In a recent post, I said that fears of “debt and inflation are embedded in the German DNA.”
Indeed they are.
Two years ago, in “Germany in the Era of Hyperinflation,” Spiegel Online said that
The hyperinflation left behind a national trauma that can be felt to this day. The experiences of 1923 have etched themselves into the German psyche. Fear of inflation is widespread, and German economists feel more duty-bound than others to vouchsafe economic stability.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Not so in the case of Weimar Germany: it’s more like a trillion words.
In 1923, when the government of the Weimar Republic moved to suspend trading of the mark and replace it the rentenmark because hyperinflation had rendered it worthless, children used the banknotes as playthings.
Thousands of people wait in front of a bank. The standard of living for people across German dropped precipitously as a result of hyperinflation — eventually contributing to Hitler’s rise to power.
A 20-million mark note from 1923: By the end of the year, the dollar was worth 4.2 trillion marks.
Mark notes are weighed by a woman in 1923: By then, the currency was worth little more than the paper it was printed on.
Germany’s national trauma was inflation. Our’s was deflation. But these photos from the Great Depression are indistinguishable from the second of the above pictures: