The Strange Story of Holocaust Money

Feb. 27 2019

In a number of camps and ghettos, Auschwitz among them, the Nazis issued currency to the prisoners that could be exchanged for cigarettes and sometimes for food. In some cases, it was bartered by the inmates and subject to the same fluctuations in value as any other currency. The form and function of this ersatz money varied from place to place, so that it would be completely worthless to anyone who escaped. Santi Elijah Holley writes:

The Lodz ghetto, in occupied Poland, was the first where the Nazis designed, printed, and distributed money to be used exclusively by the occupants. The pfennig notes that circulated among [the ghetto’s] 160,000 residents between 1940 and [its] shuttering in 1944 depicted a seven-branch menorah atop a chain of Stars of David, linked so as to resemble barbed wire.

The Third Reich was soon printing and distributing unique currencies throughout most of the ghettos in its occupied territories. These coins and coupons included the name of the ghetto, a monetary value, and, usually, the Star of David. The Nazi officials who controlled each ghetto were responsible for choosing an artist—often this was an occupant of the ghetto—and approving the final design.

The Theresienstadt getto kronen (ghetto crowns) were designed by an artist, playwright, and ghetto occupant named Peter Kien, originally from the Czech border town of Varnsdorf but educated in Brno and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, as well as the graphic-design school Officina Pragensis. Ordered by Reinhard Heydrich, the high-ranking SS officer Hitler had placed in charge of the ghettos, to include an illustration of Moses and the Ten Commandments in his design, Kien had his original effort rejected; Heydrich felt that Moses was too Aryan in appearance.

Under Heydrich’s [supervision], Kien redesigned the notes, giving Moses stereotypically exaggerated Semitic features like a hooked nose, curly hair, and excessively long and slender fingers. Heydrich also ordered that Moses’ fingers be positioned on the tablets so as to obscure the phrase “Thou shalt not kill.” The design was approved, and the notes were distributed throughout Theresienstadt.

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More about: Auschwitz, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Nazis, Theresienstadt

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror