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The new money: euros

The new money: euros
Source: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung NRW

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Goodbye deutschmark!

1 January 2002: a dozen European countries replace their national currencies with the euro.

To help consumers get used to the new notes and coins, sample "starter kits" go on sale a fortnight before the launch date: Germans get Euro 10.23 for DM 20.

Droves of people queue up at the bank and post-office counters for a handful of coins in a see-through plastic bag - like a bag of peanuts. No magic, no hysterics, no velvet bags of gold of everlasting value: the new money is cold and sober. Just right for a globalised and computerised world.

The myth of the hard deutschmark has long been tarnished - at least since the bulletcrises of the 1970s. The bulletD-mark dream of "real money" is a child of the 1950s, when cement mixers were churning full speed to build the West German economy, when ladies insisted on bulletperlon stockings of finest yarn, and when jets were replacing propeller planes.

Money, sweat and dreams were all part of the same equation. By the third millennium some of those big bulletdreams for humankind have already come true. But the euro is also associated with a dream: it will, says Chancellor Schröder, help turn the centuries-old vision of a united Europe into a reality: farewell to the mark and in with the euro!

Ulrike Filgers

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