German Reichsmark

For a detailed discussion of the English translation of Reich, see Reich.
The Reichsmark (English: Reich Mark; symbol: RM) was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.


The Reichsmark was introduced in 1924 as a permanent replacement for the Papiermark. This was necessary due to the 1920s German inflation which had reached its peak in 1923. The exchange rate between the old Papiermark and the Reichsmark was 1 RM = 1012 Papiermark (one "trillion" in modern English, one "billion" in German and other European languages, see long and short scales). To stabilize the economy and to smooth the transition, the Papiermark was not directly replaced by the Reichsmark, but by the Rentenmark, an interim currency backed by the Deutsche Rentenbank, owning industrial and agricultural real estate assets. The Reichsmark was put on the gold standard at the rate previously used by the Goldmark, with the U.S. dollar worth 4.2 RM.

During the Second World War, Germany established fixed exchange rates between the Reichsmark and the currencies of the occupied and allied countries, often set so as to give the Germans economic benefits. The rates were as follows:

Currency Date set Value in RM
Belgian franc May 1940 0.1
July 1940 0.08
Bohemian and Moravian koruna 1939 0.1
Bulgarian lev 1940 32.75
Danish krone 1940 1
French franc May 1940 0.05
Italian lira 1943 0.1
Luxembourg franc May 1940 0.25
July 1940 0.1
Dutch gulden May 10, 1940 1.5
July 17, 1940 1.327
Norwegian krone 1940 0.6
? 0.57
Polish złoty 1939 0.5
British Pound (Channel Islands) 1940 5 (initially)
Croatian Kuna April 1941 0.05
Slovak koruna 1939 0.1
October 1, 1940 0.086
Ukrainian karbovanets 1942 0.1

After the Second World War, the Reichsmark continued to circulate in Germany, with new banknotes printed in the U.S. and U.S.S.R. as well as coins. The Reichsmark was replaced in June 1948 by the Deutsche Mark in West Germany and later in the same year by the East German Mark ("Mark der DDR" or "Ostmark") in East Germany.


In 1924, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig, and 1 and 3 Mark (not Reichsmark). The 1 and 2 Reichspfennig were struck in bronze, with the 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig in aluminium-bronze and the two highest denominations in .500 fine silver. In 1925, .500 fine silver 1 and 2 Reichsmark coins were introduced for circulation, along with the first commemorative 3 and 5 Reichsmark coins. In 1927, nickel 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced along with regular-type 5 Reichsmark coins, followed by the 3 Reichsmark coin in 1931.

4 Reichspfennig coins were issued in 1932 as part of a failed attempt by the Reichskanzler Heinrich Brüning to reduce prices through use of 4 Reichspfennig pieces instead of 5 Reichspfennig coins. Known as the Brüningtaler or Armer Heinrich ("poor Heinrich"), they were demonetized the following year. See Brüningtaler .

The quality of the Reichsmark coins decreased more and more towards the end of World War II and misprints happend more frequently. This lead to an uprise in Counterfeiting of money which didn't have too big of an impact on the economy because of the ongoing War.

Production of silver 1 Reichsmark coins ended in 1927. In 1933, nickel 1 Reichsmark coins were introduced, and new silver 2 and 5 Reichsmark coins were introduced which were smaller but struck in .625 and .900 fineness so as to maintain the amount of silver. Production of the 3 Reichsmark coin ceased altogether. In 1935, aluminium 50 Reichspfennig coins were introduced, although nickel was again used in 1938 and 1939. From 1936 on, all coins except the 1 Reichsmark and the first version (1935-36) of the 5 Reichsmark coin (bearing the image of the late Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg) bore the Nazi insignia.

During the Second World War, bronze and aluminium-bronze coins were replaced by zinc and aluminium, with the 2 Reichspfennig and denominations over 50 Reichspfennig no longer issued. The last production of coins bearing the swastika was in 1944 (5 and 50 Reichspfennig) and 1945 (1 and 10 Reichspfennig).

After the war, the Allies issued coins in relatively small numbers between 1945 and 1948:

  • 1945-46: 1 and 10 Reichspfennig
  • 1947-48: 5 and 10 Reichspfennig

These coins were issued with designs very similar to those minted in 1944-45, with the exception that the swastika was removed from beneath the eagle on the reverse.


The first Reichsmark banknotes were introduced by the Reichsbank and state banks such as those of Bavaria, Saxony and Baden. The first Reichsbank issue of 1924 came in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Reichsmark. This was followed by a second issue in the same denominations, dated between 1929 and 1936. A 20 Reichsmark note was introduced in 1939, using a design taken from an unissued Austrian 100 schilling banknote type. 5 Reichsmark notes were issued in 1942. Throughout this period, the Rentenbank also issued banknotes denominated in Rentenmark, mostly in low denominations.

Following their occupation of Germany, the Allies issued banknotes dated 1944. These were printed in similar colours with different sizes for groups of denominations. Notes were issued for ½, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Mark (not Reichsmark). The issuer was the Alliierte Militärbehörde ("Allied military authorities") with In Umlauf gesetzt in Deutschland ("in legal circulation in Germany") printed on the obverse.

In 1947 Rhineland-Palatinate issued 5 and 10 Pfennig notes with Geldschein on them.

Occupation Reichsmark

Coins and banknotes for circulation in the occupied territories during the war were issued by the Reichskreditkassen. Holed, zinc coins in 5 and 10 Reichspfennig denominations were struck in 1940 and 1941. Banknotes were issued between 1939 and 1945 in denominations of 50 Reichspfennig, 1, 2, 5, 20 and 50 Reichsmark. These served as legal tender alongside the currency of the occupied countries.

Military Reichsmark Currency

Special issues of Reichsmark currency were issued for use by the German Armed Forces from 1942-1944. The first issue was denominated in 1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig, but was valued at 1 military Reichspfennig = 10 German Reichspfennig. This series was unifaced. The second issue of 1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichsmark were equal in value to the German Reichsmark and was printed on both sides.

Concentration camp and POW Reichsmark Currency

Various special issues of Reichsmark currency were issued for use in concentration and prisoner of war (POW) camps. None were legal tender in Germany itself.

See also


External links

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