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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 2 kronen note, owned by a child inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1998.20.1

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 2 kronen note, owned by a child inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 2 (zwei) kronen, distributed in Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto-labor camp beginning in May 1943. The ghetto currency was printed by the National Bank in 7 similar, beautifully designed denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100. Currency was confiscated from inmates and replaced with scrip for exchange only in the camp. There was little to obtain in exchange for the scrip, except library books. Located thirty miles northwest of Prague in German occupied Czechoslovakia, the ghetto-labor camp was established by the Germans in November 24, 1941, and ceased operation in early May 1945. In 3.5 years, approximately 140,000 Jewish persons were transferred to Terezin; nearly 90,000 were then deported, likely to their death, further east. About 33,000 died in Theresienstadt.
    issue:  1943 January 01
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Denise Kopecky
    face, lower right corner, red ink : 2
    reverse, upper left corner, plate mark, red ink : A007
    reverse, upper right corner, red ink : 2
    reverse, lower left corner, red ink : 2
    reverse, center, red ink : Quittung / über / ZWEI KRONEN / THERESIENSTADT, AM 1.JANNER 1943 DER ALTESTE DER JUDEN / IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein [Receipt / of / TWO CROWNS / THERESIENSTADT, ON 1. JANUARY 1943 THE ELDER OF THE JEWS IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein]
    Subject: Denise E. Kopecky
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Denise Kopecky (born Denise Elbert or Elbertsova) was born on August 22, 1941 in Nemecka Lupca, Slovakia to Hugo and Alice (Winczer) Elbert. Hugo owned a wholesale business before the war and her mother had taught piano. In March 1939, Nemecka Lupca became part of the newly independent state of Slovakia, whose fascist government moved quickly to impose restrictions on its Jewish population. These measures were intensified in the summer of 1941 when Slovak troops entered the war as allies of the German Reich. Deportations of Slovak Jews to ghettos and camps in Poland began in March 1942 and continued through October. After having their business Aryanized and their personal property confiscated, Denise's parents and Uncle Alexander Elbert were deported to the Lublin district in June 1942. She was left behind with her grandparents, Gejza and Melania Elbert. Her grandfather, however, died suddenly the following month. Denise, who was then less than a year old, was saved from deportation by Maria Bela, a Christian friend of her parents, who had secured a new birth and baptismal certificate for her from a local Lutheran minister in May 1942. After the death of her husband, Melania fled with Denise to the mountains, where they remained for several months. In 1943 they returned to Nemecka Lupca after receiving assurances from the Slovak woman who had taken over Hugo's business, that it was safe to do so. A short time later, however, they were sent to Theresienstadt, where they remained until their liberation by the Soviets in May 1945. Denise was only three years old when the war ended. Following their release, Melania and Denise returned to Nemecka Lupca. Denise later married Richard Kohn, a fellow survivor from Slovakia who had been interned as a young boy in the Novaky labor camp.
    Franz Peter Kien was born January 1, 1919, in Varnsdorf, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), to Leonard and Olga Frankl Kien. His father Leonard was born in 1886, in Varnsdorf, and was a member of the German-speaking Jewish population in the, the Sudetenalnd, which bordered Germany. Leonard was a textile manufacturer with his own factory. Peter’s mother Olga was born in 1898, in Bzenec, Austro-Hungary (Czech Republic), to Jewish parents. After 1929, the Kien family moved to Brno. Peter enrolled at the German Gymnasium, where he excelled at drawing, painting, and writing. In 1936, he graduated and moved to Prague to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. He also attended the Officina Pragensis, a private graphic design school run by a well-known Jewish artist, Hugo Steiner-Prag.

    On September 29, 1938, Germany annexed the Sudetenland. On March 15, 1939, Germany invaded Prague and annexed the Bohemia and Moravia provinces of Czechoslovakia, ruled by a Reich Protector. Jews were banned from participation in government, businesses, and organization, including schools. Peter had to leave the Academy, but continued to study at the Officina Pragensis. He also taught at Vinohrady Synagogue. In September 1940, Peter married Ilse Stranska, who was born on May 9, 1915, in Pilsen, to Jewish parents.

    In late September 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, the SS head of RSHA, Reich Main Security Office, became Reich Protector. Soon there were regular deportations of Jews to concentration camps. At the end of November, Theresienstadt concentration and transit camp near Prague got its first shipment of Jewish prisoners. On December 14, Peter was transported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp. He was assigned to the technical department where he worked as a draftsman and designer alongside other artists, including Bedrich Fritta, Leo Haas, and Jiri Lauscher. On July 16, 1942, Peter’s wife Ilse arrived in the camp. On January 30, 1943, Peter’s parents Leonard and Olga were transported from Bzenec to Terezin. Peter was assigned major projects by the Jewish Council that administered the camp for the Germans, such as the scrip receipts used in place of money in the camp. He secretly documented the inmate’s daily life, creating portraits and other drawings, and wrote plays, poems, and an operatic libretto. On October 16, 1944, Peter’s wife Ilse and his parents Leonard and Olga were selected for deportation. Peter volunteered to go with them. Before leaving, Peter and his family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. Peter survived the selection process, soon fell ill, likely with typhus, and died at age 25 in late October 1944. His wife and parents were killed at Auschwitz. Some of the work that Peter left with other prisoners or hid at Theresienstadt survived and has been exhibited worldwide.

    Physical Details

    German Hebrew
    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Theresienstadt scrip printed on rectangular, offwhite paper in red/brown and light red ink. The face has a vignette with an image of Moses, a bearded man with a wrinkled brow, holding 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments in Hebrew. To the right is the denomination 2 and German text. The background rectangle has a geometric latticework pattern. On the right is a wide, offwhite border with 2 in the bottom corner below a Star of David. The reverse has a background rectangle with an interlocked diamond pattern, overprinted with German text, an engraved signature, and a scrollwork line. The denomination 2 is in the upper right corner. On the left is a wide, off-white border with 2 in the lower corner below a Star of David in a lined circle. The plate letter and number are in the upper left corner. Scrip is stained, creased, and very worn.
    overall: Height: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Width: 4.375 inches (11.113 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 by Denise Kopecky.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:23:35
    This page:

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