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Postage stamp, 10 mark, issued in Germany during hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic

Object | Accession Number: 2006.265.122

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    Postage stamp, 10 mark, issued in Germany during hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic

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    Brief Narrative
    German postage stamp for 10 marks acquired by Ross Baker in prewar Vienna, Austria. It is an example of the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic of Germany from about 1915-1924. Ross was a chemist and professor at the City University of New York. In 1937, he received a sabbatical leave to study at the University of Vienna and moved there with his wife and five sons. During this time, the family witnessed many historic events, such as the Anschluss and its aftermath in Vienna, visits by Hitler and other German officials, and the defacement and boycotting of Jewish businesses. On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Vienna and, the next day, Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany. The German enacted anti-Jewish laws immediately. On April 10, there was a popular vote on the merger and 99% of the population voted Yes in support of Hitler as Fuhrer. Jews were among those who had already been stripped of their rights as citizens, including the right to vote.
    received:  1937-1938
    received: Vienna (Austria)
    issue: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stanley A. Baker
    Subject: Ross A. Baker
    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.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Postage stamps
    Object Type
    Postage stamps (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Postage stamp, denomination 10 mark.
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The postage stamp was donated to the United States Holocaust Museum in 2006 by Stanley A. Baker, the son of Ross 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:
    2022-07-28 18:26:17
    This page:

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