2nd October 1941

Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks

The Germany army made many changes to Guernsey during the second world war. The most obvious ones are still plain to see – the defences built around the coast. Others were more easily unwound at the end of the occupation. These largely revolved around bringing Guernsey life into line with Berlin.

They moved the island’s clocks ahead by an hour so they kept the same time as the mainland, switched the traffic to drive on the right, and introduced their own currency – the Occupation Reichsmark.

This was a special version of the regular Reichsmark that could only be spent in occupied territories, including the Channel Islands, France and Yugoslavia. It had no value in Germany itself.

An order of 2 July 1940, which was published in The Star the following day, set the rate of exchange at five Reichsmarks to the pound. As with all currencies, this fluctuated over time, eventually settling at 9.60 Reichsmarks to the pound. It remained at this rate until the end of the war. Following Liberation they were converted back into pounds at the same rate.

The disappearing pound

However, for much of the war, although the Reichsmark and pound technically circulated side by side in Guernsey and Jersey, the pound was rarely seen. Locals were said to be hoarding it in anticipation of the end of hostilities when, they believed, the Reichsmark would be practically worthless. This is understandable since many of them will have witnessed the extraordinary inflation that Germany suffered after World War One.

Several online sources point to an article in the 2 October 1941 edition of the Guernsey Press highlighting the lack of sterling in the system and advocating a wholesale switch to the Reichsmark on the basis that it was the only system that remained effective on the island.


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Other events that occured in October

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st