Currencies: 1938 to 1945

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The discussion is split into three parts: The demise of the Schilling in 1938; Allied Military Currency; and The resurrection of the Schilling in 1945.

Allied Military Currency

This section was written by Richard A. Krueger, and first published in Austria 136, Winter 2001. There were errors in the table in that article; they have been corrected here. For fuller details see his book "Post WWII Austrian Military History".

The Austrian Allied Military currency was part of a series of similar paper money provided by the Allies, in Lire (for Italy), francs (for France), marks (for Germany), Schillings (for Austria), kroner (for Denmark) and yen (for Japan). It was printed in that order, under the military code name of Operation Ordain. The information provided here comes from research carried out (by Kruger) at the US Library of Congress and also at the Library of American History at the Smithsonian. Most of the printing was done in the US, but some was done in England, the Soviet Union and Japan. The Austrian currency was printed in three different places: in England; in the U.S. at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; and contracted to the Forbes Lithograph Corporation, Chelsea, Massachusetts.

The paper used in the English printing was watermarked in all-over wavy lines either running horizontal or vertical on the notes. The U.S. printing was on paper with a single "Military Authority" watermark on each press sheet. It appears as if the original designs and lithographic masters were prepared at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The currency was issued to Allied Military personnel, but was civil legal tender throughout Austria. It was first issued from May through to 30th December 1945 and appears to have been re-issued after the currency reform in late December 1947.

In addition to the paper money, the British produced plastic tokens in 10 and 20 groschen denominations for use in their NAAFI stores in Austria. The tokens, which also made their way into Austrian civil use, were produced by Wollen and Company, Sheffield. The Soviets also produced some paper currency for use in their areas of occupation. They were denominated (as were their early stamps) in rpf and RM.

I donít know how long the Allied Military currency remained in circulation. It was apparently still in use in December 1947 when currency reform took place. A couple of references reported the Soviet 1 RM notes were issued on 20th December 1945. That would seem more like a withdrawal or demonetizing date, since the rpf and RM stamps were withdrawn then.

In the following table for Allied Military Currency Notes, the quantities for 5 Sch up are estimates; all are given in millions. Serial numbers on 25 & 1000 Sch are red, on all others black. The "Mil Auth" watermark is present on only a few notes per sheet.

Allied Military Currency

DenomSize, mmColourPrinterWatermarkQ'ty
50 gr113 x 58Red-brownForbesMil Auth100
EnglandHor. waves?
1 Sch113 x 58Blue on greenForbesMil Auth200

Hor. waves

2 Sch113 x 58BlueForbesMil Auth100
EnglandVer. waves?
5 Sch114 x 73LilacEnglandVer. waves73?
10 Sch114 x 73GreenEnglandHor. waves61?
20 Sch138 x 77Blue on blue-violetEnglandVer. waves52?
25 Sch138 x 77Brown on violetUS BEPMil Auth129?
50 Sch138 x 77Brown on yellow-brownEnglandHor. waves33?
100 Sch151 x 84GreenEnglandVer. waves19?
1000 Sch151 x 84Blue on green & multiEnglandVer. waves1?

Soviet Military Currency

DenomSize, mmColourPrinterWatermarkQ'ty
50 rpf100 x 54Brown on orangeVienna?noneNot issued
1 Rm100 x 54Green on manillaVienna?none?

British NAAFI Tokens

DenomSize, mmColourPrinterWatermarkQ'ty
10 gr25mm hexYellowWollenPlastic?
20 gr25mm hexRedWollenPlastic?
Back to main narrative

The discussion is split into three parts: The demise of the Schilling in 1938; Allied Military Currency; and The resurrection of the Schilling in 1945.