third would even like the old currency back. This is also because there is a perception that life in Germany has become more expensive with the introduction of the euro. At least that is how 69% of participants felt.

Over 50 million Deutschmarks were exchanged in 2023

It is hardly surprising that many Germans have preserved a memory and have kept the odd Deutschmark for nostalgic reasons. However, some bills and coins have certainly also been lost, which are gradually reappearing and are constantly being exchanged. However, the amount of the former national currency that found its way back to the Bundesbank last year is surprising.

From January to November 2023, the central bank exchanged a good 53 million Deutschmarks for 27 million euros. This makes last year the second year in a row in which the amount exchanged increased. According to the Bundesbank, there are probably 12.2 billion Deutschmarks still in circulation, meaning that an exchange value of a good 6.24 billion euros is waiting to be paid out. It is doubtful that these coins and bills will ever find their way into the Bundesbank – on the one hand because of the collectors. On the other hand, the Deutschmark was valued worldwide as a reserve currency. The Bundesbank therefore assumes that a large proportion of the stocks are still held abroad.

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