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Labour Certificates - a complementary currency in Austria in 1932/33


Wörgler Freigeld: Help with labour certificates


Free money of Wörgl

The Wörgler Freigeld proved to be economic crisis assistance in 1932/33. By using the Wörgl labour Certificate, the mayor at that time Michael Unterguggenberger force the financing of a schedule of work, it succeeded  to set the regional economy in motion again.

The success story of the “Wörgler Arbeitswertscheine“  after the economic money ideas from Silvio Gesell was based on the rapid circulation of the local valid money. This guaranteed a monthly devaluation of one percent. By adding a mark the certificate kept its full value. The devaluation meant that everyone spent the only regional valid currency as fast as possible again. The “Schwundgeld” went from worker to businessmen and landed as tax money back in the town’s cashbox, where it would be used as workers wages.    

The town council financed in the context of the emergency aid programme into the infrastructure. On average 100 persons from the 1931 registered 400 unemployed persons in Wörgl, stay in work with the help of the emergency aid programme.

The success did not stay hidden. The american senate and the European press looked at the Wörgler Freigeld campaign. Councils in the USA introduced labour Certificates after the Wörgler example. About 200 Mayors in Austria wanted to use the Wörgl experiment to combat the crises in their local municipalities. However, the austrian central bank saw its cash expenditure monopoly hurt by the labour certificate offer and implemented with great pressure the prohibition of the Wörgler help in need action in September 1933.  The Wörgler currency experiment still attracts world-wide attention today as a functioning example of a regionally valid secondary currency.


Further information about the labour certificates and Michael Unterguggenberger:

Free money of Wörgl - pdf download (1,8 mb)

Exhibition 1996 Heimatmuseum Wörgl - Text:
PDF click here for download (48 kb)

A short film explaining the Wörgler Freigeld on youtube:


Information about the money-system and community complementary currencies: Film "In what we trust" - Info: http://denkmal-film.com/inwhatwetrust/

Wörgler currency in CoinsWeekly-Archive: http://www.muenzenwoche.de/en/Archive/8?&id=17&type=a


The 2007 Michael Unterguggenberger Economic and Educational Prize 

The city of Wörgl first gave away the Michael Unterguggenburger prize for best financial or economic idea in 1981. The winner received an endowment of 50,000 schillings. In 2007 the Michael Unterguggenberger prize will once again be awarded, in commemoration of Wörgl’s Free Economy Experiment. This time, the prize is worth 5,000 euros and is based on criteria aimed at the realization of projects focused upon improving the community.

The aim of the project was to collect as many ideas and designs which challenge the conscious use and functionality of money as well as to highlight the usefulness and effectiveness of supplemental forms of payment.

The submitted projects - click here


Ezra Pound in Wörgl

Ezra Pound  was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual. He visited Wörgl 1935 in order to study the labour certificates. Pound condemned usury and saw in freigeld-money the solution for a better economic system. He wrote about Wörgl in the Pisan Cantos, which won the first Bollingen Prize from the Library of Congress in 1949. 


click to enlarge


The Unterguggenberger Institute of Wörgl

is a registered non-profit society, founded in 2003 for the documentation and public education on the WWII free money experiment in Wörgl as well as complementary currencies today.

The Unterguggenberger Institute initiated the „LA21 youth project I-MOTION“ in 2004.

The society is a founding member of the initiative „Neues Geld in Österreich 2007“ and addressed a petition onto the Austrian Parliament in 2008.

Complementary Currencies - Community Currencies today - a summary in 2014: pdf download (864 kb)

Wörgl in former days: The tallies - pdf download (387 kb)



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