Mark (GDR)

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Mark of the German Democratic Republic
(January 1, 1968 to June 30, 1990)
Country: Germany Democratic Republic 1949GDR German Democratic Republic
Subdivision: 100 pfennigs
ISO 4217 code : DDM
Abbreviation: M.
Mark of the German Central Bank
(August 1, 1964 to December 31, 1967)
Abbreviation: MDN
Deutsche Mark of the German Central Bank
(July 24, 1948 to July 31, 1964)
Abbreviation: DM
1 mark coin of the GDR, 1979 A

Mark was the name of various legal tender in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR from 1948 to 1990. They were issued from 1948 by the German Central Bank and from 1968 by the State Bank of the GDR . The following currencies denominated in "Mark" were issued in the territory of the GDR:

  • Deutsche Mark of the German Central Bank (DM) July 24, 1948 to July 31, 1964
  • Mark of the German Central Bank (MDN) August 1, 1964 to December 31, 1967
  • Mark (M) of the German Democratic Republic (also Mark of the GDR ) January 1, 1968 to June 30, 1990

1 mark was divided into 100 pfennigs (Pf.).

Convertibility and purchasing power

The GDR mark was a domestic currency , which means that it was not convertible in foreign trade and international travel . The import and export of marks were forbidden and a criminal offense. In international payment transactions, the value date accounting units or the value date mark were used. Foreign money ( sorts ) was generally not permitted as a means of payment in GDR retail. Exceptions were the Intershops , in which payments could only be made with hard currencies ( foreign exchange or West money ) or the so-called forum checks , which were introduced for the immediate state absorption of foreign exchange . For trips to other socialist countries, GDR citizens could also exchange marks for other national currencies to a limited extent. As a minimum exchange, travelers from western countries had to change a fixed amount into GDR Marks. This regulation was referred to in unofficial parlance as "compulsory exchange".

The purchasing power of the Mark of the GDR can only be compared to that of the Deutsche Mark (DM) of the Federal Republic of Germany to a very limited extent: she had one for many of the GDR's subsidized or price-controlled basic daily needs such as basic food, apartments or public transport, but also books significantly higher purchasing power than the Deutsche Mark in the Federal Republic. For consumer goods such as televisions or cars, on the other hand, their purchasing power was significantly lower. On the free market, the GDR mark was traded for around 0.2 German marks for a long time; But even this is only of limited use when assessing purchasing power. Internally, with the help of so-called directional coefficients, a Deutsche Mark was set equal to 4.40M in 1988. Between 1987 and 1989, the GDR combines achieved an average of 0.23 DM for one mark spent in NSW exports . However, the official rate was always 1: 1 - however, conversion from M to DM was only possible to a very limited extent. For approved trips to the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, a fixed amount of 15 marks could be exchanged at the State Bank of the GDR.

Purchasing power

The purchasing power of the GDR mark can best be estimated from the prices in the GDR, when viewed in relation to the average income. According to the tables used to calculate pensions, an average monthly income in the GDR was, for example:

  • 1950: 0DM 265.25
  • 1960: 0DM 444.00
  • 1970: 0589.08 M
  • 1980: 0787.33M
  • 1990: 1290.33 M

The prices of many products remained stable for years and were often only adjusted by changing the packaged quantities (round prices, but non-round pack quantities). Price increases were also implemented when new products were introduced. Indirect price increases were occasionally made by shifting product ranges in the quantities, so that cheaper items were produced in fewer numbers than more expensive ones. Furthermore, there were price increases compared to similar predecessor products, which was justified with an "increase in utility value". In the case of alcoholic beverages, there have been at least two officially announced price and alcohol tax increases since the 1960s. For commercial and private customers there were sometimes different prices for the same products, e.g. B. for building materials. Occasionally, vouchers were also required, such as the “lead note ” for buying car batteries , which you only got for handing over an old one.

The prices for "basic needs" (basic food, rents, energy, tickets, newspapers) were frozen at pre-war levels. Many prices have been subsidized by the state for decades and thus kept constantly low. In contrast, the prices for “luxury goods”, which also included televisions and washing machines, were extremely high. The average net wages were about 800M, the average pensions were about 300 to 600M (1988). Estimates based on calculations of the shopping basket now assume that the purchasing power of the GDR mark in 1989 was roughly the same as that of the D-Mark.

Price examples from the GDR

- Average values, with regional deviations, particularly in the case of rent and food. -

  • 0.05 sts a simple bun
  • 0.08 M one kilowatt hour of electrical energy
  • 0.08 M per kilometer for Deutsche Reichsbahn tickets in 2nd class (0.02 M for school or worker return tickets; 0.116 M in 1st class)
  • 0.10-0.15 M a daily newspaper
  • 0.20 M postage for a letter up to 20 g in Germany and in other socialist countries ( postcard 0.10 M)
  • 0.20 M per trip on the S-Bahn, U-Bahn and tram [in Berlin] (0.10 M for children), trading cards (6 to 8 trips for 1.00 M) are cheaper
  • 0.34 M a bottle of whole milk (0.5 l, 2.2% fat content)
  • 0.35 M postage for a letter up to 20 g to "non-socialist countries"
  • 0.42 M a bottle of Club Cola or Quick Cola (0.33 l)
  • 0.48 M a bottle of full beer, light (0.33 l)
  • 0.61 M a bottle of full beer, Pils (0.33 l)
  • 0.66 M a bag of whole milk (1.0 l tubular bag)
  • 0.78 M 0.75 kg mixed rye bread (not bakery)
  • 0.80 sts a Schlager sweet bar
  • 0.93 M 1 kg of mixed wheat bread
  • 1.00 m a sweet tooth
  • 1.04 M a 1 kg mixed rye bread at the bakery
  • 1.40 M a liter of diesel fuel
  • 1.50 M one liter gasoline 88 octane (normal)
  • 1.50 M a city map Jena (VEB Tourist Verlag , 1987)
  • 1.55 M 1 kg of sugar
  • 1.60 M a box (20 pieces) of filterless cigarettes of the usual brands ( Salem , Karo or Carré).
  • 1.65 M one liter gasoline 92 octane (extra)
  • 2.00 M a map of the trade fair city of Leipzig (VEB Tourist Verlag, 1977)
  • 2.40 M 250 g butter
  • 2.50 M a city map Berlin, capital of the GDR (VEB Landkartenverlag der DDR, 1971)
  • 2.50 M a box (20 pieces) of filter cigarettes made by Juwel or Juwel72
  • 3.20 M a box (20 pieces) of filter cigarettes of the usual brands ( f6 , Semper or Cabinet )
  • 3.75 M bottle of whipped cream (0.25 l)
  • 4.00 M a box (20 pieces) of Club brand filter cigarettes
  • 12.10 M a long-playing record (LP) with classical music from Eterna or voice recordings from Litera
  • 14.50 M a bottle of Goldbrand (0.7 l, 32% alcohol)
  • 16.10 M an LP with pop music ( Amiga )
  • 19,00 M a ticket of German Railways over 200 kilometers Express surcharge
  • 23.60 M a music cassette pop music Amiga
  • 25.00 M monthly rent for a 40 m² apartment in an old building with stove heating
  • 26.00 M a can (250 g) Jacobs coffee coronation in the delicatessen shop ( production under license )
  • 37.00 M a car atlas GDR, scale 1: 200,000 (VEB Tourist Verlag, 1981)
  • 66.00 M a return flight Berlin – Prague with Interflug
  • 70.00 M one kilogram of coffee (eight packs of ground filter coffee "Mocca Fix", each 125 g)
  • 70.00 M monthly rent for a 60 m² new apartment including all ancillary costs
  • 123 M school calculator SR1 (1984, subsidized price for students)
  • 400 M digital wristwatch in the early 1980s
  • 990 M radio / cassette player SANYO MG-30 (1983)
  • 1.900 M moped Simson S51 electronics
  • 2,300 M best 35mm reflex camera Praktica B200 with standard lens (around 1985)
  • 2,700 M motorcycle MZ TS 150 deluxe
  • 2,990 M washing machine (1988, VA 861 from Monsator )
  • 4500-6000 M color television ( chromate , 1982 and Colortron , 1987)
  • over 8,900 M a Trabant 601 (standard version), successor Trabant 1.1 more than 20,000 M.
  • approx. 23,000 M Wartburg 353 , successor Wartburg 1.3 more than 30,000 M



Poster for the currency reform in Leipzig, 1948
5 Reichsmarks with coupon, 1948
2 Deutsche Mark from the first regular series from 1948
Fifty Deutsche Mark - Soviet occupation zone, 1948 - Banknote printing by the SBZ (recognizable by the type set of the control number)

On June 20, 1948, in order to reform the currency in the Trizone (the three western occupation zones), the Reichsmark was abolished and the Deutsche Mark (the Bank of German States , later the Deutsche Bundesbank ) introduced. Now Reichsmark stocks that had become worthless were brought in large quantities to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, in which the Reichsmark was still legal tender. This caused sudden inflation that rendered all private cash holdings in East Germany practically worthless overnight. As an emergency measure, a cash exchange was carried out from June 24th to June 28th, 1948. Reichsmark notes worth a maximum of 70 Reichsmarks could be exchanged 1: 1 per person. This also applied to savings deposits of up to 100 Reichsmarks. Savings deposits in the amount of 100 to 1000 Reichsmarks were exchanged or converted at a ratio of 5: 1. The assets of the state-owned enterprises and the household organizations were converted in a ratio of 1: 1. All other cash holdings and credit balances were exchanged or revalued in a ratio of 10: 1. Cash and balances resulting from war profits, speculation and black market deals were to be confiscated. Therefore, the legality of their purchase was checked for amounts over 5000 Reichsmarks. Since no new banknotes were available at the time of the necessary exchange, the cash had to be exchanged with the issues of Reich and Rentenmark notes that were still in circulation. For this purpose, these banknotes were affixed to the corresponding coupons in precisely prescribed places. During the period between the announcement of the currency reform in the western zones and the start of the exchange campaign in the Soviet occupation zone, the cash stocks of the issuing and giro banks still in the vaults of the countries' issuing and giro banks were already provided with coupons by thousands of employees of the credit institutions. The money tokens with a coupon were put into circulation from June 24, 1948.

In the vernacular, the banknotes were therefore also known as “glue marks”. From June 26, 1948, currency tokens without a coupon were not legal tender, but could still be exchanged for currency tokens with coupons on June 27 and 28, 1948 in accordance with the applicable regulations at the exchange offices. The dividing coins initially remained legal tender. A special situation arose in the city of Berlin with the currency reforms in West and East.

Exchange of banknotes with coupon 1948

When new banknotes became available, the pasted-over money tokens were withdrawn from circulation. The exchange into banknotes of the German Central Bank took place between 25 and 28 July 1948 at a ratio of 1: 1. The currency designation was now "Deutsche Mark der Deutsche Zentralbank" (DM) or "Deutscher Pfennig". Banknotes of 50 Deutsche Pfennig, 1 DM, 2 DM, 5 DM, 10 DM, 20 DM, 50 DM, 100 DM and 1000 DM were issued. Since the new banknotes were only gradually available, 70 DM were initially exchanged per person. All additional amounts presented were secured by crediting existing or future savings accounts. From August 15, 1948, the owners of the accounts could freely dispose of this without restriction. The old 1, 5, 10 and 50 Reichspfennig coins remained valid for the time being.

Exchange of money on October 13, 1957

On October 13, 1957, the government of the GDR decided with the “Aktion Blitz” to suddenly exchange the banknotes in circulation in order to remove the banknotes illegally brought abroad, mainly to West Berlin, contrary to the laws of the GDR. New banknotes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 DM with different colors and watermarks were issued. All banknotes bore the year 1955. The previous banknotes from the 1948 issue, with the exception of the 50 Pfennig and 1 DM banknotes, were no longer in force. On October 13, 1957, between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m., citizens of the GDR were able to exchange banknotes from the 1948 edition in the amount of up to DM 300 at a ratio of 1: 1 for banknotes from the new edition on presentation of their identity card.

Amounts over 300 DM had to be paid into an account of the person being exchanged. The amounts credited in this way could be freely used from October 19, 1957. Larger amounts that were suspected of speculative origin were checked by review commissions of the district councils. This currency exchange did not affect existing balances including savings of the citizens. The currency exchange carried out only applied to banknotes; the circulating coins were not affected. However, the circulation of new coins had already begun in 1956.

Renewal of banknotes from August 1st, 1964

On July 30, 1964, the Council of Ministers of the GDR decided to renew the banknotes. The essence of the state should now also be expressed in the banknotes, it was officially said at the time. The renewal was also necessary because the banknotes in circulation from 1955 were already very worn out. Therefore, from August 1, 1964, new banknotes with the currency designation Mark of the German Central Bank (MDN) were issued. These banknotes were gradually brought into circulation, with the credit institutions making all cash withdrawals only in new banknotes. The banknotes in circulation from the 1955 issue and the 50 Pfennig and 1 Mark denominations from the 1948 issue remained fully legal tender until April 30, 1965. However, they could still be exchanged for new banknotes or coins until November 30, 1965.

With the constitutional changes in 1968 and 1974, the GDR leadership moved further and further away from the original goal of a reunified Germany and renamed many things to "... the GDR", which previously had simply "German ..." in the name. So the name Mark of the German Central Bank changed to Mark of the GDR and the German Central Bank in State Bank of the GDR .

For the so-called East Mark - especially in West German usage - which was issued by the then German Central Bank in East Berlin , the official name Deutsche Mark (DM) was retained in the GDR until 1964 . As part of the currency exchange, the name was then changed to Mark of the German Central Bank (MDN). Since December 12, 1967, new banknotes and coins gradually replaced the MDN notes that were in circulation. Colloquially, the Mark of the GDR (M) was simply referred to as Mark , unofficially also as Ostmark , as a distinction to the West German DM . However, many coins still bore the designation Deutsche Mark until the 1980s . They were gradually replaced by coins with the same motif with the designation Mark .

The changing currency denominations in the GDR can also be recognized when specifying the mark values ​​for the "Walter Ulbricht" permanent stamp series :

New currency denomination Mark of the GDR

On January 1, 1968, the structure of the GDR's banking system was changed. The State Bank of the GDR was created at the central level . It had the sole right to issue coins in the currency of the GDR. The tasks previously carried out by the German Central Bank and the German Investment Bank have now been taken over by the newly founded industrial and commercial bank of the GDR. In 1974 the industrial and commercial bank was incorporated into the State Bank of the GDR. In the GDR there were other credit institutions besides the State Bank; these were the Bank of Agriculture and food industry of the GDR , the German Foreign Trade Bank , the savings banks of the GDR , the cooperative funds for trade and industry of the GDR and the German Trade Bank .

Since the currency denomination of the GDR was not supposed to express the name of a bank but of the socialist state, the GDR Council of Ministers decided to designate the currency of the GDR as the Mark of the German Democratic Republic  - Mark in short  - from January 1, 1968 . The circulating banknotes with the currency denomination Mark of the German Central Bank initially remained legal tender until December 31, 1982. They could be exchanged until December 31, 1983.

In their place were newly designed banknotes with the currency denomination Mark of the German Democratic Republic between 1973 and 1979 . The 1 and 2 Deutsche Mark coins issued since 1956 and 1957 were denoted as Deutsche Mark . In order to make the new currency designation visible on the coins, new 1 and 2 mark coins were put into circulation from November 22, 1978. The coins with the old currency denomination remained legal tender until December 31, 1979 and could be exchanged until December 31, 1980.

Fall of the Wall and Monetary Union

After the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of 1989, a black market rate was formed on the free market, which initially stood at up to 20: 1. Since January 2, 1990, citizens of the GDR have had the opportunity to set up so-called currency accounts in DM at the State Bank of the GDR. Since the beginning of the year, the official free exchange rate of 5: 1 has been in effect, at which anyone in the exchange offices could exchange upon presentation of a valid personal document. At this rate (5: 1) there was unlimited exchange in both directions in the branches of the State Bank of the GDR until June 30, 1990. From now on, banknotes of both currencies were allowed to pass the German-German border unhindered.

At the same time, the price on the black market leveled off at a ratio of around 8: 1. In this way, money that came either from illegal sources or from untaxed income was exchanged.

The following special regulations applied to account holders from July 1, 1990:

  • All account holders who were not citizens of the GDR could exchange at a ratio of 3: 1
  • All account holders who were citizens of the GDR could exchange at a ratio of 2: 1.

In addition, they could exchange the following exemptions at a ratio of 1: 1:

  • 2000 M for children up to and including 14 years of age (the reference date was the day of monetary union)
  • 4000 M for 15 to 59 year olds
  • 6000 M for people over 60 years

The conversion of wages, pensions and running costs such as rent, electricity etc. took place 1: 1. There were significant price increases for all goods that were no longer subsidized by the state.

With the monetary union on July 1, 1990, the GDR mark (M) was replaced by the German mark (DM) as legal tender in the GDR. The GDR coins up to 50 Pfennig were still valid in a transitional period until June 30, 1991 on the territory of the GDR or in the new federal states, as initially not enough coins could be made available.



  • A - Berlin (1948–1990) All GDR commemorative coins were produced by this mint. There was no other manufacturer at the time of issue; some editions had no mint mark .
  • A - Leningradsky Monetnyj Dwor (Münzhof Leningrad , only the 1-penny coin from 1968)
  • E - Muldenhütten (1948–1953)

Course coins

5-pfennig piece of the first series
The first mark pieces of the second series were still in "Deutsche Mark"

Two series of circulation coins were issued in the GDR. The first series included coins of 1, 5, 10 and 50 pfennigs. The coins of 1, 5 and 10 pfennigs showed an ear of corn on a gear on the coat of arms (1948–1950). This motif goes back exactly to a coin created by Franz Krischker in 1943 for the Reichskommissariat Ukraine . In 1952/1953, instead, a hammer with compass, flanked by two ears of corn, was stamped on it. This motif symbolized the emblem of the five-year plan . All coins still bore the inscription "Germany" on the value side. The 50-pfennig coin was made of aluminum bronze , showed a plow in front of an ironworks and was put out of circulation on December 1, 1958 after the issue of a 50-pfennig coin made of aluminum with a new design (second series). The other coins were legal tender until December 31, 1970 and could be exchanged until December 31, 1971.

The second series was put into circulation from 1956 (1 mark piece). The original name "Germany" disappeared. On the value side, oak leaves now adorned the indication of value and on the other side, the GDR's national coat of arms was embossed. Since 1969, the second series also comprised a 20 pfennig coin and 1, 5, 10, 50 pfennig, 1 mark and 2 mark coins. From 1956 to 1963 the mark pieces were in "Deutsche Mark", from 1972 only in "Mark". Commemorative coins of 5, 10 and 20 marks were issued in small editions in silver and in large numbers in nickel silver .

The coins were also mockingly called aluminum chips , which alluded to their material, their low purchasing power for higher-value goods, but also to the low exchange value of the GDR mark versus the D-mark. The coins with a face value of 20 pfennigs were made of brass instead of aluminum. They were heavier and were indispensable when using public telephones or at ticket machines , for example . There are 20-pfennig pieces without embossing marks from 1969 and 1971 and with the embossing mark “A” from 1972 to 1990.

Circulation coins of the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s and 1980s
Face value Value side Image side layout material Dimensions diameter
1 pfennig Front 1 pfennig Back 1 pfennig Rudi Högner , Dresden aluminum 0.75 g 17 mm
5 pfennigs Front 5 pfennigs Reverse 5 pfennigs Rudi Högner , Dresden aluminum 1.10 g 19 mm
10 pfennigs Front 10 pfennigs Reverse 10 pfennigs Rudi Högner , Dresden aluminum 1.50 g 21 mm
20 pfennigs Front side 20 pfennigs Reverse side 20 pfennigs Axel Bertram , Berlin Brass 5.4 g 22.2 mm
50 pfennigs Front 50 pfennigs Reverse 50 pfennigs Rudi Högner , Dresden aluminum 2.0 g 23 mm
1 mark Front 1 mark Reverse 1 mark Rudi Högner , Dresden
Axel Bertram , Berlin
aluminum 2.5 g 25 mm
2 marks Front 2 marks Reverse 2 marks Rudi Högner , Dresden
Axel Bertram , Berlin
aluminum 3.0 g 27 mm

Commemorative coins

Commemorative coins of the German Democratic Republic
Value side Motif side
5 marks
commemorative coin for the 20th anniversary of the GDR
Front 5 Mark 20 years GDR
Reverse 5 Mark 20 years of GDR
10 Mark
commemorative coin for the 25th birthday of the National People's Army (NVA)
10 Mark 25 years of the National People's Army (NVA)
10 Mark
commemorative coin for the 100th birthday of Ernst Thälmann
10 Mark 100th birthday of Ernst Thälmann
20 marks
commemorative coin for the 30th anniversary of the founding of the GDR
20 Mark 30th anniversary of the founding of the GDR

There were a total of 123 commemorative coins with a face value of 5, 10 or 20 MDN or Mark. They were issued on various anniversaries or occasions and consisted of silver , copper / nickel / zinc (so-called nickel silver ) or other alloys. The first commemorative coins were issued from 1966 by the German Central Bank and from 1968 by the State Bank of the GDR. A complete overview can be found in the list of commemorative coins of the GDR . Some issues had very high minting numbers, in particular the 5-mark coin shown above for the 20th anniversary of the GDR, as well as others at 5, 10 or 20 marks, the circulation of which was entirely intended.

Destruction of the coins

Around 4500 tons of coins were melted down; but numerous pieces are still in collectors' and private ownership. The coins delivered by the Staatsbank branches went to the Rackwitz light metal works , where the GDR's only aluminum processing plant was located.


20 marks of the GDR with control number in the type set
50 marks of the GDR with control number in the computer record

From 1948 until the currency changeover in 1964, there were banknotes of 50 Pfennig, 1 Deutsche Mark and 2 Deutsche Mark in addition to the common values ​​of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 marks. In the first issue of the German central bank from 1948 there was still a banknote for 1000 marks. From the second issue from 1955 until the end of the GDR there was no longer such a high banknote.

With the issue of the banknote series on August 1, 1964 in marks by the German Central Bank, head images determined the face of the banknotes to be 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 MDN. The pictorial representation of the reverse side was related to the front side of some banknotes. For example, the front of the banknote of 5 marks had the head of Alexander v. Humboldt and the Humboldt University in Berlin on the back. Although this edition is still considered the most beautiful banknote series in the GDR by collectors because of its good graphic design, there was criticism at the time. Only men dominated the front and back and not a single woman was depicted. All banknotes in this series were suspended on January 1, 1983.

The format of the 1971/1975 series of banknotes was reduced in size and made longer. The banknotes have a general appearance with a famous personality, the value in numbers at the bottom left, the coat of arms of the GDR and the words "Staatsbank der DDR" in the top center; underneath is the value written in "Mark of the German Democratic Republic" and the year. The printed control number is located twice on the front, top left and bottom right. The back shows an everyday situation and to the left of it again the coat of arms of the GDR. Watermarks and a metal strip are provided as security features . The watermark is a head watermark, which corresponds to the respective representation on the front. The security thread consists of a 0.5 mm wide metal-coated film and was embedded in the moist paper web.

There are two versions of the control numbers printed on them; they were carried out either in letterpress type or computer typesetting. The computer sentence can be recognized by the fatter and closer together types.

The banknotes (like the postage stamps) were printed in the VEB Deutsche Wertpapierdruckerei in Leipzig . The printing works belonged to Giesecke & Devrient and was made public in 1948 . In 1978 it was renamed VEB Wertpapierdruckerei der DDR. The banknotes were printed on paper by the VEB Feinpapierfabrik Königstein in Königstein (Saxon Switzerland) . Since 1991 the paper mill, now called Papierfabrik Königstein GmbH , has belonged to Papierfabrik Louisenthal GmbH , a subsidiary of Giesecke & Devrient.

The following illustrations show the last valid banknotes of the GDR. These notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 marks were valid until monetary union. The denominations of 200 and 500 marks, however, were never put into circulation.

Face value front back Dimensions
5 marks 5 Mark obverse 5 Mark back 113 mm × 50 mm
The smallest banknote in the series depicts one of the leaders of the German Peasant War , Thomas Müntzer . The banknote is purple. The back shows several combine harvesters of the Progress E 512 type and IFA W50 trucks during the harvest.

On the 5-MDN note, instead of Thomas Müntzer, Alexander von Humboldt was shown. The reverse showed the Humboldt University in Berlin

10 marks 10 Mark obverse 10 Mark back 120.5 mm × 53 mm
This banknote is brown in color. The obverse shows an old age portrait of the German communist and women's rights activist Clara Zetkin . The reverse shows a young female engineer at a control panel. The model for this was the control room at the Rheinsberg nuclear power plant , which went into operation in 1966.
On the 10-MDN note, Friedrich Schiller was shown instead of Clara Zetkin . The reverse showed the Zeiss works in Jena.
20 marks 20 Mark obverse 20 Mark back 128 mm × 56 mm
This note, kept in green, bears the portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . On the back of the note issued from January 15, 1976, several students can be seen leaving a modern school building .
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also shown on the 20-MDN note. The reverse showed the National Theater in Weimar .
50 marks 50 Mark obverse 50 Mark back 136 mm × 59 mm
The red 50-mark note represents the social theorist Friedrich Engels , co-founder of Marx's theory . The reverse shows the pipelines and chimneys of a large industrial complex. These are the three crude oil distillations and the industrial power plant in the VEB Petrolchemisches Kombinat Schwedt .
Friedrich Engels was also shown on the 50-MDN note. The back showed combines in the field.
100 marks 100 Mark obverse 100 Mark back 145 mm × 62 mm
The blue 100-mark banknote had the highest nominal value of the notes in circulation . It depicts Karl Marx , the founder of communism . At the back the street Unter den Linden is shown with a view of the Palace of the Republic . On the left edge of the picture is the armory , in the background the Berlin TV tower and the Red City Hall can be seen.
Karl Marx was also shown on the 100 MDN note. The back showed the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
200 marks 200 Mark obverse 200 Mark back 152.5 mm × 64 mm

The existence of the planned banknotes of 200 and 500 marks only became known at the turn of the century . The front of the 200-mark note shows a family in a residential area. A kindergarten scene was shown on the back. The watermark shows the dove of peace on the 200-mark banknote .

500 marks 500 Mark front 500 Mark back 160 mm × 68 mm
The GDR's national coat of arms (hammer, circle, corn wreath) was depicted on the front of the 500-mark note and the GDR State Council building on the back . The watermark shows the GDR national coat of arms.

Commemorative banknote

The State Bank of the GDR issued a commemorative banknote worth 20 marks for the opening of the Brandenburg Gate on December 22, 1989. It was a special edition and therefore not legal tender. The Brandenburg Gate is depicted on the front and the Quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate on the back . It is the only commemorative banknote that existed in the history of the GDR.

Destruction of the banknotes

In April 1990, the State Bank sorted out the banknotes stored in the central vaults in the House of Parliamentarians (the former ZK building, formerly Reichsbank) as planned. It was about banknotes that were withdrawn from circulation and no longer fit for circulation (3rd series, 1964–1967). The banknotes were destroyed outside of Berlin. The hundreds of tons of transport were carried out with technology from the NVA and under police protection.

In 1990 and 1991, the entire paper money (approx. 100 billion GDR marks or 620 million banknotes) with a volume of 4500 cubic meters (approx. 300 freight wagons), including the banknotes exchanged in the monetary union and the unissued 200- and 500- Mark banknotes, stored in two 300 meter long sandstone tunnels in the counter mountains near Halberstadt . A total of 3000 tons of banknotes, savings accounts, fuel and forum checks were stored there, which were brought there by military truck from the old Berlin Reichsbank vault. The money was covered with gravel and then secured against theft by two meter thick concrete walls and heavy steel doors. It should rot there due to the natural moisture . The 13 km long tunnel system used for this purpose was created by concentration camp inmates towards the end of the Second World War and was used as a bunker for the NVA under the code name "Malachit" or as a complex camp KL-12 NVA no. 16/630 was used to store equipment and ammunition essential to the war effort . It was the largest bunker in the GDR.

In 1994, through the merger with the State Bank of the GDR, the money became the property of the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

In 1999 two people from Halberstadt succeeded repeatedly in breaking into the tunnel system by means of an unsecured crime and stealing numerous banknotes. This was determined in July 2001 and the 24 and 26 year old men were sentenced by the Halberstadt District Court to four months' imprisonment each. Today, 200 and 500 mark notes from these forays occasionally appear among collectors.

In 2002 KfW decided to burn the banknotes because the banknotes were only rotting very slowly and to prevent further theft. To this end, the tunnel end walls were demolished from March 2002. Underground, the money was freed from the ground using a drum sieve and placed in containers of 33 m³ and 65 tons. From April 2002, around six such containers were transported daily by truck to the “thermal residual waste pre-treatment plant” ( waste incineration plant ) at the Buschhaus power plant near Helmstedt ; there the bills were mixed with household waste and burned. On June 25, 2002, all 298 containers had been processed.

Counterfeit money

The GDR mark has also been forged in its history. There were imitations, forgeries and forgeries of coins and banknotes. Such cases should be cleared up as quickly as possible, but this did not always succeed. The issuing banks of the GDR had a counterfeit money department that classified counterfeited counterfeits into different forgery classes.

Even the banknotes from the currency reform of June 1948 that were covered with coupons were falsified by sticking previously forged coupons with Reichsmark and Rentenmark notes . The banknotes of the first issue of the German Central Bank from 1948 were not spared from forgeries either, the 100 Deutsche Mark banknote was forged by hand drawing. Later there were also forgeries of banknotes created by photocopy, which were then hand-colored. On the upper edge of the back there was a threat of punishment: Anyone who imitates or falsifies banknotes / or procures counterfeit or falsified banknotes / in order to bring them into circulation / will be punished . The 50 pfennig coin from 1950 was also grossly counterfeited. These specimens were mainly found in machines. Coins of 1 and 2 marks and some commemorative coins of 5, 10 and 20 marks were also copied for the purpose of fraudulent machines and shopping. Most of them were cast forgeries.

Checks and debit cards

Check in the GDR

In addition to cash, checks were also used as a means of payment. They were used for cashless payment for goods and services or for withdrawing cash from current accounts at savings banks, banks and post offices. Check traffic was regulated in the order on check traffic of November 25, 1975 and in Law Gazette I / 47, p. 760. The relatively small, green-printed checks (compared, for example, to the Euro check) were taken up as check books by the credit institutions Application issued to the account holder or authorized person. The bank clerk stamped the account number individually on the check forms issued.

The amount of money to be withdrawn was noted on the front and signed by the account holder. The name, address and identity card number of the check submitter, who did not have to be the account holder, were noted on the back of the check and signed by the check submitter. This information was compared with the identity card to be presented when paying and withdrawing money .

The money card was intended for withdrawing cash from the ATMs of the GDR credit institutions. It was also possible to withdraw cash from the current account at the bank counter. ATMs were set up from 1984; You could apply for a cash card at the bank holding the account. In 1989 a total of 274 devices were in operation in major cities; By 1990, more than 350 ATMs were planned across the country.

A noticeable feature of the cash card was the photo of the owner printed on it. According to the Ostseezeitung of March 29, 1989, there should be more than 20,000 money card holders in Rostock at the end of 1989. At that time there were 15 ATMs in operation; more should follow. Such a machine issued up to 500 marks per day with sufficient account balance. Amounts between 40 and 500 marks were possible; Banknotes of 20 and 50 marks were issued.

On top of the back was a writable magnetic strip made of iron oxide. This strip was divided into three data tracks; a storage capacity of a few 100 bytes was sufficient to use the card.

Even after monetary union in 1990, checks and ATMs along with cash cards from the GDR were still in use. The ATMs could be converted to the currency D-Mark, but were quickly replaced by more modern devices.

Coupons and letters of purchase

Loan purchase letter section for the GDR
marriage loan over 5000 marks

There were various types of replacement money in the GDR. There were vouchers and other similar receipts. Some means of payment of this type, such as gift vouchers , were generally available, while others were only intended for a select group of users. Such vouchers were not intended for circulation, but mostly intended for one-time use. Most of these vouchers were issued in marks and pennies and could have a limited validity, for example the goods or gift vouchers of the consumer cooperatives (Konsum) and the nationally owned trade organizations (HO).

The requested special loan ( marriage loan ) was documented with a loan purchase letter . Officially, the interest-free loan to young married people was called loan to finance home furnishings . The credit purchase letter stated the sum of 5,000 marks, and several credit purchase letter sections in check format were enclosed with the purchase (see photo).

GDR military money

These notes, which were never put into circulation, are "normal" banknotes of 5 to 100 marks from the series from 1955, which were provided with various types of hand stamps ( state coat of arms of the GDR , the designation "sample note" or "military money"). Their production and provision was prepared in 1980 on the instructions of the National Defense Council of the GDR . The military money should therefore be used for foreign missions of the National People's Army (NVA). Their practical use was tested in exercises by the NVA. But there was no issue. The notes and sample notes circulating in collectors' circles were probably stolen when the money was removed in 1990 or created afterwards to the detriment of the collectors.

See also


  • Günter Graichen: The money tokens of the GDR. 2nd Edition. transpress publishing house for transport, Berlin 1982.
  • Rainer Gries: The Mark of the GDR. A communication history of the socialist German currency. Erfurt 2003; (PDF; 1.7 MB).
  • Kahnt, Pontzen, Schöne, Walz: The History of the German Mark in East and West. ISBN 3-924861-68-4 (chronicle from the 1940s to the introduction of euro cash, economic and monetary policy aspects, details on the production of coins and banknotes).
  • Niklot Klüßendorf: "West" and "East". Dual currencies as an element of contemporary German history (1948–1990). In: Communications from the Austrian Numismatic Society , 45, 2005, pp. 123–154.
  • Holger Rosenberg: The German banknotes from 1871. ISBN 3-924861-73-0 (so-called Rosenberg catalog, standard work for collectors of German banknotes, all banknotes illustrated, including test prints and unissued military money of the GDR).
  • Banknotes and coins of the GDR. transpress, 1989.
  • Peter Leisering: Money stories from the GDR . H. Gietl Verlag & Publication Service, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86646-841-2 .
  • Peter Leisering: Counterfeit money in the GDR . Verlag Das Neue Berlin, 2014, ISBN 978-3-360-02178-6 .
  • Jonathan Zatlin: The Currency of Socialism. Money and Political Culture in East Germany. German Historical Institute, Washington DC 2007.

Web links

Commons : Banknotes of the GDR  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Coins of the GDR  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. This code is no longer used in the current issue.
  2. Exchange rate one DM 1970 1.80 M; 1975 2.20 M; 1980 2.50 M; 1987 4.00 M 1988 4.40; H. Jörg Thieme: Central bank and currency of the GDR. In: Fifty Years of the Deutsche Mark: Central Bank and Currency in Germany since 1948, ed. from the Deutsche Bundesbank. CH Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-406-43659-8 , pp. 609-654; here p. 648.
  3. Gerlinde Sinn, Hans-Werner Sinn: Cold start. Tübingen 1992, ISBN 978-3-16-145869-9 , dtv 1993, p. 72.
  4. Manfred Willms : The economic design of the united Germany 1989/90. Economic issues. In: Jürgen Elvert, Friederike Krüger (Ed.): Germany 1949–1989. From two states to unity. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2003, p. 141.
  5. ^ Ulrich Busch: The currency union. In: Hannes Bahrmann , Christoph Links (Ed.): Past the goal. German unity. An interim balance. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2005, p. 80 ff.
  6. ^ Message from the Federal Minister of Finance (PDF; 20 kB); Juris: Laws on the Internet, accessed November 10, 2011.
  7. Günter and Gerhard Schön: Small German coin catalog from 1871 to today. 34th edition. Battenberg, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-89441-554-1 , p. 210.
  8. Helmut Caspar: From Taler to Euro. The Berliners, their money & their coins. P. 178 f.
  9. 50 kopeks 1943, for the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Retrieved December 12, 2012 .
  10. ^ Helmut Kahnt, Michael H. Schöne, Karlheinz Walz: Currency history for those interested in contemporary history and collectors. 50 Years of the Deutsche Mark - 1948–1998: The History of the German Post-War Currencies in East and West. Retrieved December 12, 2012 .
  11. ^ Banknotes and coins of the GDR. transpress, 1989.
  12. Rosenberg No. 347 in Holger Rosenberg's catalog: The German banknotes from 1871. H. Gietl Verlag, Regenstauf.
  13. ^ Catalog from Holger Rosenberg: The German banknotes from 1871. H. Gietl Verlag, Regenstauf.
  14. ^ VEB securities printing company of the GDR. (No longer available online.) Saxon State Archives, archived from the original on December 3, 2010 ; Retrieved July 21, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. ^ History of the Königstein plant in Saxony. Papierfabrik Louisenthal GmbH, accessed on July 21, 2011 .
  16. ^ Law Gazette of the GDR of December 8, 1975.
  17. Christian Siedenbiedel: DDR-money 15 years ago finally destroyed. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 28, 2017, p. 25.
  18. ^ Peter Leisering: Counterfeit money in the GDR. Das Neue Berlin, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-360-02178-6 ( book presentation by Judith Liere, Spiegel Online, February 24, 2014).
  19. ^ Hans-Georg Günter: The following text is taken from the Guter Rat magazine of March 1989. Retrieved on September 13, 2015 ( Guter Rat , Verlag für die Frau , Leipzig / Berlin, Issue 3/89, p. 33): “ATMs offer their services in the capital and in some large cities. Over 200 ATMs are currently in use. 350 will be there by the end of the year. "
  20. Reiner Graff: Goethe and Engels once came out of the machine - the ATMs of the GDR. CoinsRevue, issue 1/2013, Gietl Verlag, Regenstauf.