E. Germans Rush to Withdraw Savings Before Unity Move

Associated Press

East Germans rushed to their banks Wednesday to withdraw their savings, hoping to get the best possible exchange rate with the mighty West German mark.

While official delegations from both Germanys met behind closed doors in East Berlin to forge a plan for monetary union, worried people stood in long lines outside their banks, eager to rescue some of their savings.

The high-level negotiations now taking place are based on a Bonn proposal for a basic 1-for-1 exchange rate for wages and pensions.

However, savings accounts would be swapped 1-for-1 only up to 4,000 marks. Under the current exchange rate, 4,000 East German marks is worth about $767, while 4,000 West German marks is worth about $2,300.

Savings above 4,000 marks would be exchanged at a 2-for-1 rate.

"I've withdrawn all but 4,000 marks and am putting the rest in the account of a friend," said a construction worker on East Berlin's Alexander Square who refused to be identified. "That way we can both end up with more."

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