Before World War I, just one of these pretty 1,000 mark notes was equal to about $240 USD. But after the war, it was worth just pennies. To fund the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II made the disastrous decision to remove Germany from the gold standard. Overnight, banks could print money with abandon. The market flooded with cash, which led to inflation, and then hyperinflation — reaching a catastrophic degree in 1923 when a loaf a bread cost two billion marks. A literal wheelbarrow full of money could buy next to nothing!