German Notgeld featuring Max und Moritz

Who doesn’t enjoy reading the Sunday funnies? If your like me, you also enjoy reading the daily comic strips in the papers, or more often these days, online. One of the all-time favorites from the early days of the modern newspaper comic strips was The Katzenjammer Kids, then Hans und Fritz, and later the Captain and the Kids. Featuring the pranks of twin little boys who have no respect for their elders or authority., it was written with a broken English dialog of German immigrants, and quickly became a national sensation, especially so with the large German immigrant population in the United States. Of course back then humor was very different than today and people could laugh at themselves a lot more easily and not take offence at what was an obvious bit of humor.

The Katzenjammer Kids first appeared in 1897 and was created by Rudolph Dirks after being told by the newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst to make a strip like Max und Moritz stories. How popular was it, exactly? Well, the last original strip was published on January 01, 2006.

That’s almost 109 years! – and it’s still in syndication, the older strips being recycled and still leaving us chuckling at the antics of the two little brats causing mischief that we would have all loved to dare try as youngsters ourselves. So what was Max and Moritz?

Wilhelm Busch was born in Wiedensahl, Germany in 1832, and he went to school to obtain a mechanical engineering degree. A few months before graduating, however, be abandoned this choice and started his training in art. Around 1854 he found his way into illustrating satirical stories for magazines with the rhyming verse below the artwork giving rise to the modern German Comic Strip. By 1865 he published the book “Max und Moritz a boy’s tale in 7 tricks” and it took off like a rocket. The book chronicles the adventures, detailing the seven tricks that the boys play on different people in their village, causing madcap mayhem.  It was not only popular in Germany and Austria, but throughout the German-speaking world, especially in the United States, where there was a large diaspora of Germans. It was also translated into over 30 languages and in 1887, was the first children’s book imported into Japan.

It was so popular that it was imitated by several other writers and artists in an attempt to try to coast along on the train of success that Max und Moritz had, with the most famous being The Katzenjammer Kids.

Wilhelm Busch knew of the copy-cats in American papers, but was not able to pursue any legal action as he had by that time had sold the rights off.  Wilhelm Busch passed away on January 09, 1908 after taking ill the day before. He had not only had Max und Moritz as a claim to fame, but he had also been a talented painter and poet, and created a large number of works.

In Post WWI Europe inflation was ravaging the continent. As a result there was a shortage of money, and even when you had it, you would have to get paid daily, or even twice a day in order to stave off the rapidly rising costs of goods. It sounds like a nightmare, and it was. There had been so much inflation that a new type of money called Notgeld, German for Emergency Money, was issued by local merchants, railways, municipalities, etc. just to try to get by. Denominations of money skyrocketed and still there was not enough. Over time though it did tend to stabilize, and there was a period where a type of Notgeld called Serienschein (series notes) was issued.

Serienschein notegeld was not typically intended for use and were issued for sale more as a type of cheap collectible. These notes were printed with many types of motifs, and many celebrate the many legends and history within and around the area of issuance. Made with bright colors and artwork, these series notgeld notes have a large collectible base even today, 100 years later.

Two series issues of notgeld celebrated the adventures of Max und Moritz. One was issued in Wiedensahl, Wilhelm Busch’s birthplace, and the other in the village of Gaterslaben.  The two sets are shown below with an attempt to translate them through online translation software.

Wiedensahl Notgeld

The Wiedensal series follows the stories from Wilhelm Busch’s book in order of the tricks that the terrible twins play on the town.

Wiedensahl notgeld 50 Pfennig front. All Wiedensahl Notgeld with Max und Moritz share the same front image and text.

Gutschein  /  Coupon

Des flecten Wiedensahl  /  The flexible Wiedensahl

Dieser Schein verliert     /   This bill loses

Seine Gultigheit einen  /   its validity

Monat nach Aufruf  /  (1) month after call

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Foreword Back

Ach, Was muss man oft von bossen  /  Oh, how often we hear or read of

Kindern horen oder lessen!  /  bad boys we almost stand in fear of

Wie zum beispiel hier con diesen,  /  For example here, take these stories

Wiche Max un Moritz hiessen.  /  Of two boys named Max and Moritz

For their first trick, the boys tie feed to each end of two strings, then tie the strings in the middle. When the poor widow Bolt’s chickens eat their food, they choke and are hung in an apple tree.

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Trick 1 Back

Fliesset aus dem aug’ ihr Tranen!  /  Tears are streaming from her eyes

All’ mein Hoffen, all mein Sehnen,  /  All my hopes and desires

Meines Lebens schonster Traum  /  Oh, lifes beautiful dream

Hangt an diesem Apfelbaum  /  Hangs upon this apple tree

Their second trick is again on the same poor lady who, after deciding to make the best of a bad situation, gets her roasted chickens stolen.

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Trick 2 Back

Schnupdiwup! Da wird nach oben  /  La-de-da! From on the roof

Schon ein Huhn heraufgehoben  /  A chicken is caught on my hook

Stepping up their dastardly deeds, they now pick on the tailor, Herr Bock. The boys cut a footbridge that crossed a stream next to his shop. Taunting him to come out, Mr. Bock is surprised to fall into the stream. Wet and cold, Mr. Bock’s wife dries him out.

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Trick 3 Back

Hoch ist hier Frau Bock zu preisen!  /  There should be praise for Mrs. Bock

Denn ein heisses Bugeleisen,  /  For the hot iron that she brought

Auf den kalten Leib gebracht  /  To the cold body she applies

Hat es wieder gut gemacht  /  The heat to Mr. Bock’s surprise.

The studious Herr Lampel suffers too. After playing the Sunday church organ, he retires to his home to enjoy his pipe – only to discover too late that it was filled with gun-powder.

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Trick 4 Back

Als der Dampf sich nun erhob,  /  As the smoke filled room does clear

Sieht man lampel, der gottlob  /  Thank God Herr Lampel does appear

Lebend auf dem Rucken liegt,  /  Lying on his back, alive

Doch er hat abgekriegt.  /  It is dangerous, smoking pipes.

The dastardly duo did not stop when it came to family. Uncle Fritz, on retiring to his comfortable bed finds beetle-bugs have, somehow, found their way between the sheets.

Wiedensahl 50 Pf – Trick 5 Back

Und den Onkel voller Grausen  /  And the uncle full of horror

Sieht man aus dem Bette sausen.  /  See him throwing off the covers.

When the boys sneak into the bakery to steal some sweets, they fall into a vat of dough. Discovered by the baker, he cooks the two little tyrants until their crust is done. But the boys are not fully cooked, and gnaw their way out.

Und der Meister Backer schrie:  /  And the Master Baker shouts:

“Ach herrjeh da laufen sie!”  /  “Oh my gosh, it’s the two louts!”

But alas, the two boys have not learned their lesson and, slicing holes in corn sacks, they watch as the farmer picks them up to have them empty out from the bottom!

Wozu mussen auch die beiden  /  Why are these two little brats

Locher in die Sacke schneiden?  /  Cutting holes into the sacks?

But discovered, the farmer has his last laugh. He takes the boys to the miller, who grinds the rascals up, and the farmer feeds them to the ducks. The book ends with :

“In the village, not a word. Not a sign of grief was heard.”

Gatersleben Notgeld

The Gatersleben series is quite different and seems to take up an alternate ending after being eaten by the farmer’s ducks.  The translations were more difficult, but you can get the gist of what’s happening between the text and the pictures. The front of these notes also refer to historical occurrences in Gatersleben.

Gatersleben 75 Pf – 1 

Nicht Welterzaln  /    (it was) Not Welter tooth

Schuf diese Reste  /  Created these leftovers

Ein Bauer War’s  /  It was a farmer

Mit Schlauer Geste  / With a smart gesture

Er baut die scheu  /  He carefully builds

Ern neu daheim  / seriously new at home

u, fuhr von hier /  and, drove from here  

Die steine ein  /  the stones one

Gatersleben 75 Pf – 1 Front

Die Gatersleben marke          The Gatersleber brand

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gatersleben 75 Pf – 1 Back

Trotz ernster not gibst bos’s Gelichter  /  In spite of serious need you give boss’s blessings

zumal man sieht die zwei gesichter  /  Especially since you can see the two faces

im Busch liest enden sie im Entenschlund  /  in Busch’s book they end up in the duck’s throat

Gatersleben 75 Pf – 1 Back

Doch Max u moritz – – kergesund –  /  Both Max and Moritz – – perfectly healthy –

entschlupfen hinten raus! – Oh Graus!  /  Slip out the back – Oh horror!

Den, maxe hat das schieben raus  /  then Max got the push out

Gaterleben 50 Pf –  2 Front

Der Scheerenschnitt  /  The Sheering

Ist heute serhr belfebt  /  Is very busy today

Wir Gatersleber  /  We Gaterslabers

Sind darin geubr  /  Are used to it

Ganz Deutschland hat  /  All of Germany

Nach uns begheren  /  has desire for us

Weil wir am besten  /  because we are best

Schafe scheeren  /  (at) sheering sheep

Gaterleben 50 Pf 2 Front

Die Gatersleben schaf griseufen Veisen ab     Gatersleben abolishes old people

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gaterleben 50 Pf – 2 Back

Die heute’ge zeit pafit wunderfam  /  Today’s time is wonderful

fur buben streich u, Gloffenkram.  /  for boys’ tricks and bells and whistles.

Noch eh’der hahn zu krah’n begunn.  /  Before the rooster starts to crow.

Gaterleben 50 Pf 2 Back

malt max auf tor und wande an  /  Max paints on gates and walls

in Michels hof musik erklingt;  /  in Michell’s yard music sounds;

Man lauchst wenn die Valuta singt.  /  One laughs when the currency sings.

Gaterleben 50 Pf 3 Front

Die Stocke Schlagr  /  The great hits                

mit ehernem mund  /  with a brazen mouth

tagein taugaus uns   /  Day in and day out from us

stund fur stund  /  Hour after hour

mog’bald dies kun (mit)  /  I’ll take this soon

gen die bestischaft sein  / be the best

Die not ist aus! sifr (siehe)  /  The need is over! See

Nur sonnenschein  / Only Sunshine

Gatersleben 50 Pf 3 Front

       Die Gatersleber Kirche         The Gatersleben church

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gaterleben 50 Pf 3 Back

Zum hamster Angsmich schleichen beide.  /  They both sneak to the hamster, I’m afraid.

Sehr nur die teufels schadenfreude.  /  Only for these devils’ glee.

Sie wissen daft er schauchend liegt.  /  You know that he lies puffing

Gatersleben 50 Pf 3 Back

auf gold was fast nachpfunden wiegt.  /  of gold that weighs almost a pound,

bedachtsamwird es ihm entwunden.  /  it is carefully wrested from him.

Versuch mit notgeld zu gesunden!  /  Try to recover with emergency money!

Gaterleben 50 Pf 4 Front

Don dort wo fruher  / From where earlier

Konnt man baden  /  Could you swim

Zeits her in dik-Ken  / A long time ago

blauen Schwaden  / In thick blue clouds

Es Brennt die see  /  It burns the sea

Der torf fing heuer  / The peat caught this year

und der gestank  / And the stink

war ungeheuer  / Was tremendous

Gatersleben 50 Pf - 4 Front

Der See Brand von 1911         The lake fire of 1911

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gaterleben 50 Pf – 4 Back

Hauptschieber bollbauch Protzig-dicke  /  Main slide bulging tummy Showy-thick

Er ward das opfer ihrer lucke;  /  He became the victim of her luck;

den in der kurve an der lanne  /  the one in the curve at the lane

Gatersleben 50 Pf - 4 Back

Erlitt sein auto volste panne  /  His car suffered a major breakdown

Er Steinberg brach den pneumatik  /  he, Steinbach, broke the pneumatics

das loff-loff pieh und Schiebergluck  /  and slid-luck(?)

Gaterleben 50 Pf – 5 Front

Vor Zeiten sprach hier  /  Some time ago (there) spoke here

Mancher Richter  /  Some Judge

Hart urteil uber  /  A hard judge

Bos’s gelichter  / Boss’s lighter (Dutch: lifted)

sei dieser turm ein / Be the tower on (on the tower is)

warnungsseichen / Warning sign (a warning sign)

fur schieber wuchter / For sliders (for non-payers)

und dergleichen /and the same (and the likes)

Gatersleben 50 Pf 5 Front

               Der Malturm          The (times – ) tower

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gaterleben 50 Pf – 5 Back

Die beiden war man suf der spur.  /  The two were on the trail.

Der weg zum bahnhof blieb jetzt nur.  /  The only way to the train station now remained.

Der zug fahrt an rasch ohne karte  /  The train arrives quickly without a ticket

Gatersleben 50 Pf 5 Back

gebst durch die hohe marke  /  pass through the Captain’s raised hand.

des Kaipsers durch. Sein Ruf „halt“ an tut Max bericht’gen  /  His call “stop” to Max reports

mit einem “Freie bahn dem lucht’gen”  /  “let the air flow free”

Gaterleben 25 Pf – 6 Front

Arbeit is uns’re Lebenspflicht  /  Work is our duty in life

         Die jeder mag’er fullen; –  /  That everyone likes to fill; –

Gatersleben 25 Pf 6 Front

Man lass’uns aber  / But leave it to us

Sonnenlicht  /  Sunlight

Und unsern freien  /  And our free

Willen,  /  Will

Das freie wort,  / The free word

Das gleiche recht,  / The same right,

Das auch den  /  That too

schwachen nehr  /  Weakness lifts

dann must ein einig  /  then one must agre

volkersteh’n  /  people

in dem der deutsche  /  in which the German

Glaube lebt  /  faith lives

ungultig 3 monate          invalid 3 months

nach offentl aufkundigung         after public notification

der gemeinde vorstand          the community board

Gaterleben 25 Pf – 6 Back

fort saust das edle brudenpaar  /  the noble brothers  are whisked away

Wenn nur das telephon nicht wäre!  /  If only it weren’t for the telephone!

Schon an der nächsten Haltestelle  /  already at the next stop

German Notgeld Gatersleben 25 PF 6 - 1921 Back

Schlieset sich die feste kettenschelle.  /  The fixed chain clamp (handcuffs) closes.

Der Karzer winkt. Dock unbeforgt  /  The prison beckons. But don’t worry,

Denn mprgen wird auf “Amnestie” gehorcht  /  Because tomorrow the ‘amnesty’ will be obeyed (granted?).