As France returned the coal and steel-rich Saar to Western Germany July 6, a massive five-day exchange operation began involving the transfer of nearly GBP50 million-worth of French francs into West German D-Marks.
LV. Money unloaded from truck at bank.
SV. Police guard.
SV. Money unloaded.
SV.PAN.Police guard, PAN to money carried into bank.
SV. Money stacked inside bank.
LV. People enter bank.
SV. Woman hands in French Francs.
SV. Currency changed for marks.
LV. Shop owner changes price tages.
LV. Price tags changed.
SV. People compare prices.
GV. Street scene Saarbruecken.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As France returned the coal and steel-rich Saar to Western Germany July 6, a massive five-day exchange operation began involving the transfer of nearly GBP50 million-worth of French francs into West German D-Marks.
Saarlanders crowded the 519 banks and other exchange points at which they change cash at a rate of 100 francs to 0.8507 D-Marks. Lorries carried the new currency to the banks, guarded by heavily-armed frontier police.
For the Saarlanders - over one million of them - the chief interest is whether they will be better or worse off as a result of the change. They compared new prices in shop windows. Many goods will be cheaper; some like petrol, substantially so. Others including tobacco will be more expensive.
Economic integration follows two and a half years after political reunion, when the Saar became the tenth "Land" of the Federal Republic.
The Economic union will take some time to complete. Most of the legal problems have been dealt with, but a formidable administrative task remains. Trade unions and employers have concluded new wage agreements compensating for the higher German taxes and lower children's allowances. The miners, for instance, will be paid somewhat more than their mates in the Ruhr.
German businessmen have been preparing for a brisk invasion. For weeks the inhabitants have been flooded with German catalogues and advertisements. Some goods will be cheaper, some more expensive...petrol and railway fares are to come down, postage, tobacco, sugar and most alcoholic drinks to go up. There has been a rush on spirits in the last few days.
Integration brings to West Germany an extra annual production of about 17 million tons of coal, three million tons of pig-iron and four million tons of raw steel. To France it causes concern about their trade with the territory. The Saar has ranked as France's second customer, buying GBP170 million of French goods annually.