I have a 5-mark German banknote (I think from 1941 or 1942), looking exactly like this:enter image description hereenter image description here

I am curious why the banknote not only does not bear a portrait of Hitler, but doesn't include any German state symbols. The only swastika on the banknote is in the stamp of the Reichsbank (which is not a part of the banknote design).

Given the known Nazi interest in symbolism this is quite surprising.

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    Interesting question given the propensity to brand everything. Today the symbol is banned in Germany so even a display of old timetables at the airport to mark some Lufthansa anniversary recently had little black stickers over the offending logo.
    – none
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:28
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    You could search for a banknote from before nazi taking power, and see if it features the same design.
    – o0'.
    Mar 13, 2012 at 18:44
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    @Lohoris: That would be pointless - it is an Occupation Reichsmark, those were printed specifically for occupied territories and never circulated within Germany. They are entirely different from the "regular" Reichsmark. Mar 14, 2012 at 11:26
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    First, you are wrong, he conbined the post of president with that of chancellor. He was undoubtly head of state. But anyway it is not necessary print exactly to heads of state on the banknotes. Very often revolutionary leaders got printed as Lenin in the USSR even after his death. If you look at the Soviet money at the time, btw, you will see portraits of Lenin and multiple instances of state symbols including the state emblem, symbols of Communism such as hammer and sickle and five-pointed stars in various combinations. US dollars also included the president and the seal.
    – Anixx
    Mar 14, 2012 at 14:39
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    So maybe the use of state symbols was prohibited on occupation marks? Or on banknotes?
    – Anixx
    Mar 17, 2012 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


The currency you posted is from an occupied territory, see the related wikipedia link.

If you read carefully, it says: Reichskreditkassen on the bottom, Nazi Germany issued these notes in occupied territories which weren't considered to the Reich's territory.

Note that these notes had completely different rules than real Reichsmarks, for example they were legal tender only in occupied territories, and couldn't be subject of a negotiation inside the Reich. Also the fact that it was independent from Reichsmarks, it added a layer of protection of real Reichsmarks. For example it could have been inflated separately from real Reichmarks. Take a note: 5 Reichmarks in German territories were minted on silver coins (I have one), not notes, an important difference!

Read more interesting facts of your banknote here.

I have only a subjective opinion on why didn't they have Swastika, since the webpages only give clues, not definite answers: The occupied territories had their own currency in this form, maybe this was easier to accept as legal tender than Reichsmarks. It was printed very differently to make it easier to separate from real Reichsmarks. Real Reichsmarks were printed approximately 3:4 ratio while occupation Marks were printed on the whole surface.

But if you check out other - in-Reich - notes, for some strange reason swastika doesn't seem to be overly used on banknotes unlike on coins.

  • A good answer..
    – fdb
    Jul 22, 2014 at 13:50

Fascinating question.

Thank you for your comment on my first guess/answer, @Lohoris, it caused me to keep digging.

Revised answer:

I found pictures of German bank notes from the 1940s that do include the Nazi swastika and the swastika/eagle. For example, the "XX RARE CRISP UNCIRC WW2 NAZI BILL w SWASTIKAS 1 HUGE" has a large faint black swastika in the background and the "NAZI GERMANY CURRENCY RARE 20 REICHSMARK LARGE SWASTIKA IN MIDDLE OF NOTE" has both symbols. Here's a large image of the latter I found on a different site

20 Mark Banknote, 1939 - Crisp Uncirculated - RARE.

  • Quite a weak argument, sorry: the state flag became the nazi flag, so I don't see why this couldn't apply to the money too.
    – o0'.
    May 15, 2012 at 21:14
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    Excellent point, @Lohoris, and thank you. I kept digging and revised my answer. May 15, 2012 at 21:52
  • I've no idea why, but that site redirects me to google O_o
    – o0'.
    May 15, 2012 at 22:00
  • @Lohoris: Odd. The link still works for me. Try googling for "Nazi swastika currency" and the link is the eighth one shown. May 15, 2012 at 22:08
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    In numismatics, "uncirculated" refers to the condition of the banknote or coin. May 16, 2012 at 14:10

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