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The Downfall of Money Germany's Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class by Frederick Taylor

The Downfall of Money Germany's Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class

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Sue Baker's view...

Wild Stock-Exchange gambling, increased prosperity not feeding through to the general population, it sounds all too familiar to us having recently suffered a further colossal global financial crisis; however these observations come from Frederick Taylor’s The Downfall of Money remarking on the growing crisis in Germany in the summer of 1921. If the German financial melt-down means nothing more than vague memories of money being carried around in wheelbarrows instead of wallets then this book is the ideal explanation for the crisis, what caused it, how the political system was overthrown and the world was once again overshadowed by war.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. The images of children making mountains of worthless notes dramatically captures the chaos of Germany after 1918. As well as exhaustion and grief, reparations to the Allies, and political turmoil, came economic collapse. This important work sets the context for hyperinflation that destituted Germany and paved the way for the extremists that followed. It makes for a chilling guide to what happens when societies unravel and the bonds tying people together are undone by desperation and despair.
~ The Good Book Guide


The Downfall of Money Germany's Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class by Frederick Taylor

Many theorists believed a hundred years ago, just as they did at the beginning of our twenty-first century, that the world had reached a state of economic perfection, a never before seen condition of beneficial human interdependence that would lead to universal growth and prosperity. And yet the early years of the Weimar Republic in Germany witnessed the most complete and terrifying unravelling of a major country's financial system to have occurred in modern times. The story of the Weimar Republic's financial crisis has a clear resonance in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when the world is anxious once more about what money is, what it means and how we can judge if its value is true. The Downfall of Money will tell anew the dramatic story of the hyperinflation that saw the once-solid German mark, worth 4.2 to the dollar in 1914, trading at over four trillion by the autumn of 1923. It is a trajectory of events uncomfortably relevant for today's uncertain world. The Downfall of Money will reveal the real causes of the crisis, what this collapse meant to ordinary people, and also trace its connection to Germany's subsequent catastrophic political history. By drawing on a wide range of sources and making sense for the general reader of the vast amount of specialist research that has become available in recent decades, it will provide a timely, fresh and surprising look at this chilling period in history.


'He uses reportage well ... And has a deft touch with personal anecdotes. His forte, revealed in earlier books on Germany, is narrative history, which trots along at a friendly pace'

The Times

'Taylor has many absorbing passages: his accounts of life in pre-war Berlin, the immediate post-war stance of the imperial navy, the outrages of the Freikorps, the persistence of nationalism, the ravages of the extended Allied blockage and the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in 1923. Equally arresting ... Is a German memorandum written in 1914 (but only discovered in 1950) on the assumption that the country would win the war ... Embellished with much contemporary detail painstakingly trawled from newspapers, diaries and other books'

Literary Review

'Germans are terrified of inflation ... By the end of The Downfall of Money it is clear why these fears are so deeply embedded. At the root of the trauma lie the events of 1923, when the German currency plummeted from 7,500 Reichsmarks to the dollar to a rate of 2.5 trillion ... It is remarkable that the world's second-biggest economy didn't disintegrate. Frederick Taylor, who has written several books on this era, is careful to blame no one ... He is quick to offer parallels with the recent financial crisis, when many governments turned to quantitative easing ... To avoid recession or even depression. And his book has suggestions about where the world may be heading if it is not careful'


'If you thought you knew everything about the Nazis, Frederick Taylor's The Downfall of Money may make you pause ... Taylor doesn't make heavy weather with the comparisons between what faced Germany after 1918 and the current Eurozone crisis but there is no doubt that this story resonates because of these parallels'

Big Issue Cymru

About the Author

Frederick Taylor was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School, and read History and Modern Languages at Oxford, and did postgraduate work at Sussex University. He edited and translated The Goebbels Diaries and is the author of the acclaimed Dresden, The Berlin Wall and Exorcising Hitler. He lives in Cornwall.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th September 2014


Frederick Taylor

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


432 pages


eBook Favourites

European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Economic & financial crises & disasters



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