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When Money Dies

by Adam Fergusson

Created: 2021-02-07
Wordcount: 0.3k

When Money Dies is an account of hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It seemed to assume that I knew more than I did about exactly how the Weimar government functioned, and generally what was occurring in Germany politically at the end of World War I. Even so, the account was relatively clear. The best part for me was hearing about people's understanding of what was going on, though.

Between 1919 and 1923, currency in Germany inflated by approximately 100 billion times -- i.e., the purchasing power of 1 mark in 1919 was 100 billion times less in 1923. The cause of this was, apparently, that Germany simply printed money to meet internal debts. Inflating ended quickly in 1923 with the redenomination of the mark to the rentenmark, and the cessation of the printing of money.

Things I learned

  1. People seemed to blame the inflation on everything but the actual cause -- i.e., printing money. The Jews were among the people blamed, of course.

  2. People also were angry at farmers for not selling their goods. Why not sell them? Well, if you sell something and the money you get for it is worthless a week later, it makes very little sense to sell it. Eventually it got so bad that roving gangs from towns would go into the countryside to plunder those with productive property.

  3. I did not know about France occupying the Ruhr. It becomes increasingly hard, as one reads on, not to blame France in part for the rise of Hitler and for World War II.