Effects of Hyperinflation in Germany in 1923
- AQA, Edexcel, OCR
Last updated 19 Jan 2019
Who were the winners and losers from hyperinflation in Germany in 1923?
Falling Value of the Reichsmark
The more money that the government printed, the more the money became worthless. This meant that, when other countries exchanged their money to Reichsmarks, it wasn’t worth anything. As a result, imports to Germany fell and the shortages became worse. Germany could not import the goods it needed for survival.
Daily life became difficult for many. Hyperinflation created a situation whereby prices rose almost hour by hour. People were paid twice in a day and often had to take piles of money to the shops in wheelbarrows. Shopping stopped becoming about paying for goods with money but developed into an exchange economy whereby goods were swapped for each other, e.g. food for toiletries. Famous examples included people using bank notes as wallpaper, as this was cheaper than purchasing wallpaper. Children too were also given large piles of money to play with, some created kites or built towers out of the money.
As money became worthless so too did people’s savings. For example, if you had saved 500 marks prior to hyperinflation, this amount did not increase as prices did. The value of these savings stayed at 500 marks. The destruction in the value of savings particularly hit the middle classes in Germany.
Debts and Loans
Here is where there were some winners from hyperinflation. Particularly anyone with debts who found that they were easily repayable as the value of these debts did not increase either.