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Third Reich Coins: Symbols of Nazi Germany's Dark Legacy in WWII

Third Reich coins, minted during Nazi Germany's reign from 1933 to 1945, serve as both historical artifacts and chilling reminders of one of the darkest periods in human history – World War II. These coins, often adorned with powerful symbolism and propaganda, reflect the ideological and political aspirations of Adolf Hitler's regime. While collectors may find them fascinating for their historical value, it is crucial to approach Third Reich coins with a deep understanding of their historical context and the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.

I. The Historical Context

To appreciate the significance of Third Reich coins, we must first delve into the historical backdrop that led to their production. Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933 marked the beginning of Nazi Germany's totalitarian rule. Under Hitler's leadership, the Nazis pursued an aggressive expansionist agenda that eventually ignited World War II in 1939.


The coinage of the Third Reich was deeply intertwined with Hitler's vision of a new Germany. The Nazis aimed to use currency not only as a medium of exchange but also as a propaganda tool to promote their ideologies and glorify their regime.

II. The Role of Third Reich Coins in Propaganda

Iconography and Symbolism 

Third Reich coins were meticulously designed to convey Nazi propaganda. The most prominent symbol featured on these coins was the swastika, the Nazi Party's emblem. It appeared on almost all denominations, from the smallest Pfennig coins to the larger Reichsmark. The swastika, originally an ancient symbol with positive connotations, was repurposed by the Nazis to represent Aryan supremacy and their radical ideologies.

Portraits of Leaders

Another prominent feature on these coins was the effigy of Adolf Hitler. His likeness was depicted on the obverse side of many coins, particularly during the earlier years of the regime. This served as a clear assertion of his authority and cult of personality, as well as a constant reminder of his omnipresence in daily life.

Nationalistic Motifs

In addition to the swastika and Hitler's portrait, Third Reich coins featured other nationalistic and militaristic symbols. Images of eagles, oak leaves, and swords were commonly used to evoke a sense of German unity and strength. These motifs aimed to rally the German population behind the Nazi cause and justify their expansionist ambitions.

The Evolution of Third Reich Coinage

The design and production of Third Reich coins underwent several changes during the twelve-year Nazi rule, reflecting the shifting political and economic landscape of the era.

Early Years (1933-1936)

The coins issued in the early years of the Third Reich predominantly featured Hitler's portrait alongside a more subdued use of the swastika. This period also witnessed the removal of the Weimar Republic's iconic images and mottos from the currency, symbolizing a break from the past.

The Olympic Games (1936)

The 1936 Berlin Olympics provided an opportunity for the Nazis to showcase their ideology to the world through coinage. The Olympic Games marked the introduction of commemorative coins that prominently displayed the swastika, projecting a façade of international cooperation while Nazi policies became increasingly aggressive.

Wartime Coins (1939-1945)

As World War II unfolded, the design of Third Reich coins became simpler, reflecting the economic constraints imposed by the conflict. Precious metals like silver were replaced with cheaper alloys, and the aesthetic appeal of the coins diminished. The propaganda message remained, but the quality of the coins declined as the war effort strained the German economy.

The Legacy of Third Reich Coins

Today, Third Reich coins are collected and studied for various reasons. Some collectors are drawn to them as historical artifacts, while others see them as a way to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the millions who suffered under Nazi rule. However, it is essential to approach these coins with sensitivity and an awareness of their historical context.

Collecting Third Reich Coins

Collectors of Third Reich coins are often motivated by a fascination with history and numismatics. These coins offer a tangible connection to a tumultuous period in world history. It is crucial for collectors to engage with this material responsibly, respecting the sensitivity surrounding these artifacts and acknowledging the suffering endured by countless individuals during the Nazi regime.

Educational and Commemorative Use

Many museums and educational institutions display Third Reich coins as part of exhibits focused on World War II and the Holocaust. These exhibitions help educate the public about the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the importance of preventing such horrors from happening again.


Third Reich coins are powerful historical artifacts that offer a glimpse into the ideology and propaganda machinery of Nazi Germany during World War II. While they hold value for collectors and historians, it is crucial to approach these coins with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the historical context in which they were minted.

These coins are not mere curiosities; they serve as reminders of the Holocaust and the devastating consequences of extremist ideologies. By preserving and studying Third Reich coins responsibly, we can ensure that the lessons of history are not forgotten and that we remain vigilant against the resurgence of such ideologies in the future.