Inflation in post-WWI Austria


The traditional periods of Austrian letter-mail inflation are defined as:

PeriodBegan on     PeriodBegan on
112.11.1918821.8.1922
215.1.1920918.9.1922
315.4.1920101.11.1922
41.2.1921111.8.1923
51.8.1921121.12.1923
61.12.1921131.12.1924
71.5.1922MF1.6.1925

The start date for Period 1 is chosen because it is the date the Republic of Deutschösterreich was proclaimed; the rates didn't change. "MF" means mixed-franking.

The exchange rate of Kronen to the 1 sterling is tabulated next:

23.1.1920 11.11.1920 25.10.1921 1.1.1922 31.4.1922 15.6.1922
1,000Kr 2,000Kr 8,000Kr 45,000Kr 93,000Kr 84,000Kr

Austria's worst month was August 1922, with an inflation rate of 129% which means that prices double every 25 days. For comparison, Hungary's first inflation's worst month was July 1923, prices doubling every 31 days. Both these are trivial compared with Hungary's post-WWII inflation, peaking in July 1946 at 42,000,000,000,000,000% with prices doubling every 15 hours. After World War I, essentially all State enterprises ran at a loss, and the number of state employees in the capital, Vienna, was greater than in the earlier monarchy, even though the new republic was scarcely one-eighth of the size.

Inflation shows directly in the progressive increase in the postal rates. New higher face values were steadily introduced, and old smaller or unuseable values withdrawn, sometimes with a brief period when they could be exchanged. After February 1921 all Fahrpost (parcels etc) charges had to be paid in cash, not by applying adhesives: the opportunities for genuine use of high-value stamps were greatly diminished!

DateLLILFLIPCFPCIRgFRg
1 December 1921710255151025
1 May 192220257512454075
21 Aug 19228010030050180160300
18 September 1922160200600100360320600
1 November 192232040015002009006401500
1 August 1922--6002000300120010002000
1 December 1923--10003000500180020003000
1 December 1924--15004000700240030004000

LL, IL, FL = local, inland, foreign letter, at lowest weight step (ignoring any reduced-rate eg for Hungary);
IPC, FPC = inland, foreign postcard (ditto); and IRg, FRg = inland, foreign registration fee.

Newspapers are different!

Inflation hit the newspaper post just as for everything else. However, the changes made to cope with it were at different dates from the 'ordinary post' changes, and were often notified in different decrees. Karasek, Kroiss and others refer to Inflation Period 1 etc BUT these are quite different from the letter mail inflation periods and there are only 5 of them - because from1 March 1922, publishers had to pay in cash for posting their newspapers.

The newspaper period start dates are: 1st: 12 Nov 1918; 2nd: 1 July 1920; 3rd: 1 April 1921; 4th: 1 Oct 1921; 5th: 1 Jan 1922.


© Andy Taylor. Last updated 11 March 2023