Cold War and Insurgency Propaganda Banknotes

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

Note: Portions of this article were previously published in the Whitman Numismatic Journal, July 1967 and September 1967, and the International Banknote Society Journal, Volume 24, Number 1, 1985 and Volume 30, Number 1, 1999. Some illustrations from this article were used by The Centre Pompidou (Paris) for the autumn 2015 issue of "Les Cahiers du Muse national dart modern."

The origin of the term "Cold War" is usually attributed to Bernard Baruch, advisor to many American presidents during the turbulent post-war years. There is no single definition of this term, but we understand it to be a state of continual diplomatic adversity where the great philosophies of the East and West contend on every level except for the actual field of battle. Bloodless skirmishes are fought between bickering politicians and mighty nations. Espionage and propaganda campaigns and coups abound. Information and disinformation is disseminated through every type of media, and even the slightest advantage is considered a major victory in the attempt to win prestige, territory and power through the use of the spoken and written word.

Sir Winston Churchill

Propaganda becomes extremely important at a time when there is no actual combat by arms. It allows one side to attack the philosophy and beliefs of another, usually at no risk of escalation. For this reason, many millions of leaflets were prepared and disseminated on both sides of the "Iron Curtain", that imaginary wall that divides Europe into East and West and was first mentioned by Winston Churchill in his Westminster College speech of 5 March 1946. He said in part:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.

As in many propaganda battles whether political or revolutionary, leaflets in the form of banknotes were produced by both sides. Propaganda leaflets may be avoided by patriotic or frightened citizens of a target country, but anyone will pick up a banknote on the street. That has always been the perfect way to pass insidious propaganda to an unwary reader. The Americans, British, Germans and Russians all used this technique in WWII. Half a decade later in the Korean War the United States once again prepared banknote leaflets.

It was just a matter of time before they appeared again during Cold War psychological operations and in revolutionary conflicts where one side sought independence from another. The only difference was that the banknotes prepared during the shooting wars were government projects and it was understood that they were authorized by the military. The Cold War and insurgency notes for the most part were prepared by civilian organizations, though certainly in almost every case they were sponsored by some intelligence agency of a government. We could make a case for calling them "Political Banknotes," but there are legitimate banknotes prepared by real political parties in favor of candidates and policies. I first wrote about them in the February 1970 issue of Coins in an article entitled "Political Propaganda Slogans Projected on Paper Money."

Richard Nixon Political Note

In my computer file of Political Propaganda Currency I have no less than 70 pages of single-spaced entries. And, I have not added to that list in the past few years. In fact, to pick a name at random there are 21 political banknotes that attack President Richard Nixon alone. I depict one here. So, understand that we are not going to talk about electioneering or political notes.

Therefore, in the case of these pro and anti-Communist and insurgency currency leaflets we have chosen the name "Cold War and Insurgency Banknotes." I should stress that there are dozens of such notes that fall into this category. We cannot show them all. Therefore we have selected some of particular interest for this article.


The French Safe Conduct Pass Banknote

Algeria was conquered in 1830 by Charles X of France, the last Bourbon king. The Algerians rose up in revolt in 1954, which led to a French withdrawal eight years later in 1962. During the war, the French fought hard to keep Algeria and prepared dozens of propaganda leaflets. One in the form of a banknote was a French parody of an Algerian 100 NF (new francs) on a 10,000 francs Bank of Algeria and Tunisia note of 28 January 1958. The front of the note looks very much like a real banknote and the French placed the message "This note has no commercial value" on it to make sure it was not used as counterfeit currency.

The French Safe Conduct Pass Banknote Back

The note had a safe conduct pass on the back showing a photograph of a French soldier accepting a rifle from a smiling guerrilla and his comrade who are being paid cash. The text on back is in French and Arabic, and says in French:

Soldier: rally to us!
Present yourself to a citizen. He will drive you to a French post. You will divide the reward while receiving a 10,000 francs banknote.

The Arabic-language text is poorly readable and at about a grade-school level. It is:

Soldier, give yourself up!
Come forward to the one who will take you to the French and you will receive a reward of 10,000 francs.

The OAS Secret Army Banknote Leaflet

The French Army and the French citizens living in Algeria refused to admit defeat and attempted to carry on the fight. The Algerian OAS "Secret Army Organization" produced parodies of the French Banque de France notes of about 1960. The parodies have a tab on the left bearing the large initials "O A S" and French text "Reembourse par le Tresor" ("Payable by the treasury"). The backs have a large "O A S" at left, and at right a portrait and signature of French General Raoul Salan, head of the Secret Army Organization. Salan led an unsuccess­ful putsch in April 1961, aimed at preserving French rule in Algeria. After the failure of the putsch, Salan founded the terrorist OAS, which fought against Algerian independence. The French captured Salan in 1962, and he spent 20 years in prison.

The notes I have seen are a parody of the 50 new francs on 5000 francs note of about 1960. This parody dates from 1961 or 1962. The second is a parody of the 100 new francs note of 12 January 1960 with blue ink on white paper. The French-language text is:

The Secret Army is not a political faction but a genuine Army which aims at the mobilization of the French people in order to protect the fundamental liberties, the social justice and also the integrity and the preservation of the national territory.

Signed SALAN

The money given by the bearer of this voucher is under control and responsibility of the Secret Army. It will be reimbursed by the OAS Treasury.


The Austrian Communist Party 100 Shilling Banknote

The Communist Party in Austria prepared two parodies of the 100 schilling Oesterreichische Nationalbank note of 1949. The parodies are identical on the front, but differ on the back in both message and format. One has the propaganda message horizontally while the other has it vertically. These leaflets, dated 22 February 1953, were produced by the Wahlgemeinschaft Oesterreichische Volksopposition (People's Opposition). The Communists had called themselves Linksblock (Left-wing bloc) during the 1949 elections, but changed their name to the more acceptable "People's Opposition" during the 1953 elections. No matter what the name, the Austrian people showed little interest, giving the Communists just 4 of 165 seats in theirNationalrat (Parliament).

The Austrian Communist Party 100 Shilling Banknote Message Side

As in all the leftist productions, the propaganda banknote message attacks the inflation allegedly brought on by the party in power. On the front of the both notes we see an angel thumbing his nose at a two-faced caricature representing the ruling politicians. On the back of the note with the horizontal message we find:

For 100 schillings you could buy:

Beneath this title are listed a number of products with the amount you could have bought in 1949 and the amount you could purchase in the winter of 1952/53. Like the rest of the world, Austria suffered through a period of inflation in the early 50's. Some of the items shown are bread 52 ½ kg down to 28 ½ kg, sugar 23 ½ kg down to 15 ½ kg, milk 71 ½ liters down to 42 liters and coal 278 kg down to 125 kg. In all, eight different commodities are shown and their prices listed. The leaflet goes on to attack the OVP and SPO parties and ends with the comment:

Have your salaries, wages and pensions kept in step with these price increases? No! Therefore, let us bear in mind that the governing parties are responsible. Vote on February 22nd for the People's Opposition Party.

The message on the second vertical note is similar, except that some different commodities are listed.

We find such items as salt - 63 kg down to 31 kg, and men's shirts down from two to one. There is an additional section that attacks the middlemen involved in bringing farm products to the consumers. This section tells what price the farmer is paid for a commodity and what price the consumer pays. We are told that for 100 schillings the farmer supplies 16 Kg of beef, 140 Kg of potatoes or 16 liters of wine. By the time the products reach market, the consumer gets for the same 100 schillings only 4 Kg of beef, 80 Kg of potatoes or 5 liters of wine. The conclusion is:

These enormous price differences are due to middleman profit and taxes. Our income has not kept pace with these increased prices. In the cities and the farms the working man is being exploited. Therefore, we want to defeat the government and the OVP and SPO parties and the camp followers of the VdU party. On February 22nd we vote for the Election Union of the Austrian People's Opposition.

The VdU mentioned in the text was the Verband der Unabhangigen (Association of Independents), a small party of those opposed to the policies of the SPO and OVP, anti-Marxist in character. They were able to win 14 seats during the 1953 elections.

This propaganda note did not seem to help the Leftists to any great degree. Looking over the election results and the vote tally between 1949 and 1953 we see that the People's Party dropped slightly from 1.8 million to 1.78 million, the Socialist Party rose from 1.6 million to 1.88 million, and the Communist Party was only able to generate 15,000 additional votes, rising from 213,000 to 228,000. It seems that it takes more than a fancy propaganda banknote to convince the voter that a major change is needed.

The Communist 100 Shilling Parody (Front)

The Communist 100 Shilling Parody (Back)

The Austrian Communist Party also produced a parody of the 100 shillings Oesterreichische Nationalbank note of 1960. The note was printed with the appearances of a corner torn off on both the front and back and in the space we find the German language message in red "Who has torn off a piece here?"

The 100 Shilling Parody Message (First Page)

The note has been folded and when opened reveals the following messages:

A stitch in time saves nine. That is an old proverb. In 1958 someone had 10,000 schillings in the bank. But since then, as the OVP and SPO Parties have to admit, 1500 shillings have been eaten away through cost of living increases. Since 1958 the value of the schilling has been eaten away by fifteen percent. The reduction in value of the schilling has been greater than the increase in capital by interest. The devaluation of the schilling particularly affects the working people. The economic miracle children do not invest their money in savings. Their puppet schillings have been increased through profiteering during this inflation. The value of their shares has multiplied. They are the beneficiaries of this cost increase. Schilling Elections? Yes, but you must vote against people whose politics increased the prices of everything and reduced the size of the schilling.

The Communist Party of Austria.

The 100 Shilling Parody Message (Second Page)

The propaganda message on the inside second page is:

Schilling elections. The many schillings which one sees on today's poster boards are something that should be in one's pocket. Just before the elections, the OVP and SPO parties suddenly discovered their concern for the schilling. At night, the lazy become diligent. For years the inflation has reduced the value of salaries and pensions. During the last year this increase has been particularly large. The SPO blames the OVP and the OVP blames the SPO for the increase in prices, but did they not govern together? Were not all decisions of the government and parliament made unanimously? Both government parties are jointly responsible for the price increases. He who wants to fight against inflation votes Communist and Left Wing Socialist.

The political parties that are being attacked in this propaganda banknote are the two that ruled Austria for twenty years after the war. The "OVP" is the Osterreichische Volkpartei (Austrian People's Party) and the "SPO" is the Sozialistische Partei Osterreichs (Austrian Socialist Party). The Austrian Communist Party Kommunistische Partei Osterreichs or (KPO) never had any real following. They were able to win five seats in Parliament in 1949, but by 1959 they had no representation in the government. The Austrian Press and Information Service located in New York City was kind enough to explain that during October 21 and 22 1960, negotiations for the 1961 budget broke down. It was another week before the Austrian political parties could agree on expenses.


Independent-minded French citizens in the province of Quebec have clamored to be separated from the rest of Canada for many years. They have fought both politically and in some cases, with terrorism. Two parody banknotes are known to be connected with these movements, although that connection is not always clear.

The Alleged FLQ Propaganda Note

The first banknote would appear to be a Front de Liberation de Quebec (FLQ) terrorist note, inscribed "Une piastre / Banque de la Republique du Quebec", greenish-black, with various French patriotic symbols. A marching mob with independence placards are depicted on the back. In fact, the notes were prepared in the late 1960s by the Chevaliers de Independence, a small organization of rioters depicted on the back of the note. It was apparently designed for publicity and fund-raising, and the marcher at the head of the mob is Reggie Chartrand, their leader.

The Alleged FLQ Propaganda Note (Back)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police captured and destroyed the main hoard of notes after the October 1970 crisis that saw the kidnapping and death of Quebec labor minister Pierre LaPorte and the kidnapping of British trade commis­sioner James Cross. The FLQ was formed about 1963 as a cellular terrorist organization with Cuban trainers. On the night of 15 October 1970 The Canadian government declared martial law in Montreal. The military searches turned up weapons, explosives and propaganda leaflets printed in China and Cuba.

The FLQ Terrorist Note

A second banknote parody is a Canadian "FLQ" terrorist note, black on green, inscribed "Une piastre" and "Bastille 1789/Quebec 19??." The leaflet was issued by the Front for the Liberation of Quebec. The front and back are similar, with a proposed French Canadian flag as a central emblem on one side, and an FLQ badge as the central emblem on the other side. A nine-paragraph publicity flyer was released along with the propaganda banknote. Some of the text is:

The storming of the Bastille in 1789 is symbolic of French liberty and the hope of gaining the same freedom in 19?? for themselves.

The outline heavy black line signifies the intention of the French Canadians to establish a republic wall around Quebec but leaving the corners open to trade and commerce and diplomatic relations with the rest of the Canadian republic and the rest of the world.

The inner black lines protected by the F.L.Q. represent the inner walls of the sanctuary which will protect the culture, language and religion of the French Canadian people.

In other words the wish to revive the American spirit of 1776 and the French spirit of 1789 in order to show the way of independence and the forming of the republic of Canada to its sister provinces.

Pro-Quebec Propaganda Stamps

Some Canadian genuine banknotes have been overprinted with a rubber stamp inscription "Nous voulons le Quebec Libre," ("We want a free Quebec").

The anti-FLQ Banknote

Notes from the anti-Quebec Liberation movement also exist. Some stress the economic repercussion that would occur if "liberation" were achieved. One banknote resembles the Canadian one dollar bill but pictures Parti Quebecois leader Renee Levesque at the right and the words "The price of the separation" at the left in French. About one-third of the left of the note is blank, implying the loss of purchasing power of the banknote. There are two such notes, one depicting a portrait of Levesque issued in Sherbrooke in late 1970, the other issued by the Liberal Party in Lafleche about the same time.


The Genuine Cuban 20 Peso Banknote

I hesitate to mention these banknotes as part of a Cold War operation because they were allegedly to be used in the Bay of Pigs invasion. However, one would assume that the notes were printed well before the invasion and because they were such good imitations were probably used before and after the invasion in an attempt to harm the Cuban economy.

The "CIA" Forgery of the Cuban 20 Peso Banknote

It is alleged that the United States CIA forged Cuban 20 pesos Banco Nacional de Cuba notes of 1961 for the Bay of Pigs invasion. According to Alejandro Quesada in The Bay of Pigs: Cuba 1961,Osprey Publishing, 2009:

Each Brigade member taking part in the invasion was issued approximately 100 counterfeit Cuban pesos made by the CIA. This money was intended for purchasing supplies from the peasants and/or bribery.

However, a news item in Bank Note Reporter of June 1987, entitled "Cuban counterfeit deleted from Pick" reports that Cuban sources claimed that these items were privately produced, and were not made by the CIA. We tend to doubt the veracity of this report, delayed 25 years. We note that the Paper Money Guarantee (PMG) Company slabbed the note on occasion and identified it as "USA C.I.A. Counterfeit - Bay of Pigs Invasion Force Issue." The forgery; or a similar operation is mentioned in Bay of Pigs, Peter Wyden, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979. Wyden says:

When two million worth of pesos came ashore in four jute sacks that had gotten wet, the sacks were leaking blue, red, and green liquid, but the underground workers were only mildly annoyed. They knew that the CIA was sending them counterfeit money; that the printing and the paper were excellent but the ink was so unreliable you could usually wipe it off with saliva. The counterfeit money, tens and twenties, was used by middlemen who bought expensive items such as cars from people they hoped never to see again. The currency supplied to the infiltrators for their own use was authentic; at least the ink did not run.

The forgeries are rather easy to spot because of their serial numbers or lack of same. Four types are known:

1. F69 at left; no serial number at right.

2. F69 at left; reduced size serial number at right.

3. F70 at left; no serial number at right.

4. F70 at left: serial number at right.

Very little has appeared in the U.S. press about the PSYOP of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. It was a classified CIA operation. However, the Communists felt no need to keep any secrets and the book by Juan Carlos Rodriquez, The Inevitable Battle - From the Bay of Pigs to Playa Giron, Editorial Capitan San Luis, Havana, Cuba, 2013, although Cuban propaganda, does talk a lot about American PSYOP. Some of his data seems to be from the formerly classified CIA's own Inspector's General Survey of the Cuban Operation. Some of the comments are:

A psychological warfare campaign had been carried out by radio stations prepared especially for that purpose. One of them had gone on the air eleven months earlier: Radio Swan (Radio Free Cuba), which came in clearly, powerfully, and with a triumphal tone. Swan Island was a small island in the Gulf of Honduras.

The American command post was set up in a Washington DC building known as Quarters Eye. Propaganda plans were drawn up for psychologically softening up the Cuban people... This was the source of pamphlets dropped over the island... Cuba did not have sufficient or adequate radar equipment... several small planes in the Florida Keys dropped hundreds of thousands of pamphlets urging people to carry out sabotage, set fire to sugar cane fields and to attack militia members.

In Happy Valley, Nicaragua, the operations base for Brigade 2506, 11 million brochures were ready to be dropped over Cuban territory... By the time of the invasion, a total of 12 million pounds of leaflets had been dropped on Cuba.

The CIA estimates for the cost of propaganda operations was $500,000 in fiscal year 1960 and $1,200,000 in fiscal year 1961.

The "Banco Nacional de Red" 20 Peso Training Banknote

Usually, when one nation counterfeits the currency of another nation, it attempts to keep that act secret. Here, the United States seems to almost be saying to the Cubans "we did it," and thumbing its nose at them. This is a U.S. Army Special Forces training war game note against the mock nation of "Red." The same 20 peso note counterfeited for use in Cuba has now been parodied and turned into a safe conduct pass to be used by any Red soldier wanting to surrender or defect.

There are also anti-Castro overprints known on various Cuban banknotes. For instance, U.S. News and World Report stated on May 20, 1963 that evidence was mounting that harassment of Fidel Castro's Communist regime was growing inside Cuba. Cuba's one peso banknote depicted Castro's Triumphal entry into Havana in 1959, but on many of the notes in circulation, anti-Castro forces had printed the message:

Valueless for food. Valueless for clothing.
Because Communism is hunger, misery and destruction.
This is the work of the great traitor.

Anti-Cuban Propaganda Leaflets

Numerous propaganda leaflets were printed along with the fake banknotes. This Miami Herald staff photograph taken by Bill Kuenzel depicts a number of anti-Castro sabotage and propaganda leaflets washed up on Miami Beach on 26 July, 1963. One of the leaflets depicts two ways to sabotage a telephone and text. Many of the leaflets end with "Sabotage is necessary for liberty" and "Russians: out of Cuba." Another depicts cogs in machine and an oil can and asks Cuban workers to sabotage production by breaking machinery and not oiling it. A third propaganda leaflet depicts an automobile motor and radiator. It tells the Cubans:

If it is necessary to damage official vehicles or those confiscated from businesses.  Zero oil to the motor. Zero water to the radiator.

A fourth leaflet depicts a hand dropping a lit match into flammable materials and tells the Cubans:

It causes fires...Drop matches or cigars where there are rags, straw, wood, paper and fuel.

We know a good deal about the propaganda missions over Cuba from the CIA Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation.

Documents on air operations show that in late November 1960, a major air strike was planned for B-26's bombers carrying both ordnance and leaflets against unspecified targets in Cuba. Two other B-26s flew a propaganda drop on 12 December 1960. They worked the western end of Cuba, from the Isle of Pines to Cienfuegos, including Havana; and on the same night, a C-54 cargo aircraft dropped leaflets in the Manzanillo area. The total leaflets dropped during the three December 1960 missions by the B26s were 1,700 pounds and 1000 pounds of leaflets. The C-54 dropped 1,000 pounds of leaflets.

It appears that the limited aircraft assigned to the invasion were unable to drop all the leaflets that had been printed. On 15 February 1961, 75,000 leaflets asking teachers to support a student strike were available from Miami for an upcoming drop and that 100 pounds of materials bearing the "fish symbol" were also ready for use in a drop aimed at Villanueva University in Havana. On 18 February, a cable stated that there were approximately 18,000 pounds of leaflets in a warehouse ready for pickup.

In all, there were 23 leaflet drops between 12 December 1960 and the collapse of the Bay of Pigs Operation. About 12 million leaflets were dropped in addition to assorted publications.

The CIA report mentions some specific leaflets. One suggestion was that leaflets should be prepared depicting the crucifix upside down, to signify the Soviet treatment of religion, and that these leaflets should be distributed widely through Cuba. There is no indication that this particular leaflet was ever printed.

In another instance, the Hammer and Sickle was used to form the "T" in the word "Traidor" on a sticker that was prepared for propaganda use. In anticipation of the possible visit, 10,000 stickers of an anti-Khrushchev, anti-Soviet nature were forwarded from Headquarters to Havana Station. The legend on one of these was "Cuba, Yes; Russia, No; Khrushchev, No;" and a second item showed a prisoner behind bars formed by the stripes of the Cuban flag with the words Sin Palabras, "Without word." The stickers were never used.

Genuine Cuban 5 Peso Banknote

The United States prepared a leaflet in the form of a 5 peso note as it prepared to drive the Cubans and Marxist government out of Grenada.

The Grenada story began on 13 March 1979 when Maurice Bishop overthrew the legitimate government and established a communist society. The New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation (New Jewel Movement) ousted Sir Eric Gairy, Grenada's first Prime Minister, and established a people's revolutionary government. Grenada began construction of a 10,000 foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States. President Ronald Reagan accused Grenada of constructing facilities to aid a Soviet and Cuban military build-up in the Caribbean. There was also worry about the large number of weapons flowing into Grenada. One shipment in 1979 contained 3400 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition. In addition, there were about 600 American medical students studying in Grenada and another 400 foreign citizens. The safety of these Americans became a factor when Maurice Bishop and several members of his cabinet were murdered by elements of the people's revolutionary army on 13 October 1983. The even more reactionary and violent Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard who led a Marxist-influenced group within the Grenadian Army replaced Bishop. President Reagan called the leaders of the new government "A brutal group of leftist thugs."

The United States reacted to the bloody coup in Grenada within two weeks. On 25 October 1983 American troops landed on the beaches of Grenada. They were assisted in part by members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), specifically Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, St Lucia and St Vincent. They were opposed by Grenadian and Cuban military units and military advisors from the Soviet Union, North Korea, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Libya.

5 Peso Safe Conduct Pass

The propaganda banknote was depicted in the book Grenada - Revolution, Invasion and Aftermath, Hugh O'Shaughnessy, Sphere Books, London, 1984. He describes it as:

Safe conduct pass in the form of a Cuban 5 peso banknote bearing the picture of Antonio Maceo, black hero of Cuban independence (Authors note: Antonio Maceo y Grajales, 1845-1896). Distributed by U.S. troops for use by Cubans during the October invasion.

I later wrote this leaflet up in the International Banknote Society Journal, Volume 30, No. 4, 1991. The banknote leaflet parodied the Cuban 5 peso note of 1961-1965. The genuine Cuban note is green, but the propaganda note is crudely drawn in bright pink-violet. The text on the front in both English and Spanish is:


To those who are resisting the Caribbean Peace Force. You will be taken to a safe place where your needs will be met. Food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment are available.

The back of the banknote leaflet has "SAFE CONDUCT" at the top and bottom of the note in English and Spanish.

Stanley Sandler points out in Cease Resistance: it's good for you: a History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations:

The use of a Cuban rather than a Grenadian note showed that planners were understandably more concerned with resistance from the Cuban construction battalions than any from the rag-tag Grenadian local defense forces.

Costa 5 Peso Banknote

Before we leave this interesting propaganda leaflet that parodies a Cuban 5 peso banknote we should point out that the U.S. military apparently liked this vignette. In the years afterwards the same banknote leaflet was used numerous times in war games and training exercises where U.S. Army Special Forces had to work with and pay mock rebel forces. Here, in a war game between the nations of Costa and Ventura this banknote offers safe conduct and humane treatment to any soldier of Costa who turns himself in. Variations of this banknote leaflet were used in at least a half-dozen other war games.


The Genuine Czechoslovakian One Koruna Banknote

Note: Some of the Operation Prospero material in this article was used, with author's permission, in the Brian Kannard book Steinbeck: Citizen Spy, Grave Distractions Publications, Nashville, TN, 2013.

The first such propaganda banknote we will discuss is a parody of the Czechoslovak State Bank one Koruna of 1953. This story began in June, 1953 when the Czech Government launched a major currency reform. Western experts believed that many thousands of workers and farmers would have their life savings wiped out as a result of this massive currency change. This was considered an excellent opportunity for an anti-Communist campaign by the West and the Crusade for Europe organization, in conjunction with Radio Free Europe, designed a leaflet and radio attack to take advantage of the situation. The leaflets were ordered by Free Europe Press, a division of the Free Europe Committee and prepared by Reynolds Offset, a New York City print shop, in sheets of 40 (8 across and 5 down). Ken Graeber was the printer. He said:

The two men who brought it into the plant made any number of cryptic remarks about its secrecy. We would be reading about it soon they said, and there were remarks about "balloons." I do not recall how many we printed but it was not one of our larger jobs... perhaps less than three days run on the press.

This project was explained in a small booklet entitled A New Weapon, published by the Free Europe Press. The operation was named "Prospero." It would involve the sending of 6,512 balloons and saturation broadcasts at the rate of twenty hours a day from the RFE transmitters located at Holz-kirchen, West Germany. This was a hurriedly prepared tactical exercise prompted by the riots in Prague, Pilsen, and Ostrava brought on by the drastic Czechoslovak currency reforms that effectively wiped out the savings of the population. The operation was closely coordinated with radio broadcasts by RFE's "Voice of Free Czechoslovakia."

Allan A. Michie talks about the start of the balloon campaign in Voices through the Iron Curtain: the Radio Free Europe Story, Dodd/Mead, 1963:

In the summer of 1951, the free Europe Committee acquired a stock of large weather balloons, about four feet in diameter when inflated, and decided to launch them from Germany across to Czechoslovakia, taking advantage of the prevailing west to east winds in the upper attitudes. Working at night from a wheat field only three miles from the Czechoslovak frontier, a crew of German workers stuffed the balloons with leaflets, inflated them with hydrogen and sailed them across the border. Each balloon carried some 3,000 leaflets.

Richard H. Cummings tells us more about the balloons in his article, "Balloons over East Europe: America's Covert radio and Leaflet Operations in the Cold War." He says that in 1948, under the code name "Project Ultimate," the CIA's Special Procedures Group (SPG) had a printing press and stockpile of world war two meteorological balloons to carry and deliver propaganda leaflets into East European countries in the event of war. He continues:

The first balloons were launched on 12 August 1951 in an open field only 3 miles from the Czechoslovak border. This test operation, known as the "Winds of Freedom," was on an experimental stand-alone basis, i.e., the launching of the balloons was not part of a coordinated programming effort with Radio Free Europe broadcasts. The Free Europe Press (FEP) printed up millions of propaganda leaflets to be launched. The leaflets contained such slogans as "A new hope is stirring," and "Friends of Freedom in other lands have found a new way to reach you."

Cummings mentions the campaign again in the book Cold War Radio: the Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe 1950-1989, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina and London, 2009. He says in part:

Prospero was the code name for the RFE balloon program in summer 1953, when in a time span of only four days, 6.5000 balloons with over 12 million RFE leaflets were launched into Czechoslovakia...

The regime responded to Prospero by using military aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons along the border to shoot down the balloons the day after the first launching... Police cars in Prague and elsewhere used loudspeakers ordering citizens to turn in all the leaflets... Because of the violent reaction and the media attacks, RFE inadvertently discovered that the balloon program was more successful than first planned.

Arch Puddington mentions the balloon campaign in Broadcasting Freedom, University Press of Kentucky, 2000. Puddington says:

A major goal of the balloon campaign was to provide the Radio Free Europe audience with something approximating a free press. In addition...the Free Europe Press produced small newspapers in editions of two million, which were dropped more or less regularly to Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia between 1954 and 1956.

The Free Europe Press eventually built at least three launch sites in Bavaria and near the West German-Austria border...the annual cost of maintaining one launch site was nearly $500,000.

The Radio Free Europe One Koruna Banknote

On the nights of 13 through 17 July 1953, over twelve million leaflets were sent from the German-Czech border by 6,500 balloon. There were three different types of leaflets, including a propaganda banknote produced by RFE similar to the original banknote in size and color, but with the addition of a message block with text at the upper right on the front and at the upper left on the back of the note. The message was translated in the article "West Wind over Prague," published in News From Behind the Iron Curtain, August 1953:


It is the proof of the government's helplessness and bankruptcy of the five-year plan, a remembrance of what you have had stolen by the government.

It is the appeal to fight, the appeal to direct the people's power against the weakness of the regime and to resist as best you can. The peoples of other countries enslaved by the Soviet Union are writing and will join you in your struggle. The free world is with you. All power belongs to the people!

On the other side of the parody banknote the text is:


The regime is weakening and is afraid of you. The power is in the people and the people are against the regime. Unite and mobilize your forces! Down with the collective farms! Insist on the rights of the workers! Today demand concessions, tomorrow freedom!

At the same time, anti-Soviet messages were broadcast by the propaganda radio stations:

The Soviet Union is growing weaker. Only those will survive who detach themselves from the Communist boat in time... Everywhere in the Free World your friends are with you...All power to the people.

On Prospero's final night lighted lanterns were attached to the balloons for dramatic effect.

John Allen Stern mentioned the RFE and the Crusade for Freedom operations in C.D. Jackson: Cold War Propagandist for Democracy and Globalism, University Press of America, 2012. Stern implies that it was an operation meant to cause a panic.

In one of the more memorable and successful American psywar capers (one that caused the communists to look silly and unsophisticated), RFE broadcasters and CIA operatives got together to "stimulate 'a nationwide buying panic in Czechoslovakia." Even before its inaugural broadcast from Munich on Mayday 1951, RFE intelligence analysts had been watching Czechoslovakia's precarious currency situation. After months of careful study, Radio Free Europe, using both the diverse talents and cultural expertise of the exiles, decided on a frontal broadcasting assault. In January 1952, the station started warning the Czechs of impending currency devaluation, and a resulting monetary crisis. This stunt reaped its expected reward as a frenzied populace strained the limits of the Czech nation's meager supplies. Operations such as these stirred the restive population of the satellite bloc nations and caused significant cracks in the uneasy relationships between the Kremlin and East European leaders.

The Radio Free Europe 25 Heller Coin

The second "leaflet" was in the form of an aluminum 25 Heller coin stamped with the Freedom Bell and the text:

All Czechs and Slovaks for Freedom.

All the Free World for the Czechs and Slovaks.

Arch Puddington mentions the origin of the Freedom bell:

Some four hundred thousand Germans lined the streets of West Berlin on October 24, 1950, to cheer General Lucius Clay, the hero of the Berlin Airlift and the figure who symbolized the Free World alliance of the United States and Europe...And there was the bell itself: eight feet high, weighing more than 10 tons, it was essentially a replica of the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia's Liberty Hall...

The bell was sponsored, and it was assumed, paid for by a new organization called the Crusade for Freedom...Clay then pressed the button that would ring the bell. Its deep peels could be heard in the Soviet sector of the city, ten miles away.

The third leaflet was a one-page sheet with pictures of the Berlin uprising and a description of the ferment inside the USSR, including the purge of Beria.

At the same time that the balloons were floating overhead, RFE was playing a song specially written for the occasion, "The Iron Curtain Does Not Reach the Sky". The radio advised finders of the leaflets to hand a small percentage over to the police to protect themselves and pass the rest on to friends and neighbors.

The Operation Prospero Leaflets Ready for Dissemination

On 18 July, Rude Pravo, official organ of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, published a lengthy article attacking this campaign and likening it to Hitler's hate-propaganda. It said in part:

Our citizens arrive with expressions of justified disgust at the leaflets, and they find offense in one leaflet which is some kind of copy of the new Czechoslovak Koruna, covered on both sides by a slanderous text. Our people respect the new Koruna, its firm purchasing power which enabled us to discard the ration system, and therefore they deplore, in harsh and not too selective language, that the effigy of the Koruna has been misused for printing on it stupid lies and slander against the government of our Republic and against the Soviet Union.

Several attempts were made to end this campaign of balloon warfare. In late 1954 a Czech agent was apprehended as he attempted to cross the border with forged papers. When questioned, he explained that he had been ordered to burn the balloon launching site at Tirschenreuth. When asked why he carried a weapon, he replied that his orders were to kill anyone who tried to stop him.

Operation Prospero Balloon Launching

The Communist military forces were also involved in an attempt to stop the spread of the Western propaganda. On 15 July 1953, Russian-built MiG-15 jet fighters attacked the airborne balloons and were credited with two "kills." It was reported that anti-aircraft batteries downed three more.

According to an article entitled "Balloons and the Big Lie", published in East Europe, July, 1958, the Czechs also attempted to keep the propaganda out of the hands of their citizens by claiming that the balloons were dangerous, carried explosives, germs and incendiary devices. When a Czechoslovak Airlines passenger plane crashed on 18 January 1956, killing twenty-two passengers and crew, they claimed that the aircraft had been brought down by a Free Europe Press propaganda balloon. The United States refuted this claim, stating that the aircraft was flying in an area of poor visibility with high wind velocities and icing conditions. The US explanation was that the pilot was attempting to find a landing site other than Poprad Airfield in the High Tatra Mountains and while flying in extremely high winds, dependent on instruments, had crashed into a hill due to faulty altimeter settings.

There is no way to determine what, if any, results were achieved by this psychological warfare operation. In 1956 a count was made of all the references to balloons and leaflets in the Communist press. It was found that the Czechs had complained about these propaganda campaigns no less than 487 times. There were 1,303 complaints in the entire Communist bloc during the months of January and February 1956 alone. The United States may not have changed many minds, but if nothing else, it seems to have cut heavily into their supply of printer's ink.


The Genuine German Democratic Republic 20 Mark Note

There were other interesting psywar operations being carried out in 1953. The East Germans had risen up and attempted to throw out their Russian masters. This revolt had been brutally put down. Once again, this was seen as an opportunity to strike at the Communist system.

The West Berlin printing house Standard Verlag produced a fine parody of the German Democratic Republic 20 Mark note of 1948. This printing firm was alleged to have been connected with Radio Free Europe. It produced a number of anti-Communist publications such as magazines, newspapers and leaflets. Probably the best known publication was the satirical magazine Tarantel, an eight‑page satirical periodical in printed Berlin and sent by balloon into East Germany. It regularly attacked Russian control of the German Democratic Republic. They also published an English-language newsletter entitled International Press Service. Much of this material was sent into Germany through the Radio Free Europe balloons, the postal system, small rockets and, in some cases, simply throwing the literature out of the windows of trains moving through Germany.

Time mentioned Tarantel in an article entitled "Armed with a Snicker," 12 January 1959. It said in part:

Tied to a balloon or bobbing down a canal in a bottle, the little magazine slips each month into Communist East Germany from the Western zone of Berlin. The cover of the contraband Tarantel (tarantula) proclaims that it is "priceless," but for East Germans caught chuckling over the magazine's sledgehammer humor, the price can be a term in a Red prison. Despite its problems of distribution and retribution, Tarantel is a big success among East Germans. Reason: the butt of humor for Tarantel is East Germany's Communist government.

Each month about half of Tarantel's press run of 250,000-300,000 goes to West Berliners; the rest is slipped into East Germany. Tarantel is designed for hidden persuasion: the size of a theater program, it can be concealed in a book, fits easily into a standard German envelope. The remarkable distribution system includes mailings from other countries, including Russia, and delivery by underground members, who delight in dropping copies into Stalin Alice mailboxes and onto the bookshelves of the Soviet House of Culture. Replies to a standard request for reader comment ("Don't forget to use a false return address") show that Tarantel is regularly read all over East Germany.

The Tarantel Propaganda Note Folded Correctly

The 20 Mark parody banknote is brighter and sharper than the original note. It is very colorful and printed on high quality glossy paper. The propaganda text is found at the upper left diagonally on the front and the lower right diagonally on the back. This strange system allows the note to be folded in such a way that no text can be seen. The advantage of this system is that even the most diehard Communist who might never look at Western propaganda would be tempted to pick up this banknote. Once it was in his hands, it was hoped that he could not resist reading the message.

And what was the message? It was an attack on the Russian control of the Currency of the German Democratic Republic. The text on the front stated:

Comrades! All money circulated begins and ends in Moscow. There go our notes of protest, and also there go our banknotes. We have to take leave of them as soon as we hear their sound in our pay envelope. The government stores ask more money than a working man owns; cost what it will, this prosperity has to be defended at any price. Because through the help of our Soviet friends, the East Mark exchange value was put at such a high level that swindle is unavoidable. This results from the backing the friends of our government gave for it. Without this backing even a healthy exchange of money would not be possible.

The Unfolded Tarantel Propaganda Banknote

There is a serial number "F17653" that translates to "Freedom 17 June 1953," the date of the East German uprisings.

On the back of the note the text is:

Appearances can deceive, and so can this note - Its value is nothing but noise and smoke, because the Party sends 10 out of every 20 marks to Moscow.

We should mention that because the group preparing this leaflet normally wrote satire, the note is heavily laced with puns and double meanings. The message can be translated with some other more insulting comments about the Communist leadership.

The Tarantel Propaganda Coin

The Tarantel organization was also responsible for a small mock-gold coin that bears anti-Communist propaganda on the front and back. The front of the coin depicts a large "W" and the words Wir Wollen Wahlen ("We want to vote"). On the back of the coin a hand is depicted with three fingers raised to form a "W" and the German text that translates to "Economic Welfare, Vote, Reunification."

The East German 20 Mark note was quite a popular target for anti-Communist groups. We will now discuss another organization that also used it to carry anti-Soviet propaganda.

NTS - published by Possev-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The Narodno Trudovoy Soyuz Rossiyskikh Solidaristov (Popular Labor Alliance of Russian Solidarists) is a non-Communist, Russian political organization founded in Belgrade in 1930 to offer a democratic alternative to the Soviet Communist Party. This organization, known as the "NTS," is probably the most feared of the patriotic movements that fought against the USSR. For forty years they produced leaflet and radio propaganda. They sent numerous agents behind the Iron Curtain. The initials, besides standing for the organization, are also used for two patriotic slogans Nesem tiranam smert (We are bringing death to tyrants) and Nesem trudiashimsia svobodu (We are bringing liberty to the workers).

The background of this group is told in a booklet NTS, published by Possev-Verlag in 1961. It explains that the NTS is a revolutionary movement, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the Soviet regime. In 1953, a special instruction to the Soviet Secret Service signed by the Minister of State Security, called the NTS:

Enemy Number One of the Soviet Union

Possev-Verlag (The Sowing - Printing House) was first established by the NTS in 1945 at the Moenchehof Displaced Persons Camp. After several moves caused by Communist verbal and physical attacks, it was permanently quartered in the suburbs of Frankfurt, West Germany.

The printing presses produced over 100 million copies of various types of literature and sent them to Russia and other East European countries since 1945. This literature was inserted between the goods in crates destined for the USSR, thrown in waterproof containers into rivers flowing across the border, mailed to known addresses, carried by agents crossing the Iron Curtain secretly and flown over in balloons.

A Typical NTS Propaganda Leaflet

Suppress the power of the Communists! Have you found your place in the revolutionary struggle for freedom in Russia? Things which are worth living for are worth dying for. Arise, all you who are strong in spirit - your motherland awaits you.

The Soviets hated the organization. In 1957, the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta wrote:

In March 1953, the NTS printed 14 million leaflets and dispatched them by balloon from the German Federal Republic in an easterly direction. It has been ascertained that the NTS sends not only leaflets, but also secret agents into the countries of Eastern Europe...

Sovetskaya Moldavia said in 1960:

Any means are legitimate to the NTS in their work of spreading anti-Soviet forgeries throughout the country. Pamphlets, leaflets, calumnious letters are sent to such addresses as they succeed in obtaining; these are slipped into parcels of books, in folders, into the packing of machinery imported from abroad.

The balloons, over 20 meters in diameter, could lift a maximum payload of 90 kilograms. A special mechanism insured the successive release of printed material every 400-500 kilometers. By the use of these and smaller meteorological balloons, NTS flew 86,867,000 leaflets into the USSR between 1951 and 1956. In particular, innumerable leaflets, small brochures and special editions were printed during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Berlin Uprising of 1953.

In regard to the latter, we quote from The House of Secrets, Gordon Young, Duell Sloan and Pearce, NY, 1959:

Inhabitants of various towns in East Germany from time to time have been astonished to find lying on pavements, in parks, on barroom floors and elsewhere realistic-looking twenty-mark banknotes. Eagerly they have picked them up - only to find that on the back side was printed an appeal by the NTS and the request that the well-counterfeited notes should be passed on to some Russian friend.

Puddington mentions the NTS in Broadcasting Freedom:

In the mid-fifties, the countries of Communist Eastern Europe were inundated with balloon leaflets sponsored by a variety of sources. The CIA had its own balloon project. So did the shadowy anti-Soviet Narodny Trudovoi Soyuz, the National Labor Union...The NTS boasted a global network of agents and a core of devoted supporters within the Soviet Union who championed an ideology of anticommunism and Russian nationalism. The NTS tried to reach the Soviet Union by launching their balloons from West Berlin.


The NTS 20 Mark East German Banknote

The NTS propaganda banknote is a close match to the genuine German Democratic Republic 20 Mark of 1948. The colors are a bit more somber, being a duller, darker brown with none of the bright highlights found on the original. The paper of the parody is also darker with a brownish tinge. The genuine is printed on a bright, white paper. The serial number of the propaganda note is in "XV 471200" in brown, while the genuine notes have their serial number in red. Generally speaking, even with the differences in shade, the notes could easily be confused, since the NTS product was prepared photographically from the original and certainly has the appearance of currency at first glance.

The Message side of the Banknote "Soldiers and Officers."

There are two types of NTS 20 Mark propaganda notes known at present. One has the Russian title Dorogie Drovzia (Dear Friends), the other Soldati I Ofitsieri (Soldiers and officers). Both have a second propaganda message in German which has the heading Deutsche Freude (German friends). Both notes are sometimes found with a Cyrillic overprint in red which translates to "specimen."

The Russian language message of the Soldati I Ofitsieri leaflet is:

Soldiers and Officers!

On the 17th of June 1953, the workers of Berlin rose in protest. They rose against the Communist regime. In two days the uprising covered the entire zone. In panic, the government sent out tanks against the workers. Heeding the call of the NTS, the tankers refused to shoot the revolutionists. We understand the plight of the Germans. They were waiting for us to come to their rescue and help them get back their Fatherland.

The attempted uprising of the 17th of June was not in vain. At this moment, in the Eastern Zone, there is again a stormy situation. A general uprising is liable to break out at any moment. It is our duty to support them.

Don't shoot into the revolutionists! Join with them in their struggle against the common enemy - the Communist regime.

The union of the German fighters and our own soldiers is a good assurance of victory in the struggle of our own and of the German people.

Long Live the Peoples Revolution!

The message is signed by "The Revolutionary Staff of the NTS". Directly below this message to the Russian military we find the second message written in German:

German Friends!

The NTS is a Russian revolutionary organization, and is fighting the Communist regime.

The NTS is addressing itself in Russian text to the Soviet soldiers.

The NTS is appealing to the Soviet soldiers for a new uprising in the zone, not to shoot at the Germans, but to unite with them. Only the union of the Russians and the Germans guarantees a successful uprising, and brings freedom to both nations. Help spread this leaflet.

Once again the message ends with "NTS - The Revolutionary Staff". The leaflet also bears symbols such as the three-pronged pitchfork, which is the symbol of the NTS and represents the unity of workers, farmers and intellectuals in the new national revolution.

It is doubtful that many East Germans passed these on to their Russian allies as requested by the NTS. Besides being inhospitable, it was probably extremely dangerous.

Genuine East German 1 Mark Banknote of 1948

Do we know of any other western propaganda banknotes sent against the Communist regimes by the NTS? Dr. Julius Mader mentions another in an article entitled "Counterfeit Money as a Weapon of the USA", published in The Baltic Sea Newspaper, 12 September 1981. He claims that a CIA-front organization (possibly the NTS) counterfeited German Democratic Republic I mark notes of 1948 and disseminated them by balloon in 1953. Mader says all of the counterfeits have the serial number "AM 7090673." The text on the back of these notes is:

Germany's unity in freedom
Secures in the East and West
The equal purchasing power of our currency in all of Germany.
Therefore, fight the red oppressors
Until they are destroyed.
Council of the Free German Workers and Peasants
In the Soviet Occupation Zone.

Did the Communists fight back with propaganda material of their own? Of course they did. One of the most interesting items was a parody of the West German 10 Mark Bank Deutsch Lander note of 1949.

The Genuine West German 10 Mark Note

The note is a good photographic copy. The color of the parody is all blue, whereas the genuine note also has a small amount of red scrollwork. The printing of the fraud is slightly blurred compared to the original note. However, the imitation is good enough to have been passed as legitimate currency in several cases. The radio and press warned the public about attempting to use the fake currency, but several people were unconvinced and as a direct result ended up charged with passing counterfeit currency. It is believed that the radio campaign which promised immediate prosecution and severe sentencing to anyone caught passing these frauds held this criminal act to a minimum.

The Anti-Adenauer Communist Banknote

The parody was printed on both front and back. The serial number of the fraud is "N3061371J." The note has been folded and it is only when opened that the propaganda text appears. The West German police reported that these notes were found in a printing plant in West Germany. The same premises were also found to have been publishing Free People, the official organ of the illegal Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany. The police had searched for this printing plant for two years and found it just as it was about to go into full production. When the warehouse of this firm was raided, the great majority of the propaganda banknotes were confiscated and destroyed. However, between one and two thousand were distributed before the raid occurred. The authorities stated that the Communist Party had produced numerous other types of anti-West propaganda to be disseminated during the parliamentary elections of 1957.

The Inside of 1957 Anti-Adenauer Communist Banknote

When opened up, the following message in German was exposed:

This bill naturally is not genuine. But have you ever given any thought to the fact that the 10 Mark bill in your pocketbook is also a fraud? You cannot buy 10 DM worth of goods for such a note, since about 2.50 DM of this bill has to go to taxes for the Adenauer Government. So as not to be so noticeable, the Government has added these taxes to the prices of goods.

A chart is then shown which lists various highly taxed consumer goods. We find coffee, tea, sugar, matches and cigarettes. The taxes on each are listed and the percentages run from 19 to 57.5%. The message ends with the statement:

These examples can be continued at random. And what does the Government do with the 2.50 DM? It goes for soldiers, guns, tanks, planes and atomic armaments. Do you earn your money for that? No! Therefore on September 15th, do away with Atom Adenauer, vote no for the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Socialist Union. The party of the tax oppressors and armament-hyenas. Vote Socialist Democratic Party!

The German Communist Party.

When we first saw this propaganda note, we wondered why the Communists would support the party of Willy Brandt, a man who was perceived as strongly pro-American in the early 1950's and who had once stated in 1949:

You cannot be a democrat without being anti-Communist.

He had joined with President John Kennedy at the Berlin Wall and cheered when the young American made his famous "I am a Berliner" comment. At the time it was believed that this banknote was an attempt to smear Brandt, perhaps with Adenauer's blessing. However, time has shown that Brandt was not nearly as pro-Western as thought. He did eventually become Chancellor of Germany and even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. At the same time, his Eastern policies led directly to the acceptance of Russian control of vast areas of conquered territories. He was finally unseated in 1974 when it was discovered that his personal aide, Gunter Guillaume, was an officer in the German Democratic Republic People's Army and an espionage agent for the Ministry of State Security (MfS). Since 1976 Brandt has served as Chairman of Socialist International, a group that has supported both the Sandinista regime of Nicaragua and the left-wing guerrillas in El Salvador. We could suspect that the propaganda banknote supporting Brandt was produced by the Communist Party in 1957 because they had already recognized him as a possible future ally.


The Communist Election Note of 1953

The Back of the Communist Election Note of 1953

The Communist Party prepared a propaganda note for the election of 1953. It was slightly larger than the genuine currency, measuring 165x75mm. This note did not unfold, but had the propaganda message on the back in black text on white paper. Once again it attacked the four years of Adenauer, the parties in power and compared prices between 1949 and 1953 for such items as milk, butter and sauerkraut. The message ended:

Vote the German Communist Party.

The Genuine German 20 Mark Banknote

Another banknote was designed to bring young Germans to the East where they might be influenced by the glory of Communism. It is a parody of the German Federal Republic 20 Deutsche mark note of 1948. The imitation has been folded so that the outside face and back shows the back of the genuine note ("Zwanzig Deutsche Mark") in green. The color of the parody is lighter in shade than the genuine note.

The Communist 1951 Festival Invitation Banknote

When opened, the following propaganda text is found in German:

Won't you...

— For 20 German marks, 10 German marks or even only 5 German marks, depending on where you live-

...Spend 14 days on a wonderful vacation?

...See the best cultural groups of the world singing, dancing and playing?

...See the German swimming champion Herbert Klein, and the Soviet world champion

Meschkow setting new records?

...Schade and Zatopek running long distance for the victory palm?

...Be present when Dynamo Moscow is playing against a West European football team?

...Meet young people from all over the world — from Lapland to South Africa?

...Watch the world's best movies?

...Take part in a magnificent lake party on the Muggel-lake? What? All this is available for less than 50 German marks? Yes, of course. At the World Festival Games of the Youth and Students for Peace in Berlin. Everybody can take part! You only need 5 German marks or 10 German marks — 20 German marks are sufficient for those living very far away. You only need to pay 50% of the fare up to the demarcation line. Afterwards you are our guests and have no further expenses.

Join us in Berlin!

To the World Festival Games of the Youth and Students for Peace.

From 1 until 20 August 1951.

The remainder of the text is a registration form to be filled out by the finder of the leaflet. Additional text at the bottom of the message states that Manfred von Brauchitsch is the president of the West German Committee for Preparation of the World Festival Games. The parody was prepared by "Nolting's printing office, Hamburg 36."

The back of the 1951 Festival Invitation Banknote

How were these notes disseminated? Probably by hand. However, we do have a newspaper clipping that indicates that at least some were sent through the mail. An undated 1951 column entitled "Gottingen today" mentions the bank note parody. The article states:

A friendly reader put an invitation on our table which was mailed by the West German Committee for Preparation of the World Festival Games to youngsters and students of the Western Zone. The Communists behave anti-capitalistic, but the Committee found it appropriate—following the old proverb that 'with bacon you will catch mice'-to add a capitalistic appearance to the invitation. The outside imitates two twenty mark notes.

The writer then goes on to sarcastically discuss the text of the leaflet. He ends:

You see, the Communists understand propaganda. They clearly know that with the World Festival phrases alone they will not lure many dogs from behind the ovens in West Germany. That is why they appeared capitalistic under the cover of a twenty mark note, which, as that are famous for any kind of counterfeiting — is not clumsily reproduced.

When I found the propaganda bank note it was accompanied by a number of German newspaper clippings mentioning committee president von Brauchitsch. I am unable to properly reference the clippings, but we can assume that they were from local West German newspapers published between 1951 and 1953.

The first clipping is labeled "Mannheim" and tells of von Brauchitsch being elected president of a:

Committee for the Unity within German Sports. He had invited 400 guests to a restaurant to meet various German boxing personalities. In a prepared speech von Brauchitsch spoke against 'militaristic tendencies within German sports.

The second undated clipping reads:

Another arrest. The former race-driver Manfred von Brauchitsch was arrested for suspicion of high treason. He is the president of the "Committee for the Unity and Freedom of German Sports/' an organization controlled by the Soviet occupied zone.

Further research has shown von Brauchitsch was arrested in early 1953, so this clipping probably dates from about that time.

The final clipping is from the German Press Agency and is labeled "Munich, 8 May". It states; that a lawyer known for defending Communist Party members has taken the case. It further mentions that the general manager of the sports committee, Martin Hamann, has also been arrested.

Further research has indicated that von Brauchitsch was released 15 May 1953. On 30 September 1953 he was again arrested on suspicion of treason. On 25 March 1954 he was released after giving his word of honor that he would be present at his trial. Manfred von Brauchitsch immediately crossed the border into the German Democratic Republic where he took up residence in Grafenwarth.

I actually heard from a gentleman in 1991 who had attended the games. He said:

I was there as a 16-year-old boy and helped the Commies celebrate their festival. We went by train and boat on the River Spree inside the city of Berlin. I actually had fun there. I really cared little about the politics of the festival.

Another early monetary campaign reminds us of today's computer hackers. Allegedly, the Kampfgruppe Gegen Unmenschlichkeit (Fighters against Inhumanity) based in West Berlin, found a way to break the codes used by the banks of the German Democratic Republic. The KgU then moved money from one bank to another illegally, causing great confusion in the East German economy. This was supposed to have been done just prior to the uprising in the DDR in June of 1953. It is unknown if the KgU drew upon the funds that were moved or simply used the technique to cause confusion and fear among those that had their savings in the victimized banks. The KgU has also been charged with counterfeiting coal, food, gasoline and other ration cards of the DDR.

Communist Banknote Leaflet

There is one last item of interest that we should discuss. It is not in the form of a banknote, but it is a Communist leaflet that pictures banknotes on the front in an attempt to catch the attention of the reader. Since it uses currency as the "hook" we believe it deserves mention.

We are speaking of a German Communist Party leaflet that shows three West German 50 marks Bundesbank notes of 1960 on the front. The size of the leaflet is 145x200mm. Each of the banknotes is shown in the green and brown of the original currency.

In place of the portrait of Chamberlain Urmiller that appears on the genuine notes, West German politicians appear. At the left of the notes we find the bright red text Vorsicht, Bluten! ("Beware, Funny Money!").

Communist Banknote Leaflet (Message Side)

When the leaflet is turned over we find a long German-language attack on the value of the German currency. The text is all in black, except for paragraph headings which have been highlighted in red. The propaganda message reads:

Any honest man dislikes counterfeiters - in money as well as in politics. Warning! Political counterfeiters are at work!

These are their words: "The German Government stands for effective peace policy through which legal tensions are eliminated and the arms race is halted. We will cooperate in suggestions concerning control, reduction and elimination of armaments. We are interested in improving relations with our Eastern neighbors in all areas of economic, political and cultural life." This quote is an official Government statement dated December 1966.

The Communists then go on to tell what they believe to be the true sentiments of the West German Government.

These are the facts: Instead of starting proper relations with the DDR - non-recognition and the claim of sole responsibility for German matters. Instead of accepting the DDR's suggestion to reduce the arms budget by 50%, the offer has been rejected. Instead of speaking out against the dirty US war in Vietnam, increased support of the American war crimes. Instead of genuine friendship with Eastern Europe, demand for the return of the borders of 1937. Instead of an all-encompassing nuclear weapons ban, attempting to obtain the right to make decisions concerning the use of such weapons.

These nice words of peace, security and understanding are not worth a penny. They are counterfeit!


The Communist Parody of the Hungarian Banknote

The Communists produced a perfect photographic reproduction of the Hungarian 100,000 B-pengo (billion pengo) brown note of 3 June 1946. The back of the note bears a pro-Communist message. Since a "five year plan" is mentioned and compared to 1946, we might assume that this note was disseminated about 1951.

The Communist Parody of the Hungarian Banknote Message Side

Hungary was independent for a brief time after the Second World War. In 1945 the Smallholders (non-Communists) won 245 out of 409 seats. For the next two years the Smallholders were under constant pressure, some members imprisoned, others forced to leave the country. In the elections of 1947 the Smallholders polled 14%, the Social Democrats 15%, and the Communists 21%. In the next two years the same tactics of disgrace and arrest were used against the Social Democrats. By 1949 the Communists were firmly in command.

Matyas Rakosi, secretary of the Worker's Party, described how the Communists had entered into coalitions in order to dispose of their partners. In a speech made on 29 February 1952, he called the technique of slicing off the other political parties one by one "salami tactics." The text of the propaganda bank note is as follows:

Remember this 'Money!'
This was left behind by Horthy fascism.

In 1946:1 month salary = 200 dkg pengo = 1 kg cherries.
The Communists created good money!

Average earnings:
In 1947:
A conductor 278 forint = 163.5 liter milk = 24 kg sugar
A driver 363 forint = 213.5 liter milk = 31 kg sugar
A skilled worker 466 forint = 274 liter milk - 40 kg sugar

A conductor 501 forint = 334 liter milk = 83.5 kg sugar
A driver 550 forint = 366 liter milk = 91.6 kg sugar
A skilled worker 602 forint = 401 liter milk = 100 kg sugar

The old owners of the BSzKRT deducted tax, old age pension and health insurance from your salary.
Today you don't have to pay for them!
The five-year economic plan has raised your living standard 150% in comparison to before the war.
Vote for the five-year economic plans and for peace!
Vote for the MDP, the leaders of the people's movement!

Some comments on the names and abbreviations used on the note: Admiral Miklos Horthy (1868-1946) was the wartime Regent of Hungary from 1920 to 1944.

The initials "MDP" represent the Hungarian Workers' Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja), the name of their Communist party between 1948 and 1956.

"BSzKRT" was the Budapest Street Car Corporation. This company had been privately owned before the war. It was nationalized by the government after the war and this leaflet is obviously meant to convey to the workers the great strides in salary and benefits that the Communist Party can provide for them.


The revolutionary propaganda notes of Iran are both political and religious. In October 1952, Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh declared that Britain was "an enemy," and cut all diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. In November and December 1952, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. The United States agreed. The United States and Great Britain wanted to replace him with someone seen as more strongly anti-Communist and a leader that would not nationalize the Iranian oil industry. They overthrew Mossadegh in 1953 as part of "Operation Ajax." Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran was put back in power and remained loyal to the West until his overthrow in 1979. Although the Shah was good for the West, his own people never forgave the United States or the Shah for overthrowing the legally elected Prime Minister. The results of that act are still seen today.

Revolutionary Iranian Banknote
The Shah's portrait obliterated at right, "Republic of Iran" Overprint at Left

During the Shah's reign, Iranian currency bore his picture. However, the new Supreme Leader of Iran after the fall of the Shah was the religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini. He enforced a more Muslim concept and portraits of the Shah on banknotes were forbidden. As a result, all the portraits of the Shah on Iranian banknotes were obliterated.

There are hundreds of such obliterations ranging from a simple ink blot to very fancy designs. The Standard Catalogue of Iranian Banknotes depicts 93 such notes, and there certainly are many more. I have 16 in my collection and they are just representative of the various types of overprint. At first, the moderate right wing parties replaced the Shah's watermark with that of a "Lion and Sun" which still symbolized the Iranian Nationalistic movement. The Shah's portrait was removed and replaced with the Imam Reza Mosque. The religious leaders then demanded that the "Lion and Sun" seal be covered with a black "Islamic Republic" seal. So, notes exist with the Shah blacked out, the "Lion and Sun" blacked out, or both.

Ayatollah Khomeini 10,000 Rial Fantasy Banknote

Banknotes also appeared in Iran that depicted Ayatollah Khomeini. Nobody is sure why they were prepared. It could have been pro-Royal forces who wanted to insult Khomeini by placing his face as an idol on a banknote. It could have been pro-Khomeini forces that wanted to show their support for the holy man. Or, it could have been criminals who attempted to pass the banknotes off as new Iranian currency.

There are two such unofficial Iranian revolutionary currency-like propaganda notes, a brownish-purple 5000 rials, and a multicolored 10,000 rials. Both depict Khomeini on front and are entitled "Bank Markazi Iran" on back. Supplies of the notes were allegedly destroyed as the new Islamic Republic currency appeared.

The Reza Pahlavi Propaganda Banknote

Another interesting political note for Iran was produced by monarchists who desired the end of the revolution and the return of the royal family. This note is a 500 rials parody of the 200 rials and 500 rials Kingdom of Iran Bank Markazi Iran notes of 1974-1979, with the bust of Crown Prince Reza II replacing that of the Shah on the front. The designs of the front and back are basically that of the 500 rials note. However, the back has the stylized view of the Maidane Shahyad monument. Below the monument on the back is the English-language text "Supporters of the Continuation of Constitutional Monarchy for Iran." The parody is green on white paper. Two versions are known. The first is as discussed above. A second exists with "Brighton U.K." added as a third line of English-language text, and the text and image of Reza Pahlavi shown fuller and with better shading of the face.



The United States has produced more propaganda banknotes for Iraq than anywhere else in history. During Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991, 16 different propaganda dinar notes were dropped on the enemy. During Operation Iraqi Freedom There were no propaganda banknotes, but there was a leaflet coded CPA G0075 that depicted all the new Iraqi currency to help the people recognize counterfeits. It explained the features that the Iraqi people should look for to be assured that the currency was legitimate and genuine.

We will not depict the war notes above, but we can show one banknote that has been used more recently during the consolidation phase of the Iraq occupation. 3,000 copies of this U.S. leaflet, code number IZ-06-HB-5583 were disseminated in Fallujah and Ramadi as part of the anti-terrorist campaign. The text on the back is:

To report terrorist activities call:
Ubaydi 619-929; Karabalah 652-499; Husaybah 653-0777


The Sikhs have sought independence from India since 1947, claiming territory from the Jamna River on the east to the border with Pakistan on the west. Khalistan has been a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization since 1993; other members include Kurdistan, Tibet, Taiwan, and Nagaland.

To publicize their demand for independence, Dal Khalsa (Sikh Empire - named after the Sikh army that operated in 17th and 18th-century Punjab), a fringe movement of the Akali Dal, printed propaganda banknotes in 1980 for the Republic of Khalistan advocating the formation of an independent Sikh state in the Indian Punjab. Akali Dal, a collection of disparate Sikh factions desiring more autonomy for Sikhs in India, does not generally support the separatist Khalistan movement. Dal Khalsa has active branches in the West. Their constitution states in part that Dal Khalsa is a social-religious-political organization of the Sikh nation. The primary goal of the Dal Khalsa is the establishment of self-rule for Sikhs.

5 Dollar Bank of Khalistan Note

The 5 dollar Bank of Khalistan note depicts Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Dal Khalsa leader living in Britain on the front and the Golden Temple at Amritsar, spiritual center for the Sikhs on the back. The note was issued as a donation receipt by a group of Sikhs living in British Columbia, Canada.


10 Dollar Bank of Khalistan Note

The 10 dollar Bank of Khalistan depicts a vignette of the Amritsar Golden Temple on front and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on the back. The Amritsar Temple made headlines all over the world in June 1984 when Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered her armed forces to attack the temple under "Operation Blue Star" to drive out Sikh militants. The attack was a success, but a political disaster for Gandhi. It caused an uproar among Sikhs all over the world. The Sikhs were among the most loyal members of the Indian Army and Gandhi used them as her personal bodyguard. After the desecration of the shrine her Sikhs took the ultimate revenge, assassinating the prime minister. The note was issued as a donation receipt by a group of Sikhs living in British Columbia, Canada.

50 Dollar Bank of Khalistan Note

There is also a 50 dollar Bank of Khalistan red note, depicting Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on front. The back features the Sri Takhat Sahib (Throne of the Immortal) at left and General Shubeg Singe on back right (he trained Sikh militants and was killed in Operation Blue Star). This seems to be the rarest of all the issues, only one known at present. It was apparently printed much later than the first two notes, and probably not in Canada.

100 Dollar Bank of Khalistan Note

A Green Khalistan $100 dollar note appeared on the market in 2008. It is believed to have been printed in Germany. The front left depicts the Akal Takht (The Seat of the Timeless One) in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab. The front right depicts Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. He supported the proposed Sikhism-based theocratic state of Khalistan. Along with a group of activists he occupied the Akal Takht complex in the Golden Temple of Amritsar and was martyred by the Indian Army during their counter attack (Operation Blue Star) on 6 June 1984. Text at the lower center of the note is:

Chairman, Dal Khalsa International

Republic of Khalistan

The back of the note depicts a Sikh symbol at the left. The back right depicts Sirdar Kapur Singh (1909-1986), a Former Member of the Indian Parliament, intellectual and author of articles on the religious-cultural historical aspects of Sikh culture. The text at the bottom of the note is

Bank of Khalistan

The owner of one such note told me that several years ago a number of Sikhs appeared in Lahore, Pakistan at a time that the Khalistan movement was in the news. They distributed the banknotes in the markets and public places more as a political leaflet than a banknote or receipt for donation.

Most were thrown away by the local people but a few were saved by collectors. Most of the text on the first series of notes printed in Canada is in English, with some parallel notations in French and Hindi. The French notations were removed in the later notes. Data on the 50 dollar banknote is courtesy of Anil R. Bohora, "Banknotes of Khalistan - Scrip of the Indian Punjab Independence Movement,"IBNS Journal,Vol. 50, No. 1, 2011.


Slobodan Milosevic

In 1989, a nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. He had previously served as the leader of Belgrade Communist Party and the Serbian Communist Party. He decided upon the ethnic cleansing of his country and the creation of a Greater Serbia. He abolished Kosovo's autonomy. There were daily news reports of murders, rapes, mass killings and other atrocities carried out by the Serbs as Milosevic drove the minorities from their lands and homes, "purifying" Serbia.

Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from the Yugoslav Federated Republic. In Croatia, ethnic Serbs and Croats begin a long, bloody conflict. The West recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state. The UN imposed sanctions on Yugoslavia. There were new reports of "ethnic cleansing," a policy of slaughtering Muslim inhabitants of towns or driving them away in order to create an ethnically pure region. There were reports of concentration camps and mass rapes.

Milosevic's actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to supply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine. The U.N. established "no-fly" zones over Bosnia. The United States mediated an agreement between the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats, and the Government of Croatia to form a federation of Bosnians and Croats. This temporarily ended the fighting.

In early 1999, the Serbs again seemed intent on purifying their lands of all foreign ethnic groups. Television reports told of thousands of ethnic Albanians persecuted, raped, or murdered. This time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took action. NATO demanded full compliance with UN Resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998. The resolution called for all parties to cease hostilities.

At a meeting held 15 March 1999, the Kosovar separatists agreed to a cease-fire, but the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic refused. NATO warned that refusal to cease hostilities against the Kosovar civilians would lead directly to military force. After a week of Serbian refusals, the 19-member organization unanimously agreed to initiate air strikes. The first occurred at 1400 on 24 March 1999. NATO aircraft pounded military and political targets within Serbia as part of "Operation Allied Force." Fighter aircraft later attacked Serb military forces in Kosovo.

Kosovo Liberation Army 25 Dinare Propaganda Banknote

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) overprinted National Bank of Macedonia notes of 1992. The overprints are in black. On the front, at left top is "Pristina, 1 April 1999"; at left center is the two-headed eagle of the Kosovo coat of arms; at right top is "The Provisional Bank of the Republic of Kosovo"; and at right bottom is the denomination and "DINARË." The banknotes were prepared by the KLA as propaganda for Kosovo's independence. The notes exist in six denominations; 10,25, 50, 100, 500 and 100 dinare.

Reward for Justice Banknote

At the end of the war a great number of Serbian military leaders escaped punishment. The United States wanted to place them on trial for their actions and thus produced a number of reward leaflets in the form of banknotes. The first is in

United States reward leaflet for Radovan Karadzic, in the form of a parody of the Bosnia 50 Federal Convertible Maraka note of 1998. The front of the note is replaced by the reward notice, which shows a photograph of Radovan Karadzic at left, along with Bosnian text that says in part:

Program Rewards for Justice offers up to $5,000,000.

Program Rewards for Justice offers up to five million dollars for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons who have been accused by the International Tribunal for War Crimes in The Hague for violation of international law, including Radovan Karadzic.

If you possess any information, we ask that you please call Rewards for Justice on the telephone numbers or on the email address shown below. All your connections will be treated as confidential... / CALL NOW!

The text is printed on a black background in orange and white. The email address is in English. The back of the leaflet is a faithful reproduction of the back of the genuine Bosnian note. Karadzic was indicted for genocide during the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Reward for Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic

The United States also produced a series of wanted leaflets in the form of an enlarged replica of a $50 United States Federal Reserve Note, Series 1996 with the right half overlain with a poster. Back has the address of "REWARDS FOR JUSTICE" in English, and at lower right a seal of the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. The text offers up to $5 million for information leading to the apprehension of the individuals. The leaflets are designed so that, when folded twice vertically, the front and back of the packet show the left half of the enlarged $50 note.

The above reward for Balkan war criminals Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic was printed in three languages; English, Serbo-Croatian and Cyrillic.

Other banknote leaflets in the same $50 format offer rewards for; Abdelmajid Dahoumane, an Algerian national indicted for international terrorism and placing a bomb near a terminal in the state of Washington in December 1999, Lya Jamel, indicted for bombing ALAS Chiricanas flight 901 on 19 July 1994, and a reward for terrorists who committed or aided in the attack on the USS Cole in the harbor of Aden on 12 October 2000. 

Free Trade Banknote Leaflet for Bosnia

There is one more banknote leaflet that probably should be depicted in this section that mentions Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia. Because of the ethnic hatred among the various people of the old Yugoslavia, free trade and commerce became a problem that economically hurt everyone. As a result, the United States Army produced a propaganda leaflet for Bosnia, modeled on the Yugoslavia 20 Novih Dinara note of 1994, showing the poet Djuro Jaksic (1832-1878) at left on the front.

In the leaflet, there is an appeal in behalf of free markets covering the right portion of the front of the note:

In Business... More customers equal more sales for suppliers and more competition equals lower cost for consumers. How can you influence the market? Encourage Freedom of Movement. It makes economic sense.

The back of the leaflet shows a map of Bosnia overlain with a picture of a child driving a small pedal car, with the text:

Freedom of Movement - everyone wins.

These notes were produced by the United States Army, and distributed to U.S. troops in Bosnia for dissemination.


The Solidarity Movement

I am not sure that we should add Solidarity banknotes to this article because there is some question as to whether or not they fall into the Cold War category. Yet, it was a national movement to overthrow the Communist rule of Poland so I think we can make a case for the addition.

Between 1981 and 1989, the Polish Solidarity Union issued numerous fund-raising stamp-like labels and leaflets in the form of Polish or foreign banknotes. The leaflets were meant to be sold as donations to the Solidarity underground movement, mostly to finance underground printers. These leaflets were illegal in Poland during the communist regime. In June 1989, in the first legal election in Poland in modern times, Solidarity came to power.

Anatol Kobylinski describes the movement in Six Years of the Underground Post in Poland:

Martial law was declared in Poland on 13 December 1981. A direct consequence was the de-legalization by the authorities of the independent self-governing Trade Union Solidarnosc. However, contrary to the government's intentions, this mass movement which had been born during the heroic strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk in 1980, was not crushed. In fact, this declaration of war by a military junta against the people only forced Solidarnosc, in common with other opposition groups, to work underground.

New structures were rapidly set up and returned to visibility through a network of clandestine publications, both books and periodicals.

The biggest problem facing the author is what to depict. I have eight computer pages single-spaced of Solidarity banknotes, the total number being 69 items. Some Polish literature states that there could be as many as 100 of the banknotes. In addition, Solidarity propaganda overprints were placed on at least 43 genuine banknotes.

The Genuine 200 Zlotych Polish Banknote

Solidarity 200 Zlotych Propaganda Banknote

Lech Walesa was the spokesman for Solidarity and appeared on many of the leaflet banknotes. In the Solidarity 200 zlotych Narodowy Bank Polski Propaganda Banknote he is depicted in place of Polish revolutionary, nationalist, and General, Jarosław Dabrowski.

Genuine Banknote Overprinted "Overcome your fear, do not vote."

Genuine Banknote Overprinted "Socialism to the Gas Chamber."

Some of the propaganda slogans on the genuine banknotes are; "Boycott is victory," "Strength by unity," "Overcome your fear, do not vote," and "Solidarity


In 1960, the Somali Democratic Republic was formed through merger of the British colony of British Somaliland and the Italian-administered UN trust territory of Italian Somaliland. The republic's seat of government is its principal city, Mogadishu, which lies on the coast in the southern part of the country. From the start, the new country was plagued by regional clan-based rivalries. As early as 1961, citizens of northern Somalia were in revolt against the newly formed republic, and were seeking an end to southern domination of the north.

In 1969 Major General Mohamed Siad Barre took control in a bloodless coup and declared a Marxist state with close ties to the USSR. With some 45 competing clan-based groups, Somalia's political situation became extremely fluid and complex. The Somali National Movement (SNM), the most influential of many factional groups, was based in London for several years, and then relocated to Ethiopia in 1982. In 1988 the SNM captured and held several cities in the northwest. In 1990, a peaceful anti-government movement begun by the United Somali Congress erupted into a bloody civil war that resulted in the ouster of President Barre in early 1991.

During the 1990's, six major factions, sometimes in fluid and temporary alliances, controlled most of Somalia: The SNM, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front, the Aideed faction of the United Somali Congress (leader until his death in August 1996: General Mohammed Farah Aideed), the Ali Mahdi faction of the United Somali Congress (later the Somali Salvation Alliance; leader, Ali Mahdi Muhammad), the Somali National Front, and the Somali Patriotic Movement. Following the United Nations withdrawal, in June 1995, Aideed, who controlled the southern half of Mogadishu, declared himself president of Somalia.

The N20 Shilin Mahdi Faction Banknote

The Mahdi faction produced their own banknotes that appear quite similar to those of the official Central Bank of Somalia shilin currency, but are denominated in "N-shilin" (North shillings). Naturally enough, Aideed did not recognize these notes. The notes are multicolored, and bear the notation "Muqdisho 1991" at the bottom front. Two banknotes are known from the Mahdi faction, a N20 shilin with the front showing a man leading a camel and the back showing a harvest scene with five female workers and a N50 shilin note with the front showing a boy at a loom and the back depicting banana trees and a young person leading a donkey bearing three children.

The Republic of Somaliland 50 Shillings Banknote

In the south of Somalia the Republic of Somaliland produced its own Baanka Somaliland currency banknotes. They were printed in Britain for the Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal faction, politically close to the United Somali Congress and warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. All are denominated in Somaliland shillings, and are known in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 shillings.


The Genuine Russian 25 Ruble Banknote

The DDR 20 mark banknote was not the only one parodied by the NTS. They also prepared an imitation of the Russian 25 Ruble note of 1947. We should mention here that Russian propaganda leaflet messages tend to be very long and tedious. The Russian never learned that sometimes less is more. The NTS leaflets followed that same formula and for the most part they are long, boring, and seldom display images or colors.

The NTS 25 Ruble Propaganda Banknote

The 25 ruble parody was photographically reproduced and thus is an excellent match. The colors are a duller green and lack the brightness and crispness of the genuine. Also, the printing is somewhat fuzzy and does not have the sharpness of the original note.

There is only one type of 25 Ruble propaganda banknote known and this bears the title in Russian on the back "Soldier! Sergeant! Officer! Brothers and Comrades!" The message is extremely long. As we mentioned above, the Soviet propagandists never learned the technique of short hard-hitting messages to capture the imagination of the reader. Most NTS literature reads like Russian tragedy. Some of the highlights of the text are:

You have taken this paper into your hand. No, this is not money but the word of truth. Is it not more valuable than money? What value is the ruble in a country where the Kremlin bloodsuckers have turned it into the poorest place on earth? There are not another people in the West that lives any poorer than we do. What does it mean? The word of truth is valuable. And here it is: the fateful and revolutionary hour is approaching. The great enemy of all times and people - Stalin - is ready to plunge you and the country into a carnage of a new and terrible war, a war which no one in the world wants, except he, Stalin. This hunk of humanity in the form of a Generalissimo is mad and is looking insatiably for power at any price, including your blood.

The NTS 25 Ruble Propaganda Banknote Message Side

The long message goes on to ask that groups be formed, defection be considered, the pitchfork symbol and the initials "NTS" be painted on walls and finally ends with the statement:

For a free revolution! For an honest government on our own land! For a free Russia! Death to all tyrants! To all workers freedom! NTS.

The Genuine Russian 100 Ruble Banknote

The NTS also produced propaganda parodies of the Russian 100 Ruble note of 1947. There are at least four types prepared from 1953 to 1957. The titles of the four notes are: Drouzia! Moriaki! (Friends! Sailors!), K Naseleniov Strany (To the Citizens of the Land), Brat! Droug! (Brother! Friend!) and Tovarisch (Comrade).

Inspecting the propaganda banknotes, we find once again that they closely match the genuine currency, with only the dullness of the colors and the lack in sharpness of the image to point them out. The messages are extremely long and the logic convoluted. If anything, these banknotes leaflets are longer and duller than the 25 ruble leaflets.

Once again I will translate some selected text that gives a general impression of the content of the messages.

The NTS 100 Ruble Propaganda Banknote

Note that this banknote has been stamped “Specimen” in red by the printer. The NTS agents can now inspect it and decide if the quality is good enough to send into the Soviet Union.

From the 100 Ruble note entitled "To the citizens of the Land," we translate the first paragraph:

There was never a single revolution in the world that promised so much and gave so little to the people as the October Revolution. Forty years of one's lifetime is a long enough period. During this period we were able to learn a lot about the workings of the Communist Regime, allowing for mistakes ascribed to lack of experience and postwar destructions. The Party leaders refer to the present day living as the highest form of democracy. But we the people have our own views about the October Revolution. For forty years rivers of blood were flowing, millions of lives torn away and destroyed. The Kronstat uprising, the opposition of the Kolchoz idea, the uprising in the camps Varkutee, Norelska, Karagandee in 1953-55, the opposition of our intelligentsia to the political idea of suppression, the deep dissatisfaction of workers of low income, the dissatisfaction of the youth, all of this sufficiently proves the lack of trust that exists in all categories of society toward Communism.

The NTS 100 Ruble Propaganda Banknote Message Side

It is interesting that although the note has "1954" written on it by the NTS agent who distributed it, the mention of "forty years" and the fact that the revolt in Karagandee occurred as late as 1955 indicates that this note was probably produced about 1957.

The message on the note entitled "Comrade" is interesting because it allows us to accurately date the time of printing. One line of text states:

Enough! 36 years is long enough to convince one that the path of the party and the government is the path toward ruin and catastrophe!

Since we know that the Russian Revolution occurred in 1917, we can add the 36 years and find that the message was written in 1953. The message ends with:

The NTS summons you to join the struggle! Follow the instructions of the revolutionary staff NTS, F-5303.

We surmise that the "5303" pins the date down to March of 1953.


Another NTS 100 Ruble Propaganda Banknote Message Side

Friends! Sailors!

The messages on the other 100 Ruble notes are similar in tone and need not be translated in length. We should mention that the date "1953" does appear on the leaflet "Brother! Friend!" The leaflet "Friends! Sailors!" uses the term "36 years" in two paragraphs so it was probably also produced in 1953, though the specimen we show has been marked 1954.

Were there any other NTS propaganda currency leaflets? None have ever come to light or been offered at auction, but there are literary accounts of an additional piece in the Eastern European numismatic press. In the 1981 Yearbook of the Paper Money and Securities Study Circle, there is an article entitled "Paper Money as a Paper Weapon of the Counter-Revolution." This article, written in the German Democratic Republic by Dr. Julius Mader, mentions an alleged NTS production of a Russian 10 Ruble propaganda note. Dr. Mader says that a balloon with a defective release mechanism actually floated all the way to the outskirts of Moscow. This balloon is said to have been loaded with 300 Kilograms of 10 Ruble notes. However, Mader does not mention the NTS 100 Ruble propaganda banknote in any of his further comments.

How did the Communists react to all of the NTS propaganda? They were not happy about it. In Louis Hagen's The Secret War For Europe, Stein and Day, NY, 1969, some of the Russian reactions are detailed:

In April 1954 the Berlin NTS leader Dr. Alexander Trushnovich was kidnapped. Nine days later an attempt was made to assassinate another NTS leader Georgi Okolovich. On June 20th of the same year, Valeri Tremmel, an Austrian NTS leader was drugged and kidnapped.

The book goes on to mention dozens of such cases. Open season was declared on the entire hierarchy of the NTS. The Russians were not amused!

Did any other anti-Communist groups use money as a form of propaganda? The Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a group formed in the Ukraine in 1943 and other liberation movements such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) produced a number of currency-like pieces between the years 1946 and 1949. However, these have been called "bons" in the past and it is probable that they were meant to be used as receipts for contributions rather than currency. Some are thought to have been used as a medium of exchange, but since the notes were not actually intended to be currency I believe we can omit them from this article.


In February of 2014, Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, which could be considered the start of the Russian invasion, marking the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War. On 24 February 2022, the Russians officially invaded all the Ukraine with somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 troops, these troops were not well-trained, believed they were playing war games and certainly were not ready for war. Putin not only lied to the world press, but he also lied to his own troops. Many were shocked to find themselves in battle.

Some Russians who either wanted freedom for their country or felt a need to protect Ukraine founded a type of foreign legion called the Russian Legion of Freedom. They used the symbol “L” just as Winston Churchill used the symbol “V” for victory in World War Two. The “L” seems to stand for both “Liberty” and “Legion.” The symbol is found on various objects such as leaflets, posters, signs, graffiti, and banknotes. The Russian Legion of Freedom is an all-Russian regiment within the Ukraine Army. It gets its members from volunteers, deserters from the Russian Army, and prisoners of war captured by the Ukraine. The soldiers get more pay than the Russians, have better supplies and their men have more time off when they can rest.


The Bank of Russia issued Russian Ruble banknotes in 10 different denominations, including this 200 Russian Rubles banknote in circulation since 10 December 2017. The top left corner of the front of the note bears the coat of arms of the Russian Federation. It is part of the current Russian Ruble banknotes series and still in circulation. This 200 Russian Rubles banknote features the Sunken Ships Monument in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on the front.  Notice that some Legion member has written on the note in their flag colors of blue and white, “Legion” and “Liberty.” Another symbol is at their left, and it could be the letter “V” for victory. Other documents bear such statements as:

The soldiers of the Freedom of Russia Legion honor the memory of the heroes who died for Freedom and Independence of their Homeland during the Great Patriotic War. They fight for Ukraine. Our cause is right! Putin will be destroyed! Victory will be ours! "L" For Russia! For Freedom!


There have been numerous propaganda banknotes attacking the United States from Soviet-bloc nations, Independent communist nations and Third World Countries. I will just depict a few of the more interesting ones in this section.

The Chinese Propaganda $50 U.S. Banknote

The Chinese Communists prepared a banknote for use against the United States. It is a propaganda parody of United States $50 Federal Reserve Note of 1963, with overprints in Chinese on front and back. The text on the front is:

The great inflationary American dollar

The Chinese Propaganda $50 U.S. Banknote message side

The message on the back is:

Support the Black American's struggle. Support the people of Vietnam against the Americans in their struggle to free their country.

Crush the American Imperialists in their exploitation of Hong Kong as a center for their espionage operation.

Crush the American Empire and its principles. Long live our great leader Mao Tse-tung.

Testing the Atomic Bomb

I am going to be honest here and admit that the above note is not really propaganda in the true sense of the word. However, the atomic bomb was the most powerful weapon ever conceived by man in the late 1940s and America was willing to remind the world that it was the only nation with that bomb. It was the "Big Stick" and America was willing to wave it. The United States did countless tests of its super weapon, and in one operation the units involved prepared souvenir currency to commemorate their effort.

Between 1946 and 1958, twenty-three nuclear devices were detonated at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The March 1954 detonation was the first test of the hydrogen bomb. The program was named Operation Crossroads. The support fleet consisted of more than 150 ships that supported the 42,000 men of Joint Task Force One. Several different souvenir "short snorters" were printed in conjunction with Operation Crossroads.

The note above has different symbols and numbers that all represent part of Operation Crossroads. For instance, the atomic bomb blast is depicted in the center, while "Joint Task Force One" is at the top. At the left are "58" and "509." The 58th Wing Photo Unit supported all organizations during the tests. The 509th Composite Group dropped the bomb on the ships moored in Bikini Atoll. The back of the note has "Task Group One.Five," the Army Air Group that comprised of all Army Air Force Units assigned to the Crossroads mission. The back depicts a B-29 and the name of the islands "Bikini" and "Kwajalein." A second note from this series depicts a ship on the front and the back and the text "USA and USN Atomic Short Snorter."

Normally, a short snorter is a banknote that had been autographed, and as the service member moved to a new location he attached more banknotes that were also signed by his new unit members. Sometimes a short snorter roll can be several feet long. It was originally thought that these Bikini banknotes were just souvenirs of the operation, but one naval veteran has stated that the short snorter notes were good for any drink in local bars whenever you could get someone to sign his name on it.


The City of Hong Kong (copyright)

Although its ownership has now reverted to the People's Republic of China, during the Cold War years the city of Hong Kong was a British Crown Colony. As might be expected, this infuriated the Communists and they regularly prepared and disseminated propaganda against their British overlords.

The Communists also produced parodies in the form of crude forgeries of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation banknotes printed with the inclusion of additional propaganda front and back having the appearance of overprints. Factory workers' strike that lasted close to six months in 1967 and currency devaluation on 18 November gave the communists a golden opportunity for propaganda. The British had devalued their pound, and the Hong Kong government devalued its currency to keep the same exchange rate. The parodies appeared about 1 December 1967, and were quickly suppressed by the Hong Kong government.

The Communist $10 Propaganda Banknote

One of the forgeries is of the 10 dollar note of 1966, in pale green with "overprints" in red. The front shows a caricature of a rapacious John Bull and the text in Chinese:

He is so greedy as to swallow money - Devaluation

Chinese is an interesting language and a second translator came up with a slightly more interesting sentence. I leave it to the reader to select the one he prefers:

White skin pig eats money - Devaluation

The Communist $10 Propaganda Banknote Message Side

The back has a long propaganda statement in Chinese explaining that $10 is now worth $9, and attacking British imperialism. Some of the text is:

British Imperialism has devalued the Hong Kong dollar in order to satisfy a small section of the British Finance Union and thus transferred their losses in their devaluation of the British pound on the four million Chinese brothers in Hong Kong and made every one of our fellow countrymen suffer great disasters. Due to the devaluation, a ten dollar banknote is now worth only nine dollars and change when compared to before. This results in a sudden rise in prices and makes the great mass of people suffer severe hardships. This sort of banditry is forced on us by the Fascist Gang of British in Hong Kong...

The Communist $100 Propaganda Note

The Communists also forged the 100 dollar note of 1966, in rose red with overprints in black. The Front shows a caricature of a bandit with a sack labeled "Open Banditry", and Chinese characters at the center meaning "Worth only $94.30 after Devaluation."

The Communist $100 Propaganda Note Message Side

Once again the back has a long statement in Chinese attacking devaluation and British imperialism and stating that the $100 bill is now worth $94.30. Some f the text is:

The British in Hong Kong are transferring their motherland's losses on to our Chinese brothers in Hong Kong by devaluating the Hong Kong dollar. This a display of the savage Fascist faces of the British in Hong Kong. Devaluation results in a sudden rise in prices, industrial deterioration and the workers losing their jobs. Who brings these losses? Who gives us these calamities? The British in Hong Kong...

In addition, there was also a Communist Chinese overprint on a 10 dollar Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation note that were disseminated on the day of the devaluation, 18 November, and said in the blank tablet at the left of the back:

You should realize that Hong Kong was occupied by force with opium

The overprint refers to the Opium War of 1842, as well as to negotiations for the British to leave Hong Kong in 1997. These overprinted notes appeared on 18 November 1967, the day of the Hong Kong dollar devaluation.


On 4 January 1948, Burma gained independence as the Union of Burma. One of the main leaders of the independence movement was General Bogyoke Aung San, founder of the modern Burmese army, who was assassinated in 1947. Failure of promises to create autonomous regions for ethnic minorities has led to armed insurrections since 1948. General U Ne Win seized power in a military coup in 1962 and established a one-party socialist state under the Burmese Socialist Program Party. On 27 May 1975, five ethnic organizations -- the Karen National Union, the Karenni (Kayah) National Progressive Party, the New Mon State Party, the Shan State Progress Party, and the Arakan Liberation Party -- joined to form the Federal Democratic National Front, also known as the National Democratic Front (NDF). Ne Win ruled until July 1988, when he resigned in the face of mounting popular unrest. After a short-lived series of successor governments, the Burmese military took control in September 1988 amid continued demonstrations. In 1989 the country's name was changed to the Union of Myanmar. On 27 May 1990, Burma's first multiparty free election in three decades was won decisively by the opposition National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of 1940's independence hero Aung San. This election was nullified by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), and National League for Democracy leaders were placed under house arrest. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize. Myanmar is universally despised to the extent that in 2008 John Rambo took on the Burmese Army in the fourth movie in the series.

In 2015, she led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory in Myanmar's first openly contested election in 25 years. But she was deposed by a coup in 2021 when the military took control and arrested her and the political leadership around her. In 2020, her NLD once again won a landslide majority, getting even more votes than in the 2015 vote. The still powerful military disputed the results, claiming election fraud. On the day parliament was to a sit for the first time, the military arrested Suu Kyi along with many other political leaders. It then declared a state of emergency, handing power to the military for a full year. In December 2021, Suu Kyi was found guilty of inciting dissent and breaking Covid rules in the first of a series of verdicts that could see her jailed for life. UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet called it a “sham trial” that would only “deepen rejection of the coup.”

The "Dear Comrades" Propaganda Banknote

The National Democratic Front prepared overprints on Union of Burma Bank currency of 1972-1986. The overprints were probably applied during the period 1986-1988. There are four overprints known at present. The 7-line overprint on a 25 kyats note of 1972 translates to:

Do you only receive the paper money that has no use? U Ne Win keeps his money in Switzerland. His officers are also exchanging money. Only you, farmers and workers, suffer greatly because of this useless paper money. Support the National Democratic Front. It is a just government for all.

25 Kvats overprinted note

The 9-line overprint on a 25 kyats note translates to:

Dear Comrades,

Did you, your friends, and relatives lose paper money when they were devalued? While you are fighting amidst life-threatening situations in the jungle, far from your loved ones and relatives, your senior officers in Rangoon are secretly exchanging their money, while you are left with this worthless paper money. The National Democratic Front will not sacrifice the lives of its soldiers to wage unnecessary war.

35 Kvats overprinted note

The 6-line overprint on a 35 kyats note of 1986 translates to:

Do you think that General Aung San would ever have made you carry this worthless piece of paper? Never! Both he and all of you have been sold for this. The Burmese Socialist Program Party is full of lies and corruption, and its policy is designed for U Ne Win and senior military officers to become rich while the rest of the people are in poverty.

75 Kvats overprinted note

The final 9-line overprint on a 75 kyats note of 1985 translates to:

What is the use of these banknotes? They are useless! Like U Ne Win and his accomplices, who print the money.

These banknotes have been circulated for your time, rice, and precious things. Then, the banknotes are made useless. Useless things are given to you for your precious things.

The National Democratic Front wants the money which has both value and stability.

Author's Note: After almost two decades of house arrest and constant harassment by the Government of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi was apparently elected to Parliament in the first free election held in Myanmar since 1990. In April 2012, her National League for Democracy won over 40 of 45 contested seats in the 664-seat Parliament. Crippling economic sanctions by Western Nations forced the Myanmar Government to hold relatively free elections.


After the end of the Korean War in 1953, the citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had no access to information from the West. Typical newscasts heard daily on their government radio stated that the Korean War had been forced upon the peace-loving North. Their brothers in the South were living in poverty, starvation, and enslavement by foreign imperialists.

In 1963, the 7th Psychological Operations Group (Korea Detachment) was given the task of disseminating western news and propaganda into North Korea. The program was called Operation Jilli. Jilli is a Korean word meaning truth. The plan called for American aircraft to fly along the southern edge of the demilitarized zone or well out over the open sea and drop millions of leaflets that would be carried by wind currents over North Korea. The content of the program was initially designed to present the Republic of Korea in a favorable light through information concerning economic, social and political progress and prosperity.

The first Jilli mission was flown on 30 June 1964. C-47 aircraft flying at altitudes up to 15,000 feet dropped over 19 million leaflets. Each C-47 mission carried 3,000 pounds of leaflets. Larger C-130 cargo aircraft were added to the program in 1965, resulting in 98 million leaflets being disseminated from 25,000 feet. Each C-130 carried 20,000 pounds of leaflets with quantities ranging from ten to sixteen to twenty million leaflets depending on leaflet size(s) used. In 1966, 183 million leaflets were dropped. The operation continued for several more years but no further statistics are available.

One agent told me that he could literally drop his leaflets on Kim Il Sung's doorstep from 200 miles away. Although hundreds of different leaflets were developed, for the purposes of this article we will just discuss those that were made to look like a North Korean Central Bank 1 won note of 1959 with the back bearing a safe conduct pass message. The banknote leaflet was coordinated through various agencies in Korea and printed by the 7th PSYOP Group (Japan Detachment). The Safe Conduct Pass consisted of a faithful reproduction of a North Korean one won note. The reverse consisted of the one won note border, the Republic of Korea National Flag in full color, a message indicating it was a Safe Conduct Pass, and the signature of the Chairman of the Joint Military Staff, Republic of Korea Armed Forces.

The genuine 1 won banknote

The idea for using a North Korean one won note was to enable the target audience to "hide" the bill by placing it in with other bills. This would prevent detection through any casual search, but not one where it was the item of the search.

The banknote leaflet is known in three versions. Two are almost identical with the only change being the signature of the Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republic of Korea. The third note has not been disseminated. It is apparently stored in various secret locations until such time as the renewal of hostilities on the Korean peninsula occurs once again.

The 7th PSYOP Group 1 Won Banknote

In all three cases, the front of the leaflet is an excellent reproduction of the North Korean banknote, with the serial number 276320. The first note is known to be coded 41, although the number does not appear on the leaflet. It was produced sometime before 19 August 1967. It was targeted at General population of North Korea. The message on the back is:


To soldiers of the People's Army. This Republic of Korea safe conduct certificate (actually certificate of security) provides you with an opportunity for a new life. Bear in mind that your present toil will never change until the Communist regime collapses. Why should you give up your happiness? Please cross over to the South without hesitation. When you come to South Korea, this certificate will guarantee your personal safety when shown to any Republic of Korea or United Nations Command serviceman. We will warmly welcome you. You will be rewarded with money, employment, housing and freedom. Your safety is guaranteed with or without this leaflet. (Signed) KIM Yong Bae, General, Republic of Korea Army, Chief of Staff.


The 7th PSYOP Group 1 Won Banknote Message Side

The second version of this same banknote leaflet is coded S-10-68. Declassified documents indicate that this leaflet was prepared on 2 July 1968 for dissemination in October of that year. It is identical except for the signature of the new Chief of Staff, Kim Kae Won.

The 7th PSYOP Group 1 Won Banknote in Storage

The third version of the banknote is identical on the front. On the back, Text in Korean, English and Chinese. The English language text is:

Headquarters United Nations Command.

Attention UNC Forces: This certificate guarantees good treatment to any Chinese or North Korean soldier desiring to cease fighting. Take this man to your nearest officer and treat him as an honorable prisoner of war.


This leaflet is designed to be used in case of a future war. It might be dropped as is, or the signature of a commanding officer could be added at a later date.

Note that although we do not know if the Chinese will be involved in this future war, we name them, and we name them before the North Koreans. Note also that we use the WWII wording cease fighting rather than surrender.

What was the result of these leaflets? Three North Korean defectors were interviewed about the leaflets and some of their comments follow:

The facsimile of North Korean paper-money on the safe conduct pass was so hard to distinguish from real money that it was occasionally used to purchase goods at stores.

I saw the one won note safe conduct certificate at the Pantu Museum in Kaesong. I notice that some of the other visitors around me in the museum were also staring at it for some time, amazed at the nearly complete similarity between the one-won note on the leaflet and the real North Korean one-won note.

It was said that people who reported these leaflets were rewarded with tobacco. About two days later, I heard that 30 of the leaflets were found in a Kaesong department store at the end of the day when the cashier totaled the day's receipts. A government agent passed the leaflets to purchase cosmetics at the Cooperative Farm store to see if the clerk would check the currency. When the sales girl took the currency without checking it closely, the Social Safety agent reprimanded her severely.

A warning on the bulletin board of the North Korean Social Safety Detachment:

South Korea has spread leaflets similar to North Korean money. As a result, there is a possibility of economic disorder. Those having leaflets in their possession are warned to report them without delay. Persons submitting leaflets will be rewarded to the value of the money leaflets.

The curious thing about this operation is that none of the Americans who designed the leaflet realized the value of a 1 won note in North Korea. It seemed such a petty sum. The banknote vignette was used simply because it would catch the eye and was sure to be picked up by anyone who saw it on the ground. LTC David G. Underhill (Ret.) told me later that he was against the printing of the banknote leaflet. He said:

First, the one won note represented about l and l/3 months pay for the North Korean Army private. If he was found to be carrying one won, it would be cause for suspicion. The first message reaching the target audience would be one of disappointment. Half the leaflets could be expected to land with the money side up. The "finder" would think he had one won, only to be disappointed when he discovered the ROK flag on the other side.


Several propaganda leaflets in the form of currency fall into a "Gray" area. For instance, there was revolutionary warfare in the Philippine Islands that went on for decades. There were first independence movements against Spain, and after the United States defeated Spain it found itself in a battle against the Moros from 1899 until the capture of guerrilla leader Emilio Aguinaldo in March 1901. There have been numerous uprisings by Muslim separatists in Mindanao and Sulu. More recently we have seen the rise of a Communist movement.

The HUKs (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon - People's Liberation Army against the Japanese) was formed in March 1942 as a movement under the leadership of Luis Taruc on Central Luzon to fight Japanese troops then occupying the Philippine Islands. After the defeat of the Japanese, most of the other independence groups integrated into the new government. The HUKs, the major Communist movement among the armed bands went underground with the intention of overthrowing the legitimate government by force. They were eventually defeated but never stopped their guerrilla attacks. Encouraged by the Communist movements in China and North Korea, about 1950 they renamed themselves (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan - The People's Army of Liberation).

The 2 Peso HUK Safe Conduct Banknote Front

About 1951, the Philippine government offered amnesty to those Communist guerrillas who would lay down their arms. In order to motivate surrender among the guerrilla forces, they produced a safe conduct pass for Communist HUK guerrillas modeled after Philippines 2 pesos note of 1949-66, with a propaganda message in English. I wrote about this in "Propaganda Currency," Coins, November 1970, and "The 'Small' Wars," IBNS Journal, Volume 25, Number 2 (June 1986).

The front of the leaflet has a vignette of the great Filipino patriot Jose Rizal at upper left and typewritten text giving instructions to surrendering HUK guerillas. The text on the front is:


This certifies that I desire to return to the ways of peace and security under the Republic of the Philippines.

________ (Signature of HMB)

NOTE: Any HMB voluntarily presenting this certificate to any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is guaranteed fair treatment and protection."

The 2 Peso HUK Safe Conduct Banknote Back

The text on the back is:


To AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] Troops in the IMA [First Military Area]:

Any HMB voluntarily presenting this SAFE CONDUCT pass should be accorded the fairest possible treatment and accompanied to the nearest BCD [Battalion Combat Team] or PC [Philippine Constabulary] headquarters for proper disposition.

Brig. Gen AFP
Area Commander

Ukraine – Russia - The Special Military Operation

Common sense would indicate that when Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2014, and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and in April of that same year, took control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, it was war. But the world mostly ignored it. On 24 February 2022, the Russians officially invaded all the Ukraine with somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 troops. Putin said it was not a war, it was a “Special Military Operation.” Since it is not a war, I think we can show the propaganda currency of that operation in this article.

Ukraine 1000 Hryvnias Banknote

On 23 March 2023, the Russians apparently dropped parody National Bank of Ukraine 1000 Hryvnias banknotes with a surrender appeal over Ukraine military forces. The German dropped millions of Russian propaganda banknotes with surrender messages on the Russian in WWII. Perhaps the Russians liked the idea. My translator told me:

All I can see is a message that says "Military Service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" running up the right-hand side. The rest of the text is too fuzzy to see clearly.

Once again, the Russians "bombard” Ukrainian soldiers with Hryvnia Leaflets
The Leaflet contains instructions for safe surrender and acts as a safe Conduct Pass
Russian Ministry of Defense

On 17 May 2023, the Russian Ministry of Defense placed a short 50-second film on YouTube depicting leaflets fired at Ukrainian forces by the BM-21 Grad launcher. Once again, we see Ukraine 1000 Hryvnias Banknotes. The Russian military said that it was engaging in a special campaign to encourage Ukrainian soldiers to surrender, "which will subsequently save their lives and prevent senseless bloodshed in further battles."


Pineland Training Currency

United States Special Forces constantly train and take part in various war games to hone their tactical and military skills. As part of these games the Special Forces are sent behind enemy lines to train groups of insurgents and lead them against an enemy government. One of the jobs the soldiers must master is paying the insurgents who will try to steal money, be paid more than once, or bluster and threaten death to the Americans unless they receive more money. Military paymasters are tested on their ability to police the pay line and see that all is done correctly. Various methods are used such as the marking of hands with ink.

For more than 50 years, the Robin Sage exercise has been used by the Special Forces. It is held in the rural counties of North Carolina and the soldiers must put all of the skills they have learned throughout the Special Forces Qualification Course to the test in an unconventional-warfare training exercise. The countryside surrounding Ft. Bragg becomes Pineland. Local civilians and Reserve soldiers play townspeople, loyal guerrillas and enemy troops.

The Army talks about the war game in press packets. Some of the data is:

Robin Sage had its beginnings in 1952, when Col. Aaron Bank noticed the need for "real world" training.

Considering the proximity of the exercise to the public, residents may hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares, neither of which poses risk to persons or property. Residents that encounter a problem should contact local law enforcement officials, who will immediately contact exercise control officials.

Robin Sage is designed to provide realistic training in unconventional warfare tactics and techniques. It is the final test of skills learned over the past 12-15 months in the Special Forces Qualification Course.

During the exercise, 8,500 square miles of central North Carolina becomes the Republic of Pineland. Over 1,000 people consisting of instructors, students, volunteers, civilian authorities and the citizens from the area participate. Local citizens portray natives and auxiliary forces while additional service-members role-play opposing and guerrilla forces to depict a realistic unconventional warfare environment.

The military regularly prepares fake war game currency to be used in these exercises. The Pineland currency above is issued in denominations from $5 to $1000.

The National Bank of Costa Safe Conduct Banknote

Another exercise for PSYOP troops in the field during war games is to prepare propaganda leaflets and safe conduct passes in the form of banknotes to be dropped on the opposition forces. The troops can be stressed with various difficulties and time constraints and it is excellent practice for real wartime operations. I have four different versions of the above Costa note so it is clear that this exercise was run on a regular basis. The same type of Cuban banknote that was parodied in Grenada is used here, as the forces of Ventura war with the forces of Costa and ask them to throw down their arms.


The Midway Island Gooney Bird

The Midway Island Gooney Bird Banknote

Decades ago, on my way to Korea we stopped for a brief time on Midway Island. Everybody is familiar with the Gooney bird so the first thing most of us did was to walk down to the beach and take a picture of one. You can see the one I took above. Naval personnel stationed on the island from perhaps 1946 to about 1948 also prepared some banknotes, probably as souvenirs of their service there, though this is not known for sure. They are marked “SHORT SNORTER NOTE” so perhaps the men in a unit were meant to sign them for each other so they had a souvenir of the people they worked with. Whatever the reason, several varieties are known and they are very similar; some slight text changes and the names of the people who signed them as “Mayor” and “Secretary-Treasurer.”

There are probably numerous other Cold War Currency documents residing in collections. I have mentioned those that I found particularly interesting. For the sake of completing our research we ask that any readers having comments or banknotes of this type contact the author at