In 1957, Germany, along with five other nations, founded what was known as the European Economic Community, the predecessor of what is currently the European Union. The aim was to promote free market trade and commodity exchange, and on the 1st of January 1999, they adopted the Euro as their currency.
There followed a transitional period where the euro was not a legal tender but only book money, meaning that it was used mainly in transactions by financial institutions and not really on the street as legal tender, legal tender still being the German (Deutsche) Mark.
The legal tender status of the Deutsche mark ended on the 31st of December 2001, with the euro replacing it as legal tender as from January 1st, 2002. However, the German Mark continued to be accepted as a medium of payment as a result of a joint declaration of retail and banking associations, up until the 28th of February of the same year. By that time, the legal tender status of the German Mark expired, and it ceased to be accepted as a valid legal tender for any transaction.
What is the value of the German Mark today?
Because it is no longer a valid means of exchange for commodities, the German Mark is not exactly a valid currency in any country, other than Germany, where it even has to be exchanged for the euro to be of any value. But first, it is worth noting that the German mark is not one thing, but a collection of things, so to speak.
So what then is the German Mark?
Before the introduction of the euro, the official currency of the Republic of Germany was the German or Deutsche Mark. However, different marks have been the currency of the Germans over time.
Germany has had five kinds of marks in its history, and it is essential to know them to be able to ascertain if they have any value as of today.
- From 1871 to 1914, the German empire had the Mark as its currency.
- From 1914 to 1923, the official currency was the German Paper Mark
- From 1924 to 1948, the official currency was the German Reich mark.
- From 1948 to 1990, the official currency was the Deutsche Mark in West Germany and the East German Mark in East Germany.
- From 1990, after the Unification, to 2002, when the euro replaced it, the official currency was the Deutsche Mark.
From 1871 to 1914, the mark, also known as the gold mark, was the official currency of the German empire and was backed by the gold standard, which means that the value of one mark was fixed at 0.358 grams of gold.
Changing the standards
By 1914, the First World War had started, and wars are expensive to prosecute. In order to pay for the war, and to protect the reserves of gold, Germany abandoned the gold standard, which meant that the Reich banknotes, which could, a priori, be exchanged for gold, ceased to be exchangeable for gold.
Law had demanded that each issue or set of notes printed was backed to at least one-third of its value by gold bullion. In August 1914, this standard was abandoned. This meant that newly set up loan banks could quite simply print money, and use it without having to worry about backing it with gold. Needless to say that this caused a proliferation of banknotes that had no real value, as they were printed on demand and used at will, leading to a period of hyperinflation.
The red-sealed 1000- mark Reich banknote, dated 1910, and was printed until the end of World War One. With Germany’s defeat in 1918, things got really worse. Losers in a war are hardly in a position to dictate terms, so Germany and its economy were at the mercy of the victors and their economic forces.
The 1000 – Mark note, which used to be worth up to 50 pounds before world war one, was worth 16.70 pounds in June 1919, and by December of the same year, had dwindled even further to 5.40 pounds, and by 1923, it was worth less than half a penny. By 1924, the highest German banknote in circulation was the One Hundred Trillion Mark banknote, which was worth about five pounds sterling.
Thus, given that these notes were printed in such copious quantities, they are today worth very little, even to collectors and members of numismatic societies.
The post-war notes are a different matter altogether. With the war notes being almost worthless, and the German economy in dire need of rebuilding, the Paper Mark, or Papiermark, was issued. The exchange rate was 1 Paper Mark = One Trillion Reichsmark, a factor of 1: 10 to the power of twelve. To smoothen the transition, the interim Rentenmark was issued. Hardly do any of these still exist in circulation, and they have no real value. The Papiermark was used in the industrial revolution that began in Germany and was the effective currency for much of the secret rearmament that Hitler executed, but that is not the thrust of this piece.
By 1948, when the allies occupied Germany, following the end of World War II, each of the Allies was printing its currency in the zone it held. On Sunday, June 20th, 1948, Ludwig Erhard, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs, issued the Deutsche Mark in an effort to mop up the old notes and prevent the imminent wave of hyperinflation and to stop the rampant black market trade and barter system that was crippling the postwar economy. The new notes were issued at the rate of one to one (1DM = 1 RM) for salaries and rent, and one to ten (1DM = 10 RM) for the remainder in private non-bank credit balances.
About the Eastern Mark
On the other side, in what was known as East Germany, there was a Deutsche Mark too, commonly known as the Eastern Mark, or the OstMark. There was friction as the Mark which replaced the Rentenmark in the west was issued earlier, causing an influx of the now worthless RM to the east where it still had worth.
However, some smart economic planning was used to avoid what would have been a fiasco, as it would have led to a concentration of wealth in the hands of those in the East. Thankfully, it was averted, and the two sub-countries co-existed until the unification. Prior to this, the East German Mark was considered to be at par with the West German Mark, but because it was practically worthless outside east Germany, when people from eastern Germany visited the west they often found themselves having to rely on friends and relatives for support because the currency counted for nothing.
The Deutsche Mark was introduced as the official currency of East Germany in 1990, setting the pace for the unification in October of the same year. The East German Marks were exchanged at the rate of 1:1, for the first 4000 Marks, and 2:1 for larger amounts. The German Bundesbank had a very rigid policy that ensured that the German Mark was one of the world’s most stable currencies even at the worst of times. This informs the decision of the German Central Bank to keep the exchange for post-1990 unification issued notes open indefinitely, with options for the return of old currency notes even by mail. And as at 2017 a total of 12.64 billion Deutschemarks remained in circulation, squirreled away in old cupboards.
So is the German mark worth anything or how much for a German mark can one get today? It may not be directly possible to determine the deutsche mark exchange rate or how much dollars for deutsche mark one can get today because the German central bank only allows the conversion of the deutsche mark to euro and not deutsche mark to usd. However you can take a look at ForgottenBucks.com homepage to see how much do we offer today and visit our page about old German marks exchange to get more details.