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.

Read more at Topic

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount