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Germans still cry for Deutsch Mark, despise euro

17.04.2012  |  17:00

This year, Germany celebrated the tenth anniversary since the time when the country bid farewell to its national currency - the Deutsch Mark (the German Mark). The mark went down in history at the peak of its success. The new currency, the euro, failed to win the hearts of the majority of Germans. The euro's first steps in Germany were weak

This year, Germany celebrated the tenth anniversary since the time when the country bid farewell to its national currency - the Deutsch Mark (the German Mark). The mark went down in history at the peak of its success. The new currency, the euro, failed to win the hearts of the majority of Germans. As former President of the European Commission, Jacques Delor said, not all Germans may believe in God, but all of them believe in the Deutsch Mark and the Bundesbank. The euro's first steps in Germany were weak.

The joint European currency did not receive a hearty welcome in the country. Ten years ago, the majority of Germans could not believe how their strong currency could be replaced with something so unstable and unreliable. The euro came to Germany as a pig in a poke: the country had to say goodbye to the currency, which they were so proud to have for many centuries. The date, when the Deutsch Mark appeared, remains unknown.

The mark is first mentioned in the history of the Roman Empire, during the cold period of the Middle Ages. The mark appeared when the dominant currency, the pound, was divided into two. The mark, which translates as "borderline," was one of those parts.

Originally, one mark corresponded to eight ounces and was used to measure the weight of precious metals, presumably silver. After the collapse of the Frankish state in the XI century, tribal communities of the Germans united the German lands and founded the German state, in which the mark became the national currency. The financial situation in ancient Germany was a mess. The marks (the coins) would differ in their weight, which complicated the lives of vendors and everyone else who had to deal with money.

There was a variety of other coins that the people were using  - guldens, thalers, kreutzers and many others. However, the Cologne mark began to rise above all other units of currency.

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1871 became a landmark year for the mark: it became the official monetary unit of the German empire. Back then, the gold constituent of the mark measured 0, 358423 grams. One mark comprised 100 pfennigs.

The paper money appeared along with the coins. The stability of the paper money was secured with its gold peg. World War I changed the history of the German currency. The exchange of paper banknotes into the precious metal was abolished on August 4, 1914.

When the people of Germany had to plunge into the chaos of war, the mark was suffering too. During the war years, the mark coins would be minted from iron, zinc and aluminum. The value of the Deutsch mark dropped to the critical level. By 1923, the German currency was still suffering from hyperinflation.

The war took the German currency to the brink of poverty. Its glorious golden past became history, and the Germans had to deal with the paper mark. WWI ended with the appearance of the Reichsmark in post-war Germany.

The rate of the paper mark vs. the new monetary unit made up 1 000 000 000 000 : 1. The Reichsmark that existed during the years between the two world wars, was based on the gold standard. The word 'Reichsmark' literally translates as the 'mark of the superpower.' Even the US dollar would bow its head to the currency. The official rate of the Reichsmark against the US dollar during 1923-1924 was kept on the parity level of 4.2 marks. After the devaluation of the dollar in 1934, the rate made up 2.5 marks per one US dollar. The secret for such a valuable currency to appear in Germany, the country that was defeated in WWI, lies in the lenient patronage of the winners of the war.

They provided Germany with gold and foreign currency. However, the period of the gold standard did not last long in Germany. The winners of the war lost their fame and fortune as a result of the financial crisis in 1929-1933. The Reichsmark stayed alive before the end of WWII. The currency was put out of circulation in the western parts of the defeated Germany on June 21, 1948 (in eastern territories - two days later). The German mark, for which most Germans still cry, appeared on June 20, 1948 in the British, French and American occupation zones. The new currency was created in an opposition to the German mark of the Soviet zone, which saw the light four days later in 1948.

Afterwards, it was named the mark of the GDR. The currency died in 1990, when the two parts of Germany united into one. First banknotes of the German mark, which subsequently became the national currency of the new Germany, were printed in the United States. After many years, the new German currency became associated with such words as 'reliability' and 'stability'. The German mark gradually became the most stable monetary unit in Europe.

The currency became popular in other countries too. Many Germans still keep their Deutsch Marks despite the reign of the euro. According to experts' estimates, the Germans were holding nearly 13.3 billion Deutsch Marks a year ago. The German citizens did not rush to take their marks to the bank in 1999, when the euro was introduced in the country for the first time. They did not take their national currency anywhere in 2002 either, when the euro finally toppled the Deutsch Mark. Interestingly enough, they still use the mark in financial operations in some parts of Germany. Many experts say that the possible collapse of the euro and the European Union may resurrect the German mark.

If it ever happens, the mark will become one of the most stable currencies in the world again, whereas other countries may simply perish without the support from the powers-that-be. Maria Snytkova Bigness Read the original in Russian .



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