Written on February 21, 2011
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Flag of Germany
The Federal Republic of Germany is located in Western Europe.

In 1871, 25 states united and formed the German Empire. Germany lost World War I in 1918 and had to pay heavy damages. Amist a difficult economic situation, Adolf Hitler takes power in 1933 and starts WWII in 1939. Defeated in 1945, Germany was divided in 1949: West Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland), one of the European Union founding nation, and East Germany (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik), part of the communist block. They were reunited following the Berlin Wall fall on November 9, 1989.

Map of Germany


Prior to the unification, each state minted its own currency. In 1876, the Goldmark became German Empire only legal tender. It was so named because it was pegged to gold. In 1914, pegging to gold stopped. The Papiermark (paper mark) suffered a serious loss of value through hyperinflation following World War I. It was replaced in 1923 by the Rentenmark worst 1000 billions Papiermarks. In 1924, the Reichsmark finally replaced the Papiermark while Rentenmark notes and coins were still valid.

After WWII, the United States, France and United Kingdom decided for a new currency named Deutsche Mark. Its rate was 1 DM = 1 RM for the first 40 reichsmarks, then 1 DM = 10 RM. This created inflation in East Germany, which quickly created the Ostmark. Reunified Germany opted for the Deutsche Mark.

On January 1, 2002, Germany was the first state fully switching to the Euro. Other Euro countries kept both currencies for two months. The rate was 1 euro = 1,95583 Deutsche Mark.


Mint Letters

Five mints currently produce coins. Two other did it in the past. Each mint puts a letter on the coins as follow:
A Berlin
B Vienna (1938-1944)
D Munich
E Muldenhütten (1887-1953)
F Stuttgart
G Karlsruhe
J Hamburg


Some coins may be hard to read as they show Gothic script. You may use the below table:
Blackletter table
The S shows differently depending on whether it is at word start or middle ( long S: ſ ) or at the end (round S: s).

Notice that a ligature is used when an S is followed by another S or a Z. they do an eszett (ß) : ß = ſs or ſz (ss or sz).

National Symbols


The eagle is the German sovereigns emblem since the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle ages. It was bicephalous at the time. It became one-headed when German Empire was installed in 1871. After WWII, the eagle became Western Germany symbol. President Heuss decided of its flag and coat of arms in 1949.

Geramn eagle in 1871 Today's German eagle

Eastern Germany coat of arms

This coat of arms was chosen on September 26, 1955. It shows on almost every Eastern Germany coins. It displays a hammer (workers symbol) and a compass (intelligentsia) surrounded by rye ears (peasants).

Coat of Arms of Eastern Germany

(Map and pictures provided by Wikipedia)