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German Mark  
German Currency
Curriculum Vitae:
Born 1873
Replaced talers and guilders
1 Deutschmark = 100 pfennig
1 euro = 1.96 marks
The German euro
Perhaps more than any other European currency, the German mark tells the story of the country's turbulent past. Coins going by the name of mark have been around since the 9th Century and a standardised mark tied to the value of gold was introduced as the official currency for the German empire proclaimed by Kaiser Wilhelm in 1871.

The World War I campaign to "Give gold for iron" to support the war effort, sowed the seeds of the hyperinflation Germany would see in the 1920s. Then not just the government, but also 5,800 towns, communities and companies printed notes as Germany struggled with reparation payments. By the time the Rentenmark was introduced in 1924 in an attempt to stop the rot, a US dollar was worth 4.2bn paper marks.

Hitler's accession to power saw the introduction of the swastika-adorned Reichsmark though it never became the pan-European currency he envisaged.

By the end of World War II Germany no longer had a functioning currency and the occupying allies' solutions to the situation pointed to the country's divided future.

Deutschmarks printed in America were transported into the western zone while a 1948 reform introduced the ostmark into the Soviet occupied zone. Both transfers were considered a success but it was the Deutschmark that became the emblem of West Germany's "economic miracle".

On reunification in 1990, East German marks became obsolete and were exchangeable 1:1 with Deutschmarks. Economically, the rate was unrealistic - it meant eastern workers were paid the same as their much more productive western counterparts, making them uncompetitive. But politically anything else was deemed impossible.

Perhaps because of this very recent change, many East Germans are against the introduction of the euro, with 47% against and 44% in favour. But even their western counterparts are not greatly enthusiastic about the single currency, with 53% in favour. But the events of 1989 will be remembered in the euro, with German coins featuring the Brandenburg gate.

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