The mark (Mk or M) was the first single currency in the German Empire. On December 4, 1871, the gold content of the means of payment was determined by law. One mark corresponded to 0.358423 grams of fine gold. The currency was introduced step by step on January 1, 1876 throughout the Reich and replaced the other national currencies. The mark was legal tender from December 4th, 1871 to August 4th, 1914.
At the beginning of the First World War, the gold backing of the currency was lifted and the coins were no longer made from precious metals. The beginning inflation increased immeasurably until 1923. From 1919 the paper mark was the official means of payment. The designation gold mark and paper mark were introduced later. There should be a distinction between the currency before 1914 and after 1914.
On November 20, 1923, Reich Chancellor Stresemann introduced the Rentenmark. This currency reform ended hyperinflation. The Rentenmark was secured by bonds. On August 30, 1924, the Reichsmark was also introduced. The Reichsmark was again supported by the state. The replacement of the Rentenmark did not take place. Both means of payment had the same abbreviation RM and the same exchange rate: 1 trillion paper marks = 1 Rentenmark or 1 Reichsmark. Both currencies were valid from 1924 until the currency reform in 1948.
The German mark was introduced by the Allies (USA, Great Britain and France) on June 20, 1948. Well-known abbreviations were DM, DEM or D-Mark. The official ISO code was DEM. From June 21, 1948, the German mark was the legal tender in western Germany. Only the Saarland was an exception. The three western sectors in Berlin did not receive the DEM until June 24, 1948. At first the D-Mark was only introduced as a subsidiary currency to the Ostmark and only on March 20, 1949 became the sole currency in the western sector. From January 1, 1957, the Saarland belonged to the FRG and from July 7, 1959, the German mark was also the official currency there.
The currency reform took place by issuing a “bounty”. First, each natural person received an amount of DM 40, – and later another DM 20, -. Existing credits had to be reported to the competent authority by June 26, 1948. The exchange rate was 10: 0.65, i.e. for 100 Reichsmarks you received 6.50 DEM. The exchange rate for wages, rents, taxes and the like was 1: 1.
The conversion of the GDR mark to the German mark as a result of the reunification process took place on July 1, 1990 in different exchange rates. Private individuals could swap 1: 1 up to specified limits. Fixed income and expenses (e.g. salaries, rents) were also due at this rate. The conversion ratio above the specified limits was 2: 1 and for non-GDR citizens even 3: 1.
The independent D-Mark was replaced on January 1, 1999 by the introduction of the euro. Banknotes and coins were valid until December 31, 2001. Until December 2001, bank customers had the option of maintaining their accounts in euros or in DM. From December 31, 2001, all accounts were converted to euros. The fixed exchange rate is 1 EUR = 1.95583 DEM, 1 DEM = 0.51129 EUR. The Deutsche Bundesbank still exchanges Deutsche Mark banknotes and coins at this rate.