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article imageBerlin debt from 1562 comes to light, worth trillions today

By Leigh Goessl     Jul 19, 2012 in World
Mittenwalde - A 450-year-old certificate of debt has been pulled out of an archive that shows Berlin owes the small German town of Mittenwalde quite a bit of cash.
According to Reuters, Mittenwalde would be one of the richest towns in the world if Berlin were to pay back the centuries-old debt. The town currently houses between 8,000 and 9,000 residents .
The certificate was found by Mittenwalde town historian, Vera Schmidt, and was dated May 28, 1562. The seal on the certificate is missing, however it is believed to be legitimate and still valid.
"In 1893 there was a debate in which the document was examined and the writing was determined to be authentic," Schmidt said, reported Reuters.
The note outlines Berlin borrowed 400 guilders from Mittenwalde, with the terms of debt being six percent of interest per year.
Radio Berlin Brandenburg (translated via Reuters) reported on the debt, noting it would be worth "11,200 guilders today, which is roughly equivalent to 112 million euros ($136.79 million)."
Pfarrkirche St. Moritz in Mittenwalde.
Pfarrkirche St. Moritz in Mittenwalde.
Apparently, Mittenwalde has been trying to reclaim the long-overdue debt since the early 19th century, but without any success. Reportedly, they try every 50 years to claim their money.
Although, Berlin did purportedly give Mittenwalde a 1539 guilder.
"This case shows that debts always catch up with you, no matter how old they are," Berlin's finance senator Ulrich Nussbaum reportedly told the Berliner Zeitung said Reuters.
At this point in time Berlin, in substantial debt, couldn't repay the loan anyway, having previously sought out federal aid in 2006 when in 60 million euros of debt. Media reports say the city is currently 63 million euros in the red.
"Reclaiming the debt would bring significant riches to Mittenwalde, a seat of power in the middle ages, which now has a population of 8,800," Schmidt said.
More about berlin debt, 1562 debt, Germany, Berlin, Mittenwalde
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