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Bring Back the D-Mark, Says One in Three Germans

Six years after German adopted the euro, 34 percent of people still hanker for their former currency. To many, it represented Germany's economic miracle of the post-war years -- and they blame the euro for rising prices.

Deutsche mark and pfennig coins

The good old deutsche mark

On May 2, 1998, 11 European Union leaders met in Brussels to decide which countries should be the first to adopt the euro. Ten years on, 50 percent of Germans say they still haven't got used to the single European currency -- and some of them even want the deutsche mark back.

According to a study conducted by the Association of German Banks (BdB), one in three Germans said they preferred using D-marks to the new shared currency. Some 34 percent said they'd even like to see the euro withdrawn and the deutsche mark put back into circulation.

Most people said they didn't like the euro because they believed it had made things more expensive. Some 53 percent of those surveyed blamed the euro for widespread price rises in recent years.

But BdB board member Manfred Weber told the daily Berliner Zeitung that they are wrong.

Euro notes in a box

Just over a third of Germans want to pack up the euro and bring back the D-mark

"The biggest increases in prices have nothing to do with the euro but rather with more expensive energy and food," Weber said, stressing that contrary to perception, the euro has helped consolidate Germany's economic growth and secure the country's high standard of living.

Currency nostalgia

Meanwhile, psychologists have observed that about half of Germans still convert euro prices into the deutsche mark, six years after the euro was launched as a cash currency on Jan. 1, 2002.

"In times of high inflation, people get nostalgic for the deutsche mark," said psychologist Henning Haase from Frankfurt University in an interview with the online version of Die Welt newspaper. "For many, the deutsche mark is the ultimate stable currency."

He pointed out that a failure to adapt to the euro is often a question of age.

"Fifty to 60-year-olds will instinctively convert euros into deutsche marks," he said. "They grew up with it, and it's their yardstick for deciding what's expensive and what isn't. The deutsche mark is an anchor in their lives.

"Only those born after 1990 will be the first to accept the euro without ever converting back into deutsche marks," Haase added.

For many the deutsche mark was more than paper to fold in their wallets, the BdB's Weber said.

"Many see the D-mark as a symbol of the post-war economic boom," he said.

Doing the sums

A shopper in a supermarket aisle

Consumers blame the euro for rising prices

It also helps that the calculation is so easy in Germany -- everyone can multiply by two -- Haase said, unlike in other countries, where people stopped converting back into their former currencies simply because the math is too difficult.

But Haase also pointed out that switching to the D-mark all the time is misleading, and leaves people with a false impression they are paying too much.

D-mark prices were effectively frozen back in 2001, said the psychologist, so that when people calculate prices in deutsche marks they fail to take inflation into account and get indignant at what they see as unreasonable price hikes.

"Prices these days would still be higher even if we still had the D-mark," he said.

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