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:
Upper Silesia plebiscite - Mar. 20th 1921 Germany/Poland (Ober-Schlesien)
East Prussian plebiscite - Jul. 11th 1920 Germany/Poland
Schleswig-Holstein plebiscite - Feb. 10th 1920 Germany/Denmark (Slesvig)
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.
The following is an article I received from one of my collectors of plebiscite issues.
Lately I have been collecting notgeld from the border area between Denmark and Germany, a border that was decided by plebiscite (public election) in 1920. Missing some, I gave Tony a “wish list” – and WOW – I got what I asked for and more so!
The area in question is the southern part of the Jutland peninsula, known in Denmark as Sönderjylland and in Germany as Schlesvig/Holstein(SH). The kings of Denmark were hereditiary dukes of SH, which they saw as their private property, unlike Denmark where the kings originally were elected. After the Napoleon wars German farmers settled in the area, and in the Danish Prussian war of 1864 SH was“liberated” - further cemented in 1871, when the area was included in the now united German empire.
Came end of WW-One, and Denmark who had been neutral during the war, felt that time was ripe to reclaim its lost territories in Jutland. The result was a plebiscite in two sections. First the northern areas of SH should vote between three possible borders, then – depending on the result, municipalities south of the chosen border could vote on whether to be Danish or German.
This resulted in something unique in the history of money: an enormous output of notes advocating German or Danish adherence. It came from “Gemeinde” (areas), municipalities, small towns, and private enterprises – you may find pro German and pro Danish notes from the same town (or neutral notes being pro-Danish on one side and pro-German on the other).
The main massage on the Danish side is “coming home!” – evidenced by hoisting the flag, or seeing it falling from heaven (as it did in the past when king Waldemar – the Victor crushed the Poles in 1219, see Broager (Grabowski/Mehl (GM) 188). Although there are references to the glorious past - the Danes stemmed off Slavonic tribes in the middle ages – pastoral peace dominates. Remember that the youth in SH had been drafted to the German army or navy in the very recent past, and whereas Germany was kept in an iron grip be the victors – Denmark could offer “normal” life. And real coffee! One note from Tingleff (GM 464.1) clearly states that the inhabitants now had had enough “Erzatz” (artificial coffee)! Quite ironic, a note from Gramby (GM 464.1) depicts the greedy German as a Jew, big nose, moustache and top hat.
The German notes plays on Germanism: “We are German and intend to remain so!”(Suderbrarup GM 1294.3 and Suchsdorf 1291.1 no.1 “We will not live as slaves (on land that is ours)” and on the island of Sylt where the local language have the word for “protect” rhyme with “Jütes”(danes from Jutland): “God protect us from becoming Jutes!”(both found on Klanxbüll GM704) Medieval references are normally not present, German influx in the area being fairly recent, but kicking out the Swedish enclave in 1850 and sending the Danish army on the run in 1864 suffices for patriotic purposes. Danes on retreat is depicted on a whole series of 50 pf. notes from Suchsdorf (GM no1291). The sinking of the pride of the Danish fleet on Eckernförde is shown on GM306. Pride in being German seems to be a one common message, less common; it is stupid to move borders – our cows cannot read signs, GM848.2– Lützhof in Angeln.
The latter name “Angeln” should be of interest to the British. In 1920 it was not an official name for any part of the area – but historically it was the name of the area south of the present day German/Danish border. The people living there in Roman times, the Angles, were under pressure from the Jutes in the North and between year 400 and 600 they migrated, with some of their Saxon cousins to the south, across the North Sea to an island just left by the Romans and inhabited by scattered Briton tribes. These migrants were later to be known as Anglo-Saxons. The Germans of 1920 had fairly little in common with the Angles of the past, but it was a historic reference that could be, and was – used. But the Angle inheritance was not totally lost, and this is evidenced n the local dialect used on the German side, also called “platt-deutsch” as opposed to “High German”. Look at notes from Friedrichstadt (GM 395) : “fief und twintig” = 25 (five and twenty). My guess is that it would be easier for an Englishman to understand platt-deutsch than high-German, provided that he has no formal education in any of these lingos.
The result of the plebiscite appears fair, the border came reasonably close to the language border, the Danish speaking became Danes, the German speaking German. There came some celebratory notes, the Flensburg rope-pulling being famous (GM369.3 to 6). I have not seen any issued in disappointment.
Finally, with Tony’s substantial contribution to my “plebiscite collection” came a mystery note. It was dated 1927, denominated in “kroner” (Danish currency) and issued by a private company, strangely named “The Farmer’s Selfgovernment LTD”, but the front was identical with 1920 notgeld from Uk (Uge in Danish) GM 1353, albeit in BW, not colour. It took some googling on Danish pages to find what it was. This was an agrarian movement, strongly opposed to the government in Copenhagen. It never lifted off the ground, and went into oblivion after loosing the election in 1928. I doubt that they survived to redeem the notes.
Olav E. Klingenberg. Oslo, Norway
A couple of plebiscite pieces from Satrup for you now..............one set is 'normal' and the other is 'overprinted. 'Ugyldig som Betalingsmiddel' means 'invalid as a payment method'. On the reverse of the 50pf note are 3 pictures. One is a picture of Jorgen Jorgensen, another of a church and finally one of a man on a roof of a house.
(Hjulmand Jorgen Jorgensen was a Danish spy and wheelwright. He was born on December 22, 1804 in Sottrup Parish, Sonderborg, Denmark. He died June 11, 1880. Jorgen Jorgensen was employed in the ﬁeld of police service during the two Schleswig-Holstein Wars and became semi famous in the area. The image on the lower left of the notgeld shows Jorgen Jorgensen resisting arrest in his house, or rather on it, as he had climbed to the roof and was using the bricks from the chimney to throw at the German/Austrian soldiers (hussars) who had come to arrest him. He ﬁnally had to come down when he had no more bricks to throw. All this fascinating information came to me from Donald Nissen - great, great grandson of Jorgen Jorgensen!)