1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

From Affluent to Effluent: Pensioner Flushes Fortune

DW staff (nda)April 20, 2006

A 64-year old retired man from Kiel had been sitting on a small fortune for the past four years without realizing it. To him, it was all just useless paper. So he flushed it down the toilet.

Most people just spend a penny; the pensioner from Kiel spent 30,000 eurosImage: dpa - Bildfunk

What would you do if you had a small fortune in a defunct currency and you were convinced it was worthless? Would you burn it? Would you throw it in the trash? Or would you take it the bank on the off chance that it could actually still be converted into legal tender?

Well, a German pensioner who had been hoarding 60,000 Deutsche Marks since the currency was replaced by the euro in 2002, didn't consider any of these options and instead decided to flush his considerable wad down the toilet.

The 64-year-old from the northern city of Kiel was apparently oblivious to the fact that the money could still be exchanged. Otherwise it is debatable whether he would have stuffed the equivalent of 30,000 euros ($37,000) down the u-bend.

"He flushed the cash down the loo because he didn't think it was worth anything," said police spokesman Uwe Voigt.

Valuable deposit blocks up neighborhood sewer

Toilettensitz mit Symbol
Perhaps a new symbol "Do not flush money" should be added?Image: BilderBox

After blocking up his toilet and the nearby sewer system with his expensive deposit, the man called sewage workers who extracted about half the sodden currency from the pensioner's plumbing. The remaining notes created a bottleneck in local drains, where most were fished out by the incredulous workers.

How much of the flushed fortune was actually recovered remains a mystery. "There may have been more cash that got away," said Voigt. But the pensioner still managed to save enough of the currency to help improve what the police called his "spartan" living arrangements.

The pensioner dried out the notes that had been saved and deposited them at a local bank. It was not clear whether he had washed them first.