Reichsbanknote (F-3196720), UNC
92 mm x 182 mm (3-1/2” x 7-1/8”)
HISTORY: The Reichsbank was founded in 1876, serving as the Central Bank of Germany until 1945, with headquarters in Berlin. On August 30, 1924, the Reichsbank began issuing Reichsbanknotes, following two years of hyperinflation in Germany after paying off massive debts incurred from World War I reparations.
Two concurrent events took place in 1933 that changed the world. Hjalmar Schacht (1877–1970) was placed as the president of the Reichsbank (serving between 1933 and 1939) while Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), with his Nazi Party (1933–1945), had taken control of the German government. Interestingly, Schacht stepped down in January 1939 — the year Hitler took complete control of the Reichsbank.
This 100 Reichsmark note celebrates both the past and the future of German history.
OBVERSE: The German past is highlighted with the cameo portrait of Justus von Liebig (1803–1873), featured on the right side of this Reichsbanknote. Liebig, a German chemist, made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry. He was known as the Father of the Fertilizer Industry, impacting the science of agriculture worldwide. The white space on the left is a watermark of Liebig’s portrait.
Text in the center confirms the date of issue (August 30, 1924) and provides the signatures of the directors of the Reichsbank who served during 1935. In the shadows behind the text, however, is the swastika of the Third Reich, already a presence in the nation’s currency.
REVERSE: The reverse is complicated. At once, it illustrates the mythical past. “Lady” Freyja (goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and knowledge) to the right, cradling a chemist’s Florence flask in her hands. A tube loops from the top of the flask and discharges into a small orb, perhaps the image of an atomic nucleus mass, a tribute to Liebig’s research. On the left is either Freyja’s daughter Hnoss (goddess of desire) or Gersemi (goddess of beauty), looking lovingly toward her mother.
Then again, it illustrates the future. The summer Olympics (Games of the XI Olympiad) was to be held in Berlin the following year, 1936. The central image on this note shows an Arian athlete carrying the Olympic torch.