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Plebiscite notgeld issues


At the end of WWI, several elections were held by certain areas, to resolve the question of who a town wanted to be governed by. Did the inhabitants want their land to be part of Germany or not? Town councils had definate views of their own, which they were able to depict on the notgeld they were issuing. This was basically due to the drawing up of a new European map. Elections/referenda were held in the following 3 regions on the dates stated:

  1. Upper Silesia plebiscite - Mar. 20th 1921 Germany/Poland (Ober-Schlesien)
  2. East Prussian plebiscite - Jul. 11th 1920 Germany/Poland
  3. Schleswig-Holstein plebiscite - Feb. 10th 1920 Germany/Denmark (Slesvig)

Many collectors will have come across notgeld depicting plebiscite related scenes. Some that spring to mind are the Flensburg 'tug-of-war' (both sides trying to win the vote) and the Broager note (see above) depicting a Danish flag falling from the sky. Legend has it that during a Danish attempt to conquer and christen the 'heathens' in Estonia, there was a battle on the 15th of June 1219. At first the battle went bad for the Danes, but suddenly 'Dannebrog' (the Danish flag) fell from the sky, and the battle turned and the Danes won. I think that is the symbolism of the falling flag on the notgeld. Furthermore, there is the Broager name. This is the Danish name for the town - the German name is Broacker, so I think that that's another hint that it's pro-Danish. The inscription 'IN DEO SPES' translates as 'HOPE IN GOD'. Schleswig-Holstein (in past times, 2 seperate areas) had been under Prussian control since 1864, as part of the Prussian invasion of Danish Jutland. (Slesvig which often appears on these plebiscite issues, is the Danish name for the area known as Schleswig). For over 1000 years the kingdom of Denmark reached in the south down to the river Eider. In 1920, the year of the plebiscite, the nothern part (zone I) was reunited with Denmark, and zone II stayed under Germany. The German depicted on the front of the note, holds his flag proudly.


The other note depicting the map, shows part of the peace settlement being worked out. Where were the new borders to be drawn? Towns that appear on the map (eg) Tinglev, Vojens, Flensborg, Graasten and Gramby itself, all produced plebiscite issues.

The German people felt resentment to these referenda. Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) was removed from German control without even a vote! Notgeld from Danzig are highly collected and usually fetch high prices when they come up for sale.



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