Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
- George Santayana
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
- George Bernard Shaw
After World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was required to pay huge reparations for the war. Furthermore, Germany was not allowed to engage in any real production, and the only option remaining was for the German government to print money. LOTS of it! The resulting hyperinflation was considered by many to be more devastating than World War I. Hyperinflation and the destruction of the economy were the primary motivations for World War II, making the second conflict almost inevitable. Inflation was increasing so fast that the price of products would be different in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
“It was horrible! Horrible! Like lightning it struck. No one was prepared. You cannot imagine the rapidity with which the whole thing happened. The shelves in the grocery store were empty. You could buy nothing with your paper money.”
– Dr. Friedrich Kessler, Harvard law professor who lived through the Weimar Hyperflation
As you look at the increasing numerical value of the money, keep in mind that its actual value was decreasing at a similar rate. Given the multi-billion dollar commerical bailouts, and the multi-TRILLION dollar budget (?!) proposed for 2011, it is very likely that the United States is about to experience this same type of inflation - and human suffering.
(My sincere thanks to Karen Ciocchi and family who gave me the gift of an album with actual samples of the German money shown here. She has asked me to use the album and money as a vivid lesson to all Americans in the hope that our future economic problems can be understood and corrected. I am forever grateful.)
I will eventually include commentary for each of the denominations shown, however I wanted to make the images available immediately.
Twenty Thousand Marks
Fifty Thousand Marks
One Hundred Thousand Marks
Two Hundred Thousand Marks
Five Hundred Thousand Marks
One Million Marks
Two Million Marks
Five Million Marks
Ten Million Marks
FIFTY MILLION Marks!
ONE HUNDRED MILLION Marks!
Two Hundred Million Marks
Five Hundred Million Marks
ONE BILLION MARKS! That's 1000 Million Marks!
These are famous pictures from America's "Great" Depression of the 1920's
This is a picture of at least one family in America today.
How many more will be forced to survive under these conditions?