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Income tax stamp, 50 million marks, issued in Weimar Germany

Object | Accession Number: 2006.265.16

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    Income tax stamp, 50 million marks, issued in Weimar Germany

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Income tax stamp, valued at 50 million Reichsmarks, issued in Weimar Germany during the hyperinflation period, and later acquired by Ross Baker while living in Austria from 1937-1938. According to the German Reich Income Tax Act of 1920, employers were required to withhold taxation payments from their employee’s salaries or wages. Each employee was issued a tax record book by the local tax offices, and for each pay period, the employer would adhere a stamp for the amount of money withheld for taxes. The German government attempted to solve their post-World War I financial struggles by printing more money, which led to severe inflation. As the rate of inflation grew to critical levels between 1922 and 1923, the government printed higher and higher denominations, but was unable to keep up with the plunging rates. To keep pace with inflated pay, the government also had to print tax stamps in higher and higher denominations. The introduction of the new Rentenmark on November 16, 1923, successfully ended the hyperinflation. Despite this, the Nazi Party continued to use people’s residual economic fears as a propaganda tool to gain power, eventually leading to Adolf Hitler becoming Chancellor in 1933. In 1937, Ross Baker was on sabbatical from his teaching position at the College of the City of New York. His wife, Helen, and their sons accompanied him to Austria during the academic year 1937-1938 so he could take courses in microchemistry at the University of Vienna. The boys attended school while in Europe and the family traveled during the summers. They were in Vienna on March 13, 1938, when Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss," as well as during Adolf Hitler’s subsequent visit.
    Date
    acquired:  after 1928-before 1938 August 28
    issue:  after 1922 July-before 1923 December 18
    Geography
    acquired: Vienna (Austria)
    issue: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stanley A. Baker
    Markings
    front, oval frame, printed, green ink: EINKOMMENSTEUER / ▪ FÜNFZIG ▪ MILLIONEN ▪ M ▪ [INCOME TAX / ▪ FIFTY ▪ MILLION ▪ MARKS(?) ▪]
    front, center, printed, green ink: Mark / 50 000 000 / Deutsches Reich [Mark / 50,000,000 / German Empire]
    Contributor
    Subject: Ross A. Baker
    Subject: Helen Baker
    Issuer: Reichsfinanzministerium
    Biography
    Ross Allen Baker (1886-1978) was born in Greencastle, Indiana, to Philip and Luemma Baker (née Allen). Ross received a BA in chemistry in 1906 from DePauw University and a PhD in 1914 from the University of Wisconsin. He married Helen Fredericka Porter (1889-1964) on December 30, 1914. The couple had five sons: Philip Schaffner (1916-1986), Porter (1918-1987), Frederick Ross (1920-?), Stanley Allen (1921-?), and Raymond Davis (1921-1958). Ross held various teaching positions at universities throughout the United States and England. He was a national counselor in chemistry for the Boy Scouts of America, and helped write the merit badge booklet. During World War I (1914-1918), Ross served in the Chemical Warfare Service, specializing in the use of mustard gas. He later became active in efforts to have nations ban the use of biological and chemical weapons in the League of Nations, and later in the United Nations. In 1928, he was a US delegate for an International Union of Chemistry meeting at the League of Nations, and in 1938, he was a US delegate to the International Congress of Chemistry in Rome, Italy.

    In 1930, Ross began teaching at the College of the City of New York, and in 1937, he was given a sabbatical leave to take courses in microchemistry at the University of Vienna. Ross, his wife, and their sons lived in Vienna during the academic year 1937-1938. The boys attended school while in Europe and the family travelled during the summers. During that time, Austria was in the midst of an economic depression, which facilitated the growth of antisemitic and pro-Nazi sentiments. The Baker family was in the city on March 13, 1938, when Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." Helen kept a detailed diary describing what she saw as Austria was absorbed into Nazi Germany. The university closed temporarily, so Ross took his 16mm camera to film the events of the Anschluss and its aftermath in Vienna. As an American delegate to a convention, Ross had a badge that allowed him to film Hitler and others at close range.

    Following the Anschluss, many tourists left the country, but the Bakers remained, as Ross was slated to attend a chemistry convention in Rome in May. On April 10, there was a formal vote in support of Hitler as Fuhrer, and the newspapers were filled with Nazi propaganda. Following the elections, the German authorities immediately enacted anti-Jewish laws stripping Jews of their rights as citizens, including the right to vote. Ross filmed the widespread defacement and boycotting of Jewish businesses. There were financial problems as the banks closed to convert from shillings to German marks, and the Reichsbank froze foreign money exchanges to prevent withdrawals as people sought to leave. Although their American passports gave Ross and Helen a sense of security, their Jewish friends were anxious to escape Austria. In May 1938, the family accompanied Ross to Rome and witnessed public events for the summit meeting between Hitler and Mussolini. The family travelled the rest of the summer, and sailed from France back to the United States at the end of August.
    Helen Fredericka Porter (1889-1964) was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Alice and Frederick Porter. She studied at Baker University in Kansas from 1912 to 1913, and traveled to Germany in August 1912 to study. She married Ross Allen Baker, a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota, on December 30, 1914. The couple had five sons: Philip Schaffner (1916-1986), Porter (1918-1987), Frederick Ross (1920-?), Stanley Allen (1921-?), and Raymond Davis (1921-1958). Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Ross held teaching positions at various universities, prompting the family to move to several cities in the United States and England.

    In 1930, Ross began teaching at the College of the City of New York. In 1937, he was given a sabbatical leave to take courses in microchemistry at the University of Vienna. Helen and their sons accompanied him, and the family lived in Vienna during the academic year 1937-1938. The boys attended school while in Europe and the family travelled during the summers. During that time, Austria was in the midst of an economic depression, which facilitated the growth of antisemitic and pro-Nazi sentiments. The Baker family was in the city on March 13, 1938, when Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." Helen kept a detailed diary describing what she saw as Austria was absorbed into Nazi Germany. The university closed temporarily, so Ross took his 16mm camera to film the events of the Anschluss and its aftermath in Vienna. As an American delegate to a convention, Ross had a badge that allowed him to film Hitler and others at close range.

    Following the Anschluss, many tourists left the country, but the Bakers remained, as Ross was slated to attend a chemistry convention in Rome in May. On April 10, there was a formal vote in support of Hitler as Fuhrer, and the newspapers were filled with Nazi propaganda. Following the elections, the German authorities immediately enacted anti-Jewish laws stripping Jews of their rights as citizens, including the right to vote. Ross filmed the widespread defacement and boycotting of Jewish businesses. There were financial problems as the banks closed to convert from shillings to German marks, and the Reichsbank froze foreign money exchanges to prevent withdrawals as people sought to leave. Although their American passports gave Ross and Helen a sense of security, their Jewish friends were anxious to escape Austria. In May 1938, the family accompanied Ross to Rome and witnessed public events for the summit meeting between Hitler and Mussolini. The family travelled the rest of the summer, and sailed from France back to the United States at the end of August.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Tax stamps (tgm)
    Genre/Form
    Stamps.
    Physical Description
    Small, rectangular stamp with perforated edges and a central design printed in green ink on the front. The paper has a quatrefoil and trellis patterned watermark, and a light orange trellis underprint on the front. The central design is bordered by a frame with a crosshatch pattern. In the center is an oval frame with German text printed along its length. Within the oval is a numeric denomination with German text, layered over a scrollwork design, above and below the numbers. Between the oval and rectangular frames is multi-thread, loop design. The green ink on the front has worn slightly, while the back has a diagonal white stripe and no remaining adhesive.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Width: 1.625 inches (4.128 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 stamp was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Stanley A. Baker, the son of Ross and Helen Baker.
    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:
    2023-08-25 08:21:25
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn38409

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