Occupation Duty, Germany, late 1945
#1

Occupation Duty - Germany - late 1945

 

The United States made a terrible mistake when it agreed to use a common Occupation currency throughout Germany, east and west. German Deutsche marks were worthless, now that the government had fallen. The U.S. gave the other occupying powers duplicate plates for printing the Occupation Marks being used by the Americans. There was little problem with the British and the French, but the Russians really took us for a ride.

 

The Russians had not paid their soldiers throughout the War other than providing them with necessities. When the War ended, these soldiers were mostly in Germany and they were paid off in full, for all their years of Wartime service, with Occupation Marks printed from the American plates. They were not permitted to convert any of this money to Rubles nor to send it home, but could only spend it in Germany. Of course, the Germans had nothing to sell them and they would have stolen it, rather than buy it, in any case. So American liquor which cost us $1 per ration bottle, brought $50 a bottle from the Russians, a pack of American cigarettes for which we paid 5 cents would bring $10 in occupation currency. Cheap, used wrist watches went for $200.

 

The American soldier could then go to his mail clerk and convert these Occupation Marks into a postal money order which he could send home where it was converted to American dollars. In this way, the Russian Government got the American Government to pay for a large part of their soldiers’ wartime pay and the American consumer paid for it in the postwar inflation which took place in the U.S. in 1946-47.

 

The problem, of course, was in making contact with the Russians which was not easy. We were deployed on opposite sides of the Fulda River. (Allies who didn’t trust each other!) But with opportunistic combat vets on both sides, eager to take advantage of the situation, many were able to find a way. Enterprising vets, both American and Russian, skilled in evading odious regulations, found ways.

 

Shortly before I came home, the Army finally smartened up and instituted a currency control system whereby no one could send home more money in postal money orders than he received in pay.

 

Russ Cloer - 3_7_I_Recon

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#2

Recon, I remember it well just as you posted it. Our go betweens (U.S. to Russian) were many times D.P.'s. (displaced persons). Cigarettes and cheap (specially Mickey

Mouse watches) watches sent to us were used mainly. Until the regulation of sending home ONLY what one "drew across the pay board". Then for some unscrouplious mail

clerks it was one dollar sent cost you ten dollars in Oc. currency. Dont know how they did it. However, cigarettes were the real trade medium in the German civilian world. A shave or haircut was usually one cigarette. A bottle of wine, schanpps, beer, or whatever was also paid in cigarettes preferably, same as any tailoring, having jackets made, photo work , meals or anything. It got so that the Army tried to keep tabs on

cigarette sales, but that too was gotten around. After all fifty cents per carton cigarettes

were worth about $200.00. Some of the "wise old guys" made a good buck and sent it

home, while us "uknowing kids" just didnt bother that much. I just cant help but wonder how long this "cigarette economy" lasted there. Anyone there after we went home let me know.

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#3

Gee gentlemen, with the price of cigarettes (here in Michigan) and gasoline across the states, one would think we were under "occupation" now! :rolleyes:

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#4

I was TDY in Weimar Germany when rhe war ended. Serving as an escort for German patients inGerman military hospitals . They were classed asunarmed citizens. That is another story. 22 GI medics had this job for 90 days. We ate and slept in their hospitals They fed us.

There was no money and NOTHING to buy. One time I did get a beer. gratis!

 

After that we all went PCS to Marsielles Fr. Here it was a different story. 2 NCOs One motor Sgt. One section Sgt. rounded up a case and a 1/2 of cigarettes. some Mickey mouse watches and lighters from the PX. Duplicated a vehicle numher of a wrecked Jeep ion the motor pool. put a false bottom in a jeep trailer and cut false orders to Berlin. They both had real leave papers just in case. They were run off the road near Dijon Fr. Given a new Jeep from Depot stock and made it to Berlin and back. cigarettes sold for 20 a pack 200 a carton. MOst Russian soldiers had 5 thousand dollars pay a one time deal for the end fo the war.

Each had over 10000 dollars after they swapped their national currency for US dollars in the staging areas crap games. My NCO mailedd his home ina shoe box.

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#5

Holy cow, Batman! Those are some PRICES! Goes to show you how much folks will pay when in a crisis! :wacko: I'm sure there are thousands of incidents just like this one.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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