THE HORRORS OF GERMAN INFLATION l918 –1932 by Anita Sands
The brief article below on the killer inflation in Germany
which led to World War II, was written by Dr. Alfred Szendrei
So you’ll have an idea why, (as he saw a big music career coming,) my composer/author grandpa SHATZ changed his name. Gramps landed on the Orchestra Podium in Leipzig Opera in Germany, was fine for more than a decade until the day he told a dirty joke to the orchestra during rehearsal, calling Hitler party “the national clitoral party” as the word sounds the same as ‘nationalist’ party...Some Brown Shirt tuba player or drummer broke Gramps home’s windows with rocks.. Gramps moved instantly from LEIPZIG to BERLIN. His ascendancy in music industry was timed to Hitler’s own and living in Berlin, he got a good look at what ADOLPH WAS UP TO. He knew important people but he wasn't protected by his luck. The day the Nazis burned the books, -- his 13 books on Jewish music, David’s Harp, and Music of the Diaspora and others went up in flames along with all the Jewish authored books in the country. My PISCES GRANDFATHER was very prescient; he had the family pack up the silver, his books, a few trunks of furnishings which they shipped to Paris along with a Bluthner mini grand piano. They took a taxi to the train station to repatriate in sleepy beach town ‘CASSIS’ in PROVENCE, France, for the duration of the war. He left only once, to go to a concentration camp, show his Hungarian passport and get my soprano aunt out, because she was Hungarian, not German and the Nazis had no right to grab her. She had diamonds in hem of her skirt, ready for Nazis. They got her out of her dressing room in Belgium. She gave gems to guard, said ‘call my daddy,’ he did. Daddy got her out. She married CHARLIE FAWCETT, the real HERO behind the JULIA ROBERT CHARACTER in THIS new Julia /Hanks Film, CHARLIE WILSON’s WAR. Charlie Fawcett told Joanne Herring about Afghanistan. Being the houseguest of King of Morocco for years, he’d learned the truth about what was going on there, how the Russians were taking over. Charlie was an elegant Carolina southern boy who’d worked for the Red Cross during the war and had married 9 jewesses to get them out of Europe and she got to L.A. As a kid I saw her sing “Hansel and Gretal” at the Shrine Auditorium. My grandparents got to NEW YORK, later, in ’45 then they moved to Hollywood where Gramps taught music on that Bluthner until his death. Gramps lived well into his mid nineties, with his soprano daughter and his Vienese wife making strudel and Vienna Torte and gardening with joy in West Hollywood’s sunny clime, so much like that of Cassis. My Dad was already a composer/arranger at MGM. Henry Mancini, Johnny Green, Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse came to Grandpa's funeral where 13 cantors paid tribute to Alfred Shatz and when I signed the guest book outside the Temple, I signed it “Anita Shatz.”
THE INFLATION YEARS by ALFRED SZENDREI
“September 1918 – December 1932. The war was slowly reaching its end, but in spite of the continuing defeats of the German army and their allies, no one could predict how long the agony would last. (snip) The war ended on the ninth of November 1918 when the German army capitulated, An enormous demand for living spaces resulted from the demobilized soldiers returning from the front lines of the war. To prevent abuse, the authorities opened a housing department which appointed available houses to those who were entitled to them. Normally, one couldn’t obtain a new house, but those who already had one, had the opportunity to exchange it for another. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one, so I wasn’t eligible for such an arrangement. In the mean time, I had become a fulltime employee of the municipal opera, and had therefore earned the right to living accommodations. At the housing department, they told me that it was very possible that the waiting time for a home could last from six months up to two years, which wasn’t a very comforting forecast.
Before the end of my first year, I obtained a three-year contract from the opera management with a rising salary and so our near future was provided for. What no one had predicted and what made our material wellbeing an illusion, was the “at the start” creeping, then galloping and finally all-engulfing, overflowing destructing inflation. A generation who did not live through it, cannot imagine the situation, in spite of the large number of newspaper articles and books which have been published on the subject in the entire world, then and later on.
If one wanted to buy a pound of butter before 10 am, one had to wait until 10 am to pay, when the first dollar rates of the day were published by the banks because the dealers would adjust the price of their wares to it. At the height of the inflation, our salaries from the theatre went up every month, then every two weeks, later every week and finally twice a week. The moment we received the money, it had to be spent, because it would be worth less most of the time by the same afternoon.
Many bizarre situations developed because of this stampeding devaluation. For instance, I once paid too much income tax and was invited by the tax authorities to come and collect a reimbursement. The amount I had paid too much was at that time quite considerate compared to my income. When I collected the reimbursement, it was hardly sufficient for a ride on the tram.
Mrs. Schumann-Heink gave us $10 as a birthday present to help pay for a bicycle for our boy. I deposited this $10 bill at the down payment for the bicycle for the remaining amount, with the intention of retrieving the American banknote about a week later when the payment needed to be settled. I used this trick four times, with the final result that in a few months, we not only owned four bicycles, but at the end still had the $10 note still intact.
Our dentist’s brother, who visited Leipzig from America, had bought amongst other things, a four story rental house in the best part of town for the exchange worth in German marks of just a few hundred dollars. We learned this later from him, when we coincidentally lived in the same building in New York.
In the summer of 1924, my family and I went on an extensive cycling tour of Bavaria. Since I couldn’t carry the money we would need for the trip, I opened a Post Office savings account: with my deposit book I could collect money from every German Post Office. At the end of our tour, we needed an entire rucksack to take away the money we collected from the Post Office.
The most fervently discussed however, were the postage stamps. Firstly, the postage went in hundreds, then thousands, then two-thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions and finally billions of German Marks. Every philatelist had visible and physical proof of it in their stamp collection. I still doubt that someone who has not experienced this situation can imagine it truthfully.
The sudden switch of the monetary value to gold reserves of Germany in December 1924 had, in fact, solved the debt and obligations of the German state, but had at the same time robbed the entire population of their savings and had driven a large number of them into poverty and proletariat. This is public knowledge; I only recount this because it affected my own life as well at that time.
Of course we didn’t know at first that we, as a nation, were infected with the “inflation plague.” Slowly rising prices of consumer goods and later also of groceries were accepted as inevitable results of losing the war and the resulting reparation payments. We, as did thousands of others, used the early period of the inflation to our profit by speculating on the stock markets. Going by the advice of well-meaning friends, I had bought stocks. An American hit of the day was called “Everybody is doing it,” and indeed, everyone in Germany who had a little money to spare, had invested in stocks. I diligently studied the stock exchange rates to chuckle about how much I had “won.” I soon found out, however, that it was nothing but self-deceit, for as much as the worth of my stock went up, so much less became their monetary value. I got rid of my stock while there was still time to do so, so I didn’t lose in the end. Those who out of ignorance or stubbornness couldn’t or wouldn’t part with theirs have lost everything.
Because of the increasing “endearment,” as the first stage of the inflation was called, my wife needed to take on work with her singing to bring home some extra money, as my income from the theatre could no longer be stretched to support us. Even as my opera activities lost their brightness, I was astounded by the sheer number of private students who wanted to study harmony, composition and orchestration with me. Most of them were foreigners, who had to pay me in the currency of their own country. In German currency I would have had to raise my honorarium every month, and later every week. Apart from many Germans, I taught students from Greece, Bulgaria, Switzerland an many other countries, even one from Iceland."
MY NOTES: German currency must have changed daily vis a vis foreign money. Not understanding currency arbitrage, I can't imagine how a tourist could hand you a hundred dollars in their coin or even the local coin and it would make a difference which it apparently DID. But oddly I DO KNOW. An Italian client sent me a fifty Euro bill in the mail. It’s slowly gone up in value from Fifty bucks to 75$. So I do know that in times of great inflation, we have to be on our toes. It is possible that if you render a service which FOREIGN visitors might need, they’d hear the INFLATIONARY PRICE, 100$ an hour..and think, Hmmm, in English pounds, that’s nothing. In Euro’s that’s zippity do-dah and they’d pay happily. I know that right now, FOREIGNERS come to our FASHION DISCOUNT houses to buy PILES as we’re the new Tijuana. For them. And when we go to PARIS, we can’t even believe that our meal costs us l00$ a person! And a hotel is 400$. Of course, NEW YORK having lots of European visitors charges 400$ for a hotel room right now, knowing that to a European, that’s bupkes.
Also http://www.masterjules.net/joblost.htm and THE MONEY SECRETS ARCHIVE and the PHILOSOPHY to SEE YOU THROUGH THIS NEW, DARK AGES…. But a lot of that writing comes from my California Grandparents. They turned their home into a commune basically when they opened a boarding house in San Luis Obispo. Remember, during dark times, all folks need is a roof, food, heat and a bed. And a CANDLE to read by.
TRUE REASONS for WW II. INFLATION! GERMANY BURNED THEIR MONEY for HEAT! It was WORTHLESS. INFLATION and the WORLD BANKS DREW ENTIRE PLANET INTO WW II. With inflation dogging our heels, it could happen again, here!
NOVELS ABOUT THE DEPRESSION http://wal.loswego.k12.or.us/sandsp/Great%20Depression%20Web%20Site%20Doebler%20and%20Yost.htm
“Studs Terkel, HARD TIMES. James T. Farrell Gas House Mc Ginty , Young Lonigan. Many more.
GRAPES OF WRATH, Steinbeck.
A pal’s 8 yr old granddaughter demands her family rent a big house, like her friends have, not an apartment. I told the panicky granny to get CHILDREN’s books on the Great Depression and gently ‘splain’ reality to her. Actually renting a house and turning it into a boarding house is a fab idea. Here are some titles for children: Year Down Under by Richard Peck, What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Barry Moser, and The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small. http://www.carolhurst.com/subjects/ushistory/depression.html
Easily found at ABEBOOKS.com, USED. HOW TO ORDER AT BOTTOM DOLLAR, my sly secrets.
Remember any other titles on Great Depression? Write me at astrology at earthlink dot net.
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