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German Notgeld Notes


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Hi, I have done a bit of research on these notes, I have found the artist who did them and the town and a bit of its history. These notes are not dealing with local Kahla issues but probably more national in nature. I have translated what I can (thats most of the notes). On the whole I am a bit lost as to the meaning of much of the subject matter. Maybe someone else might have some ideas and further clarrification as to what is being depicted.

 

KAHLA 75 PFENNIG SERIES NOTES 1921

 

 

 

 

This is a set of small denomination German Series Notes (Serienscheine) printed and distributed by the town of Kahla in 1921. This is an interesting series of notes bearing cartoon illustrations with short sociopolitical themed messages. These cartoons are signed Olaf G. and are the work of cartoonist, caricaturist, illustrator Olaf Gulbransson.

 

kahlasig.jpg

 

Gulbransson was born in Christiania (Oslo) Norway the son of a book printer. He was a published illustrator and cartoonist with a distinctive style contributing to many different publications, notably the German Sociopolitical Publication 'Simplicissimus'. He was drafted into the military in 1916 while in Munich and was eventually posted to the department of propaganda where he created his stylistic caricatures in service to the state for the war effort.

 

He joined the Arts Academy, became professor at the State Art School in Munich and his work was exhibited on several occasions and published in numerous newspapers. In 1933, the Art Academy in Berlin held an exhibition in honor of his 65th birthday, it was closed two days later by an order of the National Socialists. Although Simplicissimus became a national-socialist propaganda magazine at this time, Gulbransson continued to work for the magazine contributing his caricatures for politics and propaganda until the final issue in 1944.

 

Common reverse of these bills save for the serial numbers.

 

kahladetailback.jpg

 

There are 6 notes here:

 

(1)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: men of different nationalities toasting beer - Starkbier Macht Einigkeit (Strong Beer, unity and power) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla01.jpg

 

kahladetail1.jpg

 

 

(2)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: Same men from the first note now fighting - Eingkeit Macht Stark (Unity is Stregth) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla02.jpg

 

kahladetail2a.jpg

 

kahladetail2b.jpg

 

kahladetail2c.jpg

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The next set, I must admit, the subject matter baffles me. Hard to say what this is supposed to be depicting:

 

(3)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: Corpulent man in armor and the initials RF shooting arrows at mercury who is tied to a tree, on the phone, possibly taking reservations: Der Deutsche Merkur (The German Mercury) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla06.jpg

 

kahla06detail1.jpg

 

kahla06detail2.jpg

 

kahla06detail3.jpg

 

 

(4)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: Corpulent man in armor (initials RF) sweating after shooting arrows at mercury still tied to a tree, on the phone, possibly taking reservations with arrow: Der Deutsche Merkur (The German Mercury) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla05.jpg

 

kahla05detail3.jpg

 

kahla05detail2.jpg

 

kahla05detail1.jpg

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Here are the last two. Again, subject matter hard to say. It would help if I could correctly translate what are on the slips of paper the man is sweeping up and maybe what the skeleton is writing. They are both wearing stocking caps, is this a reference to michael?

 

(5)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: Man (with cap) Sweeping, garbage has a bible and notes / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla03.jpg

 

kahladetail3.jpg

 

kahladetail3a.jpg

 

 

(6)

 

Gutschein der Stadt Kahla 75 pf. (Credit Note for the city of Kahla about 3/4 Mark or 75 pfennig): Depicted on the obverse: Skeletal man in cap with paint writing on a pillar: Sylvesternacht 1921-1922 Deutscher Spuk in Paris (New Years Eve 1921-1922 Germans Spit in Paris) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

kahla04.jpg

 

kahla04detail1.jpg

 

kahla04detail2.jpg

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The next set, I must admit, the subject matter baffles me. Hard to say what this is supposed to be depicting:

 

Depicted on the obverse: Corpulent man in armor and the initials RF shooting arrows at mercury who is tied to a tree, on the phone, possibly taking reservations: Der Deutsche Merkur (The German Mercury) / Depicted on the Reverse is a tree with notes falling like leaves / Ausgabetag 1, Dez. 1921 - Verfalltag 31, Dez. 1921 (Issued Dec 1, 1921 - Expires Dec. 31, 1921) / Signed by the Mayor and Council representative / illustration signed Olaf G. (artist: Olaf Gulbransson)

 

The "Corpulent man in armor and the initials RF" is the personification of France, RF = Republique Francaise and the poor German Mercury has to sign with his own blood the payments for the reparations ordered after World War I.

 

The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay the reparations in the aftermath of World War I.

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This relates to the Second World War, but I assume German POWs were kept as 'slave labour' after 1918 too, hence the starving German worker in Paris.

 

TREATMENT OF GERMAN POWS BY FRANCE

In a secret deal, the United States agreed to give up captured German soldiers to European states after the war to rebuild the countries Germany destroyed.

 

According to Arnold Krammer’s book, "Nazi Prioners of War in America, more than 700,000 German POWs were sent to France. Of those, 200,000 worked on farms, 55,000 in mines, 40,000 in construction, and 30,000 in forestry. There is no mention regarding where the remaining 375,000 men worked. Many men who were put into labor battalions in France worked no longer than three or four months; however, thousands more were kept for several years.

 

The French were motivated by vengeance as much as by the genuine need for labor; however, “as late as April, 1947, the French government still retained in excess of 440,000 German prisoners.” It was only because of the intercession of the American government (American citizens were infuriated by what they called ’slave labor’) that France offered repatriation to all German prisoners under its control. The other option was to remain in Franch as voluntary salaried workers. The vast majority of the men wanted to go home, but about 10,000 remained to work until mid-1948"

LINK to German POWs detained in France 1920-25 United Nations Geneva.

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The German hyperinflation following World War I, though not the worst hyperinflation in the 20th Century (that honor belongs to Hungary 1945-46 and Yugoslavia 1992-94), is certainly the most famous. Stories abound of people carrying money in wheelbarrows. Actually wheelbarrows were rarely, if ever used to carry money. Suitcases were the preferred method of transport.

The inflation was triggered by a huge increase in the nation's money supply, caused in part by the heavy demands of the reparations placed upon Germany following its loss in World War I. Soon an inflationary mentality set in. Merchants would raise prices automatically. People would hoard goods, figuring the price would go up, thus causing shortages. The vast quantities of money were issued not only by the German central bank (The Reichsbank), but also by numerous communities, cities, states and companies, only compounded the inflation.

 

Perhaps the notes falling from the tree is a play on 'money does not grow on trees'

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I've had this set of notes for a couple of years myself, and it's one of my favorite series, partly because of the mystery surrounding the meaning of the notes. Thanks for posting your research on this!

 

Until now, All I knew was that the RF likely meant Republic of France, and the German Mercury. My German skills are poor to begin with, but these notgeld have other 'dialects' I suppose that make translation extreemly difficult. I have had no luck whatsoever in translating the text on the slips of paper being swept up, and as far as I can tell, the German Ghost in Paris is aplying a poster that is quite undecipherable - I can't make it out to be German or French.

 

I'd thought that the fellow sweeping the slips of paper was sweeping the scrip falling from the trees on the other side of the notes, but then there's also the small bible that's also put into that trash heap, which implies somethign of greater significance that the text on those notes must allude to.

 

Silversternacht is, I believe, New Years Eve, and the "German Ghost" (Deutscher Spuk) I suppose could be a german worker, but it makes more sense to me that he's likely a ghost of the dead soldier or dead German spirit in france. The key is likely in that cryptic verse of the bill he's posting.

 

Hope that someone who's able to decipher it all posts more.

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kahladetail3.jpg

 

 

Ehrlich währt am längsten = Honesty is the best

Liebe deinen Nächsten wie dich selbst = Love your neighbour as yourself(found in Leviticus 19:18)

Seid einig! einig! einig! = Be united! united! united! (The quotation was in the 19th Century politically charged see below)

Tue recht und scheue niemand = Do right and fear no man

Du sollst nicht ehebrechen = Thou shalt not commit adultery(one of God's ten commandments) Jaeger_Schillerfeier_1859__800x1296_.jpg

From: (Goethe time portal) and URL (http://www.goethezeitportal.de/index.php?id=4172).

 

I guess in the traumatic post-war period all the old values & ethics of the German People were being swept away(along with the bible & its teachings) .........

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kahla04detail1.jpg

 

From Wikipedia;

 

"The writing on the wall" (or sometimes "handwriting on the wall"), an idiom, is a portent of doom or misfortune. It originates in the Biblical book of Daniel—where supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire. The phrase is widely used in language and literature.

In the book of Daniel,[1] King Belshazzar of Babylon during a drunken feast takes sacred golden and silver vessels, which had been removed from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem by his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar. Using these holy items, the King and his court praise 'the gods of gold and silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone'. Immediately, the disembodied fingers of a human hand appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words מנא ,מנא, תקל, ופרסין (Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin

 

I guess for Babylon read France & for Jerusalem(Israel) read Germany. The French, in the German eyes, were plundering Germany & 'the writing on the wall' foretold the destruction of the French, & was almost a prediction of WW II?

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Wow! Thanks for such an interesting post. I could almost start collecting that series of notes. The art is wonderful, the imagery and symbolism even better.

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Thanks a bunch for all that info, I was able to translate some of the slips but because they are a bit blocked in places I had a hard time putting anything together. These bills are a good bit clearer for me now. I knew they were being printed post WWI in the build-up to real problems and war, I did not make the connection of the archer being France. I knew Mercury was Germany but did not make the connection as to why he is on the phone taking orders, I thought he was taking reservations. Either way it is regarding the reparations, this would be at a time when Germany is about to default on payments, be occupied, workers strikes, hyperinflation, the works....not to mention not only its problems with other nations but within.

 

I must admit I simply attempted to run the words the skeleton was writing in a translator for French, German and a few others...should have done a search on the words, there is plenty of info on what is written on the pillar. Interesting it being used here in 1921, with the scene in France and the bill in Germany. A bit prophetic.

 

Now does the cap the skeleton and the man sweeping hold any meaning? I believe the man in the stocking cap is supposed to be michael, the average german. Often depicted by a man in a sleeping cap? So you have him sweeping away a bible, some verses and political slogans 'unity!' and in skeletal form in France putting the writing on the wall.

 

Tue recht und scheue niemand = Do right and fear no man

 

I just remembered where I last saw that...I have the same phrase on an old medal from Strasbourg minted about 250 years earlier:

 

"Thue recht scheu niemand"

 

strasbourg.jpg

 

strasbourg1.jpg

 

 

 

All very interesting, thanks for the help.

 

 

http://www.bibleinsight.com/menep1.html

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Terrific thread. On seeing Der Deutsche Merkur I immediately thought of St Stephen's martydom, the guy punctured with countless arrows, but I don't see how that might relate to Mercury... And I must confess to thinking of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where near the beginning we see a tombstone with the epitaph "BE JUST AND FEAR NOT." :ninja:

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kahla06.jpgkahla05.jpg

"Germanic Mercury" = Norse Óðinn (Odin), Old English Woden, Old High German Wuotan(Wotan). Wednesday is named for him.

 

Mercury was also the messenger of the gods. I think it is possible in this instance he represents Germany(and/or the German delegation on the phone awaiting instructions from Berlin) being forced by France(who considers it hard work: note the sweat) to sign The Treaty of Versailles, France was the main antagonist at Versailles.

 

 

From Wikipedia;

 

While both American and British leaders wanted to come to a fair and reasonable deal, France's interests were much more aggressive and demanding as many of the battles had been fought on French soil. Although they had agreed after the treaty was signed many world leaders agreed that some of France's demands were far too harsh and unsympathetic. France had lost some 1.5 million military personnel and an estimated 400,000 civilians to the war. (See World War I casualties) To appease the French public, Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau wanted to impose policies meant to cripple Germany militarily, politically, and economically, so as never to be able to invade France again.

On 29 April the German delegation under the leadership of the Foreign Minister Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau arrived in Versailles. On 7 May when faced with the conditions dictated by the victors, including the so-called "War Guilt Clause", von Brockdorff-Rantzau replied to Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George: We know the full brunt of hate that confronts us here. You demand from us to confess we were the only guilty party of war; such a confession in my mouth would be a lie. Because Germany was not allowed to take part in the negotiations, the German government issued a protest against what it considered to be unfair demands, and a "violation of honour" and soon afterwards, withdrew from the proceedings of the Treaty of Versailles.

 

Germans of all political shades denounced the treaty—particularly the provision that blamed Germany for starting the war—as an insult to the nation's honour. They referred to the treaty as "the Diktat" since its terms were presented to Germany on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Germany's first democratically elected Chancellor, Philipp Scheidemann refused to sign the treaty and resigned. In a passionate speech before the National Assembly on 12 March 1919, he called the treaty a "murderous plan" and exclaimed,

Which hand, trying to put us in chains like these, would not wither? The treaty is unacceptable.

After Scheidemann's resignation, a new coalition government was formed under Gustav Bauer. After being informed that the army was not capable of any meaningful resistance, the new government recommended signing the treaty.

 

 

When one considers that the Notes first show the begining of the war, the time frame could fit and appear, to me at least, to be a real possibilty for the meaning of these notes showing Der Deutsche Merkur being forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

 

Thanks Frank, for pushing me to think a bit deeper.

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Good stuff, constanius. I love learning history.

On my way to work this morning I suddenly realized that it wasn't St Stephen who was martyred with arrows; it was St Sebastian. Stephen was rocks. Moreover, Sebastian apparently didn't die from his surfeit of arrows; he was still miraculously alive enough to harangue Diocletian who was passing by, and the emperor then had him clubbed to death.

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