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Concentration Camp and Ghetto Currency

Article about: The Dachau piece is a fantasy item. KL Dachau scrip had a totally different appearance. Later in the thread, I will show the correct format. The other examples are originals, with the Buchen

  1. #1
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    Default Concentration Camp and Ghetto Currency

    The purpose of this thread, which I intend to update on a regular basis, is to address the lack of factual information about one of the lesser known areas among the myriad of Third Reich period paper items. Das Lagergeld der Konzentrationslagers (Camp Money of the Concentration Camps), is an area that is unfortunately often ignored or incorrectly documented. Numerous examples, both legitimate and not, will be shown throughout the thread and accompanied by information and tips for collectors and students alike.

    Initially, I would like to address one of the most common questions related to this subject, i.e. "Why was money created for use within the camps...?"

    There are several reasons...

    Firstly, to create an incentive for the prisoners to work harder.

    Prisoners were awarded tokens/scrip/coupons/notes for their efforts whilst performing forced labour activities. Companies who paid the SS for the use of the prisoners as slave labour, also paid money for tokens which were later issued as a reward for increased performance.

    Secondly, the fact that the SS wanted to humiliate their prey is no revelation, but exchanging fake money for real money, further added to the prisoner's misery and low self esteem.

    The Nazi use of propaganda is legendary, and the visits of the Red Cross for example, were patently used as opportunities to mislead the outside world. Having prisoners walk around with money, with which they were able to go shopping with, albeit on an extremely limited basis, further hid the true reality of life inside the camps and ghettos.

    In some locations, prisoners actually exchanged real money or other valuables for camp notes. This meant that the SS received real money, in exchange for almost worthless tokens.

    Prisoners also could not use the tokens outside of the camps, so escape would be rendered even more difficult with no means to sustain the prisoner, should he or she find themselves outside the camp.

    More to follow...
    Last edited by CARL; 01-02-2013 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Title adjustment
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    KL and Ghetto scrip can be divided into two general categories. Firstly, the tokens that were used in the camps, such as KL-Auschwitz, KL-Flossenbrg and KL-Mauthausen, were of very primitive, almost featureless design. This was not only done to reduce the costs of elaborate artwork and printing, but also to add to the degradation of the recipient. Camp money that looked nothing like regular money, would make the prisoners feel even further away from the real world, and assisted the SS in humiliating the prisoners even more. These tokens could only be redeemed in very limited ways, such as payment at the camp brothel. Meanwhile, ghetto notes such as the beautiful examples that were created for use in Theresienstadt, had much more detail and resembled the banknotes of the real world. Life in the ghetto, whilst testing at the best of times, was never as bad as life in the camps, with the occupants often able to go about daily business in a manner that at least in some areas, slightly resembled life as they had previously known it. The money, with its resemblance to banknotes of the period, was one such way that the occupants were reminded of the real world. A mindset that was not only created by the SS, but also engineered to the their advantage. Within the ghettos, notes, together with the complex systems of food coupons and rationing cards, were also able to acquire a wider range of products and services than the more limited tokens circulated within the camps.

    Below, two examples are shown to highlight the difference between camp and ghetto money. The basic, primitive design and construction of the KL-Flossenbrg premium token, is in stark contrast to the far more elaborate Theresienstadt banknotes, some of which, namely the higher denominations, were even watermarked.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture 1K A001b.jpg   RM1 1.JPG  

    Last edited by CARL; 01-17-2013 at 03:22 AM.
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Shortly after Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis began opening detention centres for enemies of the state. One such location was KZ Oranienburg, a former factory that was utilised as a concentration camp for political prisoners. Along with Dachau near Munich, Esterwegen near Hamburg and Lichtenburg in Saxony, Oranienburg, located just north of Berlin, was one of the larger camps to be founded during the early days of the Third Reich. Oranienburg was replaced by Sachsenhausen, which was opened nearby, after just two years yet in this time, it played a vital and interesting role in the world of concentration camp currency. The first ever notes to be specifically made for prisoners of concentration camps were produced for KL Oranienburg. The notes themselves were far more detailed and indeed prepared, than many later examples from other such camps. As one way of protecting Germany's image on an international basis, the Nazis added a monetary system that would on the surface at least, help to cover up what was actually taking place within the camps, and the artist given the task of producing the first camp notes, Horst-Willi Lippert, an early prisoner of Oranienburg, duly obliged by creating images of industry and decent surroundings on the scrip. However, closer inspection reveals attempts to show otherwise.

    The lowest denomination, i.e. the 5pfg, displays a camp building behind a fence, with trees added to no doubt soften the overall image, using natural beauty as a background for the camp. A group of prisoners can be seen towards the edge of the scene, seemingly on their way to or from work. The 10pfg bears a factory and chimney, along with two shields above the words Lagergeld des Konzentrationslagers Oranienburg. One of the shields shows an image of the swastika, whilst the other displays a more agricultural image of wheat and trees. The most interesting of the denominations is the 50pfg example. These have two S.A. men flanking a large official Nazi emblem. Across the centre of the obverse is a line of barbed wire, which together with the armed S.A. men creates a powerful enough image in its own right. Yet Lippert wasn't content to simply show how powerful the new order were, he wanted to convey a message that the truth was being hidden behind the walls and fences of these establishments. Lippert decided to alter the letter g in Konzentrationslagers, by scratching away at the upper part of the letter, resulting in a letter that more resembled a y. This meant that the first batches of notes were printed with the wording Lagergeld des Konzentrationslayers. Patently, the error was corrected later when the Germans noticed the tiny difference. The 1RM note shows a man planting a tree, before a large bold swastika.

    Shown below is an image of an authentic example. Note the y as mentioned above. Many counterfeiters began to produce 50pfg tokens years ago, but they are easily recognised as they tend to be black not brown, sport a very elaborate border and are identical on both sides of the note. Originals were printed with different designs on either side.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture SDC15809.jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  4. #4

    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Nice thread. I HAD one of the type you posted first above that was given to me by Anna--a Jewish lady im friends with and whom I used to volunteer time with going through the CC Museum of Science and History--history collection. Anna had been in one of the camps as a young girl but when I met her--when was in her 80s. Sadly, she passed away about 2-3 years ago. Also, some Concentration Camp money did look like German script--I had 3-4 pf those too. The only difference between the two was that the CC money had their names stamped on the border of those. I gave those to a good friend in France and will see if I cna get him to send me images of them for posting here?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Thank you. Images of camp or ghetto scrip will be most welcome.

    Regards,

    Carl
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Compare the original Oranienburg token shown above, with this modern example. The differences are patently clear, yet these pieces often catch unknowing collectors out. These reproduction pieces are uniform on both sides, a facet which is not found on the period tokens. The colouration and elaborate borders also differ greatly. Despite these flaws, they remain popular sellers at flea markets and also appear advertised as original items on various dealers sites from time to time. However, due to the lack of credible information related to this subject, it is quite possible that many believe that the reproduced examples are actually original period produced camp scrip.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture ORAN REPRO.jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  7. #7

    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Quote by TIGER88 View Post
    Thank you. Images of camp or ghetto scrip will be most welcome.

    Regards,

    Carl
    Ill look and see if I still have any? I know I gave away one a few years ago--but not sure if I gave the others away or not? I had a total of five--three were printed with blue and two were green. Ill try letting you know on this soon as I get a chance to sift through all my stuff ;-))

  8. #8

    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    I forgot to mention, I think I also still have some 3-4 pieces of German Army cript that looks like the CC stuff. These are all 1 and 5 DM notes--or whatever they were called back then?.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    Quote by history-buff1944 View Post
    I forgot to mention, I think I also still have some 3-4 pieces of German Army cript that looks like the CC stuff. These are all 1 and 5 DM notes--or whatever they were called back then?.

    They would be welcome additions to the "SHOW ME THE MONEY" thread, if you are familiar with that one? Its here within the paper items forum anyway. I'd like to keep this one strictly as a concentration camp and ghetto related thread, due to the lack of reliable information available for collectors. Thanks again for your reply h-b'44.

    Regards,

    Carl
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wypeya oki hi sni"

  10. #10

    Default Re: Concentration camp currency

    I would be grateful for opinions on the authenticity of these ghetto and KL notes. I would of thought the Dachau one was the most suspect.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture money1.jpg   money2.jpg  

    money3.jpg   money4.jpg  


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