Tag Archives: asia

Communist banknotes: Part 4

China is a country that you really wouldn’t call communistic today. The current Chinese superpower is far from what the country was in the 1950s and 60s. The country is still highly authoritarian with only one accepted political party and with limitations in for example freedom of speech. Economically speaking the country is acting far from the ideals of Marx, but this is what has given the country its international success. But when it comes large parts of the country’s population the development have been devastating. Wealth in China is increasing hand in hand with pollution.

05 Kina - 100 Yuan - Mao

The country has certainly made an interesting journey during this past century, but whenever change is happening too quickly the man featured on this 100 yuan banknote has always been mentioned as an ideal to strive back to. This is Mao Zedong (1893-1976) who lead the communist party during the civil war that followed the Second World War. The communists were victorious and the country would change down to its foundations. Mao is a well-known figure, both from his portrait at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and pieces of art by Warhol. In China many see him as a symbol for the old and better way that existed before the economical reformations. As with many communist leaders they often get a nostalgic aura surrounding them. Let’s not forget that Mao was responsible for the murders of millions of dissident, the starvation of millions during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the destruction of cultural treasures during the Culture Revolution (1966-1976).

Now we got three bankotes left…

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Russia: 50 kopek 1899 + Bonus

Nikolaj II Romanov was the emperor (czar) of Russia between 1894 and 1917, during the last period of the Russian Empire. Nikolaj was the father of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who according to legend would have survived the execution on her family, but this has been disproven.

This is a beautiful silver coin with the czar himself and the towheaded eagle – a symbol of the Russian Empire. Post-USSR the eagle is once again used as a symbol of Russia but now without the crowns, the spire and the globus cruciger. Nikolaj looks very secure on the coin, there’s and aura about him that radiates “good leader”. In 1899 this may have been the way that the world saw him as well. But that would change. Nikolaj were to be the last czar. He would bring the Russian Empire to its end.

First of all I need to mention the war with Japan (1904-1905). The war mainly concerned the region of Manchuria (present day China and Russia) and the Russians thought that it would be an easy victory against the undeveloped Asians. However Japan was developed – a result of major economic changes during the 19th century. Japan won and marked the first victory of an “undeveloped” country against one of Europe’s superpowers. Russia’s prestige was diminished and so was Nikolaj’s.

Internal problems continued in Russia. The population mainly consisted of farmers, people who lived tough lives with little help from the ruling classes. Tension continued to stir with different organizations defying the czar’s rule.

In 1914 Russia was a part of the entente, an alliance also consisting of Great Britain and France, whom stood against the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) during what would be known as the Great War and later (at the time of WWII) as the First World War. Russia was an early looser with the powers of Germany overpowering it. This was yet again a disaster, but of a grander scale. The war took place in the motherland and the Russians were losing. The already low standard of living decreased, there was food shortage and millions of soldiers were lost in battle. Uprisings started in the larger cities among workers and together with deserters of the Russian army the czar was forced to abdicate. This was the result of the February revolution (in March according to the Gregorian calendar) 1917.

A provisional government was formed but this too would have to step down. During the October revolution (in November) the Bolsheviks (translated to “men of the majority”) managed to get power by another military uprising. The Bolsheviks was a result of the misery in Russia and they shared a communist ideology – calling for an end of a society divided by class with an ambition of collectivizing ownership. The new Russian ruler quickly made peace with Germany, resulting in the loss of large areas. Their new system was put to use and the royal family, with Nikolaj and Anastasia, was executed. A civil war started together with a witch hunt on wealthy people and landowners.

Russia’s new leader was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the rebels since the turn of the century. He was a vital part in turning Russia yet again to a super power, but now as a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

This Soviet 1 ruble coin is commemorating the year when Lenin would have turned 100 years (1970).

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