The RKKs were originally created for use inside Germany, to withdraw silver, copper and nickel coins out of circulation in case of need. Their first improvised use in Poland was a great success and they were used for payments in all other occupied countries. (An exception was the Soviet Union, where everything belonged to the state anyway, and hence could be freely taken.)
Requisitions have been hated in all wars: soldiers would demand your property at gunpoint and give you some dubious document in return. When the soldiers were paying with money, the problem vanished (cash as payment for military goods was used in the American Civil War and in Europe). The new quality of the RKKs was that it was a currency separate from its home country - it was even forbidden to use in Germany! In this way, it couldn't inflate the money supply at home.
In the occupied countries, all banks were forced to accept RKKs by decree and they could exchange them with their note bank for local currency. The exchange rate was set to the advantage of the occupiers. The note bank would then return the RKKs to a German bank, but would not get anything in return. It could either raise its local currency or print it, but would effectively finance all occupation costs. The RKKs were finally returned to the soldiery and used again and again.
The costs would be spread out among the population of the occupied country. There was no evidence of dispossession, and no one was hit directly. The German soldiers took a lot, but were notable for paying for everything. In the end, though, they made others pay for them.
The use of RKKs was in most countries stopped after some time and local currency was used instead. Only in wealthy France were the RKKs used until end of 1943, when the inflated franc became too unstable. They were also used in the allied, but unoccupied Bulgaria. Due to its strategic importance, Germany paid at least a part of these costs - with state treasuries. As a Bulgarian banker proudly said at the time, this backing of their currency with the Reichsmark was a first step towards a unified European currency.
Until August 1941 were printed RKKs in value of 5.4 billion Reichsmark. It is unknown how much was printed later.
Although they bore a fixed relation to the local currencies, the fact that the rise in prices varied from country to country caused a corresponding variation in the purchasing power of the Reichskreditkassenscheine, which thus tended to gravitate towards the country or countries where their purchasing power was highest. Such undesired migrations went on, for instance, from the east of Europe towards France, the RKKs having developed into a form of travellers' money", or clearing currency, for the German troops.
The RKKs were withdrawn from circulation in France during December 1943, as had already been done in Belgium by August 1942. Further, by a decree of 13th October 1944, the Reichskreditkassenschein ceased to be used as travellers' money, or clearing currency, as from 1st January 1945, and was replaced by the "Verrechnungsschein fÃ¼r die Deutsche Wehrmacht", a sort of military travelling voucher, which was not legal tender and could not be utilised by civilians.
The circulation reached its highest point of RM 3,352 million at the end of November 1943. The decline to December 1944 was due to withdrawals from circulation in France and Italy.
- How Occupied France Financed its own Exploitation in World War II by Filippo Occhino, Kim Oosterlinck and Eugene N. White, October 2005