Quotations: 1923 hyperinflation

This page contains a number of Weimar Republic quotations pertaining to the hyperinflation of 1923 and other economic problems in the early republic. These quotations have been researched, curated and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest a quotation for inclusion on this page, please contact us.

“In proportion to the need, less money circulates in Germany now than before the war. This statement may cause surprise but it is correct. The circulation is now 15–20 times that of pre-war days while prices have risen 40 to 50 times.”
Julius Wolf, economics professor, 1922

“The bloody uproar of the war is over: let’s enjoy the carnival of the inflation. It’s loads of fun and paper, printed paper, flimsy stuff – do they still call it money? For five billion of it, you can get one dollar. What a joke! The Yankees are coming but as peaceful tourists this time. They purchase a Rembrandt for a sandwich and our souls for a glass of whisky. Krupp and Stinnes get rid of their debts, we of our savings. The profiteers dance in the palace hotels.”
Klaus Mann, 1923

“The price of tram rides and beef, theatre tickets and school, newspapers and haircuts, sugar and bacon, is going up every week. As a result, no one knows how long their money will last and people are living in constant fear, thinking of nothing but eating and drinking, buying and selling. There is only one topic on everyone’s lips in Berlin: the dollar, the mark and prices.”
Eugeni Xammar, Spanish journalist in Berlin, February 1923

“To follow the suggestion of stopping the printing of notes would mean refusing to German economic life the circulating medium necessary for transactions, payments of salaries and wages. It would mean that in a very short time, the entire public, and above all the Reich, could no longer pay merchants, employees, or workers. In a few weeks, factories, mines, railways, and post offices, national and local government – in short, all national and economic life – would be stopped.”
Karl Helfferich, German politician and economist, 1923

“I vividly remember paydays… I used to have to accompany the manager to the bank in an open six-seater Benz, which we filled to the brim with bundles and bundles of million and milliard [billion] mark notes. We then drove back through the narrow streets, quite unmolested. And when the workmen got their wages, they did not even bother to count the notes in each bundle.”
A transport clerk recalls the hyperinflation of 1923

“Some of them looked like fierce Amazons, strutting in high boots made of green, glossy leather. One of them brandished a supple cane and leered at me as I passed by. ‘Good evening, madam’, I said. So she whispered into my ear: ‘Want to be my slave? Costs only six billion and a cigarette. A bargain.'”
Klaus Mann on prostitutes in Berlin, 1923

“It pounds daily on the nerves: the insanity of numbers, the uncertain future… An epidemic of fear and naked need: lines of shoppers, long since a customary sight, once more form in front of shops, first in front of one, then in front of all… The lines always send the same signal: the city, the big stone city, will be shopped empty again. Rice, 80,000 marks a pound yesterday, costs 160,000 marks today, and tomorrow perhaps twice as much. The day after, the man behind the counter will shrug his shoulders: “No more rice!”
Friedrich Kroner on hyperinflation, August 1923

“Unknown heights have now been reached. The floating debt increased this morning by 160,000 milliard [billion] paper marks… The shops are demanding pounds, francs, Danish crowns, any other foreign currency you may care to enumerate… Except for things like tram fares we are now charged for most articles a few hundred million more than… present exchange rates in London… The Adlon Hotel charges the equivalent of four pounds or five pounds for a bottle of wine.”
Joseph Addison, British diplomat, September 1923

“Few families can afford meat more than once a week, eggs are unprocurable, milk terribly scarce and bread already 16 times the price of a few days ago… The expensive restaurants are full of well-dressed people drinking wine and eating of the best of Munich, but they are either German-Americans or Ruhr industrialists… No one expects political disturbances but hunger riots are another matter… and the cold, no one can afford central heating. No one images the Rentenmark will help.”
Robert Clive, British consul-general in Munich, October 1923

“Believe me, our misery will increase. The scoundrel will get by. But the decent, solid businessman who doesn’t speculate will be utterly crushed. First, the little fellow on the bottom, but in the end the big fellow on top too. But the scoundrel and the swindler will remain, top and bottom. The reason? Because the state itself has become the biggest swindler and crook, a robbers’ state.”
Adolf Hitler, 1923

“Lingering at shop windows was a luxury because shopping had to be done immediately. Even an additional minute could mean an increase in price. One had to buy quickly. A rabbit, for example, might cost two million marks more by the time it took you to walk into the store. A few million marks meant nothing, really. It was just that it meant more lugging. The packages of money needed to buy the smallest item had long since become too heavy for trouser pockets. They weighed many pounds… People had to start carting their money around in wagons and knapsacks. I used a knapsack.”
George Grosz on the hyperinflation of 1923

“Wir wollen keine Judenfetzen von Berlin!” (‘We don’t want any Jew confetti [paper money] from Berlin’)
A Bavarian farmer, 1923

“At the outset, the masses misinterpreted it as nothing more than a scandalous rise in prices. Only later, under the name of inflation, the process was correctly comprehended as the downfall of money.”
Konrad Heiden, 1944

“The inflation [of 1923] had little direct connection with reparation payments themselves but a great deal to do with the way the German government chose to subsidise industry and to pay the costs of passive resistance to the [Ruhr] occupation by extravagant use of the printing press.”
Philip Bell, historian