A certificate of debt has resurfaced near Berlin, revealing that Germany's largest city owes one very small, nearby town what could be trillions of dollars.
Mittenwalde is a small town to the south east of Berlin which is usually described as nothing more than that- small and next to Berlin. With a population of just under 9,000 people as of 2011, the small town has nothing on its sister city, except for proof of a massive debt.
"A certificate of debt, found in a regional archive, attests that Mittenwalde lent Berlin 400 guilders on May 28 1562, to be repaid with six percent interest per year," Reuters reported on Wednesday.
That amount would equal an estimated 11,200 guilders today, or nearly $137 million. The problem is however, that figure does not account for interest and inflation. In today's dollar, Berlin would likely owe Mittenwalde a sum that goes into the trillions.
Town historian Vera Schmidt is responsible for finding the slip and says that she is certain that the slip should be valid.
"In 1893 there was a debate in which the document was examined and the writing was determined to be authentic," Schmidt told Reuters.
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However, according to Schmidt, the long lost debt is no mystery. She stated that the town had been trying to collect on its debt since 1820, and repeats the efforts every 50 years or so, according to Reuters.
"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."
Unfortunately, despite being one of Germany's biggest cities, Berlin is not one it's richest. It appears that Berlin could not pay off such a debt even if they wanted to. As of June the city was already 63 million Euros in the red.