Emergency Money in Bavaria 1914–1923

Emergency money is a substitute means of payment intended to remedy the shortage of official money in times of economic crisis. Municipalities, financial institutions or industrial enterprises issue it to maintain liquidity of payment transactions for the population on a daily basis.

Emergency money was used in Bavaria mainly during WWI and in the subsequent period of massive inflation until 1923. The first emergency money was issued in 1914 with the outbreak of WWI. It remedied the shortage of copper and nickel coins – metal was needed for the defence industry. Paper bills in denomination of small change up to a few pence were mainly used in grocery shops.

With the end of the war in 1918, currency devaluation increased steadily. In addition to the small change, there were now also emergency bills of up to one hundred marks. Ultimately, the currency devaluation reached its climax with hyperinflation in 1923: millions, billions and finally trillions were needed and, in terms of their value, hardly corresponded to more than one kilo of bread. The introduction of the stable emergency money in November 1923 was a first attempt to stabilise the monetary system. It was not made out in the name of the mark, but on gold or commodities such as rye. Inflation did not end until the introduction of the so-called "rentenmark" as a transitional currency.

Everything that was available at the time could serve as material for emergency money. Usually, however, paper was used. The bills were mostly produced in local print shops. In their design, the emergency bills reflect their time of creation. They depict the consequences of war and inflation and express the desire for an idyllic world and a prosperous economy. Traditional motifs such as cityscapes and communal coats of arms were meant to generate confidence in the emergency money as a means of payment.

Between 1947 and 1948, there was a short period during which a relatively small amount of emergency money was issued. The bills in denominations of pence were no longer needed after the currency reform of 20 June 1948 and, therefore, disappeared.

The partial collections of "Paper money in Bavaria" available in bavarikon

Exhibition on Emergency Money in Bavaria on bavarikon

>> This collection is part of the holdings of "Paper money in Bavaria" of the Giesecke+Devrient Stiftung Geldscheinsammlung (Giesecke+Devrient foundation: collections of bank notes).