After the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919, Germany had to accept financial responsibility for World War I and pay 132 billion German Marks. Since it was impossible to pay such a high amount, Germany started printing banknotes in high volume. This led to hyperinflation from 1921 to 1923 which affected Germany’s economy greatly. 50 Marks were equal to one US Dollar in January 1920. However, by November 1923, as many as 4,200,000,000,000 Marks were equal to one US Dollar!
A 10,000 Mark German note was issued in January 1922 with three different reverse design and a common obverse design. One variety features an eagle inside a rectangular box with designs. The second type shows the same eagle without the rectangular box. The third type was like the second variety, but was smaller in size.
The obverse side depicts a painting called Portrait of a Young Man by one of Germany’s most popular renaissance painters, Albrecht Durer. The engraver made a unique addition to the design too. When you turn the note to the left at 90-degrees, you see a face and an open mouth on the man’s neck. The man also seems to be wearing a black hood over his head. The notes are called “Vampire Note” due to this design.
This design appropriately represented the anti-French sentiment in Germany. France was like a Vampire, sucking blood out of Germany, as the Treaty of Versailles was signed in France. Even though the German Central Bank noticed this alteration, the printing continued to show their dissatisfaction towards France.
Image Courtesy: PMG