Five-euro coin valid only in Germany taps into D-Mark nostalgia

Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:49am EDT
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By Paul Carrel

BERLIN (Reuters) - A limited edition five-euro coin issued by Germany's Bundesbank has tapped into a deep sense of nostalgia among Germans for Deutschmarks, to which the newly minted money bears a close resemblance.

Germany's old five-Mark coin was a favorite among households until the national currency was physically replaced with euro notes and coins in 2002.

A rush for the five-euro coins, leading people to queue for almost an hour at the Bundesbank's Berlin office on Tuesday, has coincided with antipathy among conservatives towards the euro's guardian, the European Central Bank.

"The euro is, at the moment, good for our export economy," said Joerg Mueller as he waited. "But we're worried about the southern euro countries. Italy is saddled with debt and France isn't much better."

Many Germans were reluctant to give up the Deutschmark, which symbolized Germany's post-war economic revival. The Bundesbank estimates that 12.9 billion Marks (worth 6.6 billion euros or $7.48 billion) were still being hoarded at the end of 2015. They can still be exchanged for euros at any time.

Dubbed the five-euro 'Planet Earth' coins, the new euros bear a picture of the world and the cosmos beyond on one side, and on the other a large eagle - just like the old five-Mark coin popularly known as the "Heiermann".

"Germany has got its Heiermann back," wrote Manager Magazin, recalling fondly how Germans used to use the five-Mark coins to buy cigarettes from vending machines, or else squirreled them away to save up for holidays.

That thriftiness is at the root of discontent among Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives with the low-interest rates policies of the ECB, which they complain are creating a "gaping hole" in savers' finances as returns have dropped.   Continued...

The new German commemorative five euro coin 'Planet Erde' ('Planet Earth') with a blue polymer ring, is displayed in Frankfurt, Germany, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo