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Farewell to the Deutschmark (December 31, 2001)

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Buhrmeister was skeptical when the Deutschmark replaced the Ost-Mark in July 1990. “I was afraid of detrimental social effects, unemployment, for example.” On the other hand, he said that he had also looked forward to the Deutschmark, since people who used Ost-Marks abroad were always treated like second-class citizens. “Even while vacationing in Bulgaria, we East Germans got green food coupons and West Germans got pink ones. So the waiters knew right away who was who,” he said. Consequently, the Buhrmeisters weren’t sad when it came time to bid farewell to the Ost-Mark. But they still remember exactly what they bought with their last Ost-Marks: a dough dividing and rounding machine for 24,000 Ost-Marks. “I treat it like gold to this day,” said Jürgen Buhrmeister.

In contrast, however, saying goodbye to the Deutschmark hurts. “With the Euro, we’re all the same abroad.” His main reason for being pessimistic about the reform is that he thinks that retailers bear the greatest burden, and he feels that the long lead-up to the introduction of the Euro led to unnecessary hysteria. Maybe people are at least better informed than they were in 1990, he hopes. Back then, a customer wanted to pay for her rolls with Ost-Marks after the Deutschmark had already been introduced. Buhrmeister refused to take the Ost-Marks. “She was so angry that she threw a handful of small East coins over the counter and walked out.”

Source of original German text: Marion Dressler, “‘Mit dem Euro sind wir alle gleich.’ Bäcker Buhrmeister hat drei Währungsumstellungen erlebt. Die anstehende bedeutet für ihn viel Arbeit,” Berliner Zeitung, December 31, 2001.

Translation: Allison Brown

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