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Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 2 mark note, found postwar

Object | Accession Number: 1986.33.2

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    Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 2 mark note, found postwar

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 2 marks, distributed in Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto, and found at the site of Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in Czechoslovakia by Miriam Novitch after the war. The scrip was issued in the German-controlled Łódź ghetto from June of 1940 to its liquidation in the fall of 1944. The scrip was issued in denominations of: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 mark notes; 5, 10, and 20 mark coins; and 50 pfennig notes and 10 pfennig coins. Miriam Novitch was living in France, working in a factory and giving Russian and German language lessons when Germany invaded the country in May, 1941. During the occupation Miriam joined the Resistance. At first, she brought printed materials into Paris and handed them out for distribution in different parts of the city. Later, Miriam worked as an intelligence agent, gathering information from German soldiers that she went out with or gave language lessons to. She also rescued fellow Jews by obtaining fake papers for them and hiding them in resistance safe houses. On June 10, 1943, Miriam was arrested by the Gestapo after being betrayed by a friend. She was interrogated multiple times and spent two months in a prison cell before she was transferred to Vittel internment camp. She remained in Vittel until the end of the war. After the war Miriam traveled widely, gathering Holocaust related materials and testimonies. She was one of the founders of the Ghetto Fighters Museum at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta'ot, and its first art curator.
    Date
    issue:  1940 June-1944 August
    found:  after 1945 May
    Geography
    issue: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    acquired: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam Novitch
    Markings
    face, serial number, upper right, orange ink : Nº 193580
    face, center, brown ink : Quittung / über / Zwei Mark / Der Aelteste der Juden / in Litzmannstadt / M. Rumkowski / Litzmannstadt, den 15 Mai 1940 [[Receipt for Two Mark / The Eldest of the Jews in Litzmannstadt M Rumkowski Litzmannstadt, May 15 1940]
    face, lower right corner, brown ink : 2
    back, center, brown ink : Quittung / über / Zwei-Mark
    back, left and right center, brown ink : 2
    back, lower center, brown ink : WER DIESE QUITTUNG VERFÄLSCHT ODER NACH. / MACHT ODER GEFÄLSCHTE QUITTUNGEN IN / VERKEHR BRINGT / WIRD STRENGSTENS BESTRAFT [ANYONE WHO FALSIFIES OR COPIES THIS RECEIPT, OR TRAFFICS IN COUNTERFEIT RECEIPTS, WILL BE STRICTLY PUNISHED]
    back, lower left corner, brown ink : 2
    Contributor
    Subject: Miriam Novitch
    Designer: Ignacy Gutman
    Issuer: Der Aelteste der Juden in Litzmannstadt
    Biography
    Miriam Novitch (1908-1990) was born in Yurtishki, Belarus, Russian Empire (now Belarus) to Batya and Moshe-Yaakow. Miriam was the middle of three children, with her brothers Yossef and Shim’on. Moshe worked as a wood merchant, he leased part of a forest and sold the wood to a paper factory. During World War I, the family fled to Russia. When they returned home after the war, they found that their town had been destroyed, and the area had been annexed to the newly independent Poland. Later, Batya died unexpectedly and Moshe remarried and had two other children. The family then moved to Vilna, and Miriam attended Gymnasium and studied Polish, German, and French. Throughout her childhood and youth, Miriam's father encouraged her to study. After graduation, Miriam traveled to Paris, France where she changed her name to Maria. There, she continued her language studies and qualified as a teacher for Russian and German. She worked in factories to support herself while studying, and gave private language lessons. In 1937, Miriam had a son, Boris, (Baruch, later known as Bob) from a brief marriage with the painter Moshe Kastel.

    After the start of World War II and the occupation of France by Germany in June 1940, Miriam joined the French resistance. At first, Miriam brought printed materials into Paris and handed them out for distribution in different parts of the city. In 1942, she began giving private Russian lessons to a SS member who was in charge of a truck factory. During the lessons he told her when truck convoys were leaving the factory, and Miriam relayed the information to the Resistance. Because of her language skills, Miriam became an intelligence agent and would go out with Germans to collect information. She also rescued fellow Jews by obtaining fake papers and hiding them in resistance safe houses.

    On June 10, 1943, Miriam was arrested by the Gestapo after being betrayed by a friend. She was interrogated multiple times and spent two months in a prison cell before she was transferred to Vittel internment camp. In the camp, a woman who was being deported entrusted her infant daughter to Miriam. Miriam named her Batya after her mother, and raised her as her own child. Miriam and Batya remained in Vittel until the camp was liberated by US troops on September 12, 1944.

    Miriam and Batya returned to Paris, and rejoined her son, Boris. In 1953, Miriam immigrated to Israel and dedicated herself to Holocaust research and commemoration. She travelled widely, gathering Holocaust related materials and testimonies. She was one of the founders of the Ghetto Fighters Museum at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta'ot, and its first art curator.
    Ignacy Gutman (1900- 1972) was born in Łódź, Poland, to Samuel (Szmul, 1862-1925) and Anna (Chana, 1868- 1936) nee Leder. In 1919, Ignacy volunteered to fight for Poland during the Polish–Soviet War. Afterward, he attended the University of Warsaw and graduated from their architecture program in 1927. In 1930, Ignacy married Sabina Stambulska, (1905-1987) a teacher, and the couple had a daughter, Monika (1932-?). Ignacy designed several modernist houses and buildings in Łódź, and was a co-owner of the architectural firm I. Gutman, L. Oli Architects, from 1935 to 1939.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. One week later, the German army occupied Łódź, renamed the city Litzmannstadt, and immediately instigated violence and anti-Semitic policies. Jews were no longer allowed to walk on sidewalks, and were often assaulted when they walked in the streets. They were forced to turn their valuables over to the authorities, and those suspected of not complying were beaten and tortured. On February 8, 1940, the Łódź ghetto was established in the older, poorer part of the city, and Ignacy and his family were forcibly relocated inside. In March and April, the Germans encircled the ghetto with a barbed wire and wood fence. Armed guards and dogs were stationed around the perimeter with orders to shoot Jews that approached the fence.

    While in the ghetto, Ignacy was a director of the Building Department, and arranged for his daughter to work with him in the department. Ignacy was tasked by his friend, Judenrat Chairman, Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, to design the paper scrip (currency) that would be used in the ghetto. He completed his designs in early 1940. The scrip was printed in May and issued in the ghetto in June. The Germans ordered the Jews to exchange their remaining valuables for ghetto currency, and used it as a modest payment for their forced labor. In October, the Nazis established workshops where Jews labored 10-14 hours a day in overcrowded and poorly ventilated conditions to pay back their debt for living in the ghetto. From January to September 1942, German authorities deported over 70,000 Jews to Chelmno killing center.

    In August 1944, in response to advancing Soviet forces, the Germans began transporting the remaining Jews out of the ghetto, primarily to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. During this time, Ignacy built a bunker where he and his family hid to avoid the deportations. He was selected for the cleaning squad, a group of prisoners who confiscated materials and valuables out of the ghetto after the other prisoners had been deported. While in hiding, Ignacy contracted tuberculosis. However, he was able to survive until the ghetto was liberated by the Soviets in January 1945.

    After the war, Ignacy and his family stayed in Łódź, and he spent two years in sanatorium recovering from his illness. After his recovery, Ignacy worked as an architect at the Central Management of the Clothing Industry and at the City Design Office. He designed the Jewish Theatre, Public City Library, and Łódź Municipality. On February, 1958, Ignacy and his family immigrated to Israel on the SS Herzl.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Category
    Money
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Genre/Form
    Money.
    Physical Description
    Lodz ghetto scrip, originally rectangular, torn into three pieces of off-white paper printed in brown and orange ink. The face has an abstract trellis pattern underprint. The denomination 2 is in the lower right corner. There is a 1.25 inch right margin, a bordered rectangle with a background of interlocked Stars of David, and an encircled Star of David in the upper left corner. Both the serail number and a smaller Star of David are depicted inside a brown square in the right border. In the center is the denomination, Zwei Mark, and German text. The back has the denomination 2 in the lower left corner. There is a 1.25 inch left margin, and a bordered rectangle with a background of interlocked Stars of David. In the center is a 7- branched menorah, flanked by the denomination 2 within a set of 9 concentric rings, and overlaid by a banner with the denomination Zwei-Mark. The note is soiled with deep creases, small holes, and an adhesive tape repair.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 2.625 inches (6.668 cm) | Width: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1986 by Miriam Novitch.
    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 17:44:44
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn23

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