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


Wörgler Freigeld: Help with labour certificates


The success story of the “Wörgler Arbeitswertscheine” (labour Certifi-
cates) after the economic money ideas from Silvio Gesell was quick to
catch on. This guaranteed a monthly devaluation of around 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
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 for the financing of a schedule of work, it succeeded,
to set the regional economy in motion again.
a trust committee set up by the Treuhand committee deposited a cover
for the value of the certificate, which could be exchanged at any time with
payment of a two percent fee in Schilling with the local raiffeisen Bank.
One part of the cash was passed past on covering as credit to businessmen,
which contributed likewise to the regional economic revival.
The town council financed in the context of the emergency aid programme
into the infrastructure, repairing desolate roads, installing sewer
pipes, established a wash and timber building, Street lights and a Steel
Cement bridge over the Wörgler river for the Wildschönauer Straße road,
promoting and developing tourism, financing the ski hill jump, and walk-
ing paths, setting up a state of emergency kitchen for feeding the poor.
On average 100 persons from the 1931 registered 400 unemployed persons in
Wörgl, found a job with the help of the emergency aid programme.
The success did not stay hidden – the neighbouring village of Kirchbichl
started building the bathing lake in 1933 with help of the labour Certifi-
cates. The american senate and the European press looked at the Wörgler
Freigeld campaign.
Councils in the USa introduced labour Certificates after the Wörgler
example. 170 Mayors 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:
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

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