Mystery of Germany's 13bn missing Deutsche Marks


Click to follow
The Independent Online

German mistrust of the euro was graphically illustrated by new figures published yesterday which revealed that over 13 billion worth of Deutsche Marks were still unaccounted for a decade after the introduction of the single currency

A spokesman for the German Federal Bank said DM 6.41bn in notes and a further DM 6.9bn in coins were never converted after the euro was introduced on New Year's day 2002.

Most of the missing Marks were reported to have been privately stashed away by Germans. But large amounts of cash were also thought to be hidden in the former Yugoslavia, where it was used as a hard currency during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The sums still unaccounted for would amount to €6.8bn (£5.6bn), a sum which according to a Deutsche Bank estimate, would give the German economy an additional boost of 0.27 per cent if it were brought back into circulation.

However a Federal Bank spokesman told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper yesterday that it was likely that most of the lost Deutsche Marks would never be converted into euros. The bank continues to exchanges DM currency for euros free of charge. Last year it converted some DM 140m into euros – a drop of DM 40m compared to 2010.

Recent polls have indicated that up to 54 per cent of Germans would like to see the Mark reintroduced. However, the same poll, published in late 2011, also showed that only 43 per cent of Germans thought they would actually benefit from such a move. Fifty one per cent thought there would be no change.

Germans' emotional attachment to the Mark is frequently cited as one of the main motives behind calls for its reintroduction. The currency is regarded as one of the cornerstones of the economic miracle of the 1960s and it played a major role in creating post-war West Germany's identity.

By contrast, reunited Germany has come to mistrust the euro in the 10 years since its introduction. Surveys suggest that up to 80 per cent of the electorate fear the euro crisis is bound to get worse before it gets better.