Currency Exchange Rates

By Christian Ankerstjerne

Official Rates, 1939

These exchange rates were used in a German intelligence document, published in 1939.

Country 100 of currency in Reichmark 100 Reichmark in currency
France (Francs) 16.41 609.37
Great Britain (Pounds) 1224.00 8.17
Italy (Lira) 20.08 498.00
United States (Dollars) 248.00 40.32

Western Europe, 1940

These exchange rates are those imposed by Germany following the invasion in 1940:

Country 100 of currency in Reichmark 100 Reichmark in currency
The Netherlands (Guilder) 150.00 66.66
Belgium (Francs) 10.00 1000.00
Luxembourg (Dollars)

European Countries, 1941-1942

The exchange rates in the table below were the Wehrmacht exchange rates. These were the exchange rates used by German forces, which, for occupied countries, were set artificially low. This increased Germany's purchasing power, thus exploiting the occupied countries' economies. As an example, compare the more than three times higher Reichmark/French Franc exchange rate in the 1939 table with that in the table below.

In addition to cash currency, Germany imposed large lines of credit on occupied countries' central banks, which paid for local contracts, essentially forcing the occupied countries to pay for their own occupation.

The full table is listed in a document from 15 April 1942. An earlier document from 27 May 1941 list identical exchange rates for the following countries:

Country 100 of currency in Reichmark 100 Reichmark in currency
Belgium (Francs) 8.00 1250.00
Bulgaria (Leva) 3.08 3250
Croatia (Kuna) 5.00 2000.00
Denmark (Kroner) 52.20 191.57
Finland (Marks) 5.07 1974.33
France (Francs) 5.00 2000.00
Greece (Drachmas) 1.67 6000
Hungary (Pengö) 60.90 164.20
Italy (Lira) 13.15 760,46
Norway (Kroner) 57.00 175,44
Poland (Zloty) 50.00 200.00
Portugal (Escudo) 10.05 995.02
Romania (Leu) 1.67 6000.00
Russia (Rubles) 10.00 1000.00
Serbia (Dinar) 5.00 2000.00
Slovakia (Koruna) 8.60 1162.79
Spain (Pesetas) 23.58 424.09
Sweden (Kronor) 59.52 168.01
The Netherlands (Guilder) 13.27 753.57

Greece, July to October 1943

The status reports of 1. Panzer-Division, which was stationed in Greece from July to October 1943, provides an excellent insight into the financial exploitation of Greece in particular, and of occupied countries in general, by the German army. Note above that, on 15 April 1942, the exchange rate was 1 to 60.

The soldiers' morale is excellent, and they are enthusiastic. Part of the reason for this is the low exchange rate for Drachmas, which the troops do not fully comprehend. […]

Status Report, 1 July 1943

The soldiers' morale is very good, and they are enthusiastic. The increase of the exchange rate for Drachmas from 1 to 600 to 1 to 1200 has been very beneficial. […]

Status Report, 1 August 1943

The soldiers' morale is good, and they are enthusiastic. The increase of the exchange rate for Drachmas to 1 to 2400, as well as the small increase in vacation quotas, have been beneficial. […]

Status Report, 1 October 1943

Sources

  1. Wehrwirtschaftliches Unterrichtsmaterial Heft 7 - Das Devisenrecht der deutschen Wehrmacht - Grundriß. 1942. 45 p.
  2. Meldung vom 1. Oktober 1943. 1. Panzer-Division, 1943. 3 p. 1.Pz.Div. Ia Nr. 766/43 g.Kdos.
  3. Meldung vom 1. August 1943. 1. Panzer-Division, 1943. 4 p. 1.Pz.Div. Ia Nr. 660/43 g.Kdos.
  4. Meldung vom 1. Juli 1943. 1. Panzer-Division, 1943. 4 p. 1.Pz.Div. Ia Nr. 582/43 g.Kdos.
  5. -. Die Wehrausgaben von 1935 (ausschl. Ergänzungskredite) in Landeswährung und RM. Berlin : -, 1939. 1 p.
  6. Busch, Ernst. Sonderbestimmungen für die Verwaltung und Befreidung der besetzten Gebiete Belgiuns und Luxemburgs. Armeeoberkommando 16, 1940. 20 p. AOK 16 Abt. O.Qu. Nr. 85/40 g.Kdos.Ch.Sache.
  7. Reinecke. Zahlungsregelung für die Wehrmacht in Nordost-, Ost- und Sudosteuropa. Berlin : Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 1941. 7 p.