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Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 1 mark note

Object | Accession Number: 2007.45.65

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    Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 1 mark note

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    1 mark note receipt created in the Łódź ghetto and recovered from the ghetto by Malwina (Inka) Gerson and her parents, Dora and Gustav. When the Germans transferred Jews to the ghetto, they confiscated all currency in exchange for Quittungen [receipts] that could be spent only inside the ghetto. The scrip was designed by the Judenrat [Jewish Council] and includes traditional Jewish symbols. After the German occupation of Poland in 1939, 11 year old Inka and her family were forced into the Jewish ghetto in Łódź, which was renamed Litzmannstadt by the Germans. All ghetto inhabitants over the age of 10 had to work and Inka worked in a hat-making workshop. The Germans destroyed the ghetto in July 1944 and Inka's family was part of the work detail kept to clean up and salvage materials from the ghetto and to dig mass graves. The Allen family avoided the subsequent deportations to concentration camps and were still living in the ghetto when the city was liberated by the Russian Army in early 1945. The family left Poland for Bolivia in 1945.
    Date
    issue:  1940 May 15
    found:  1944
    Geography
    issue: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    found: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Malwina "Inka" Gerson Allen
    Markings
    face, serial number, red ink : Nº 1654574
    face, upper right, black ink : Quittung / über [Receipt for about]
    face, center, bold font, black ink : Eine Mark [One Mark]
    face, bottom, black ink : Der Aelteste der Juden / in Litzmannstadt / M. Rumkowski / Litzmannstadt , den 15 Mai 1940 [The Eldest of the Jews / M. Rumkowski / on May 15, 1940]
    back, black ink : Quittung / über / Eine Mark [Receipt for about one mark]
    back, bottom, black 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]
    Contributor
    Subject: Malwina "Inka" Gerson Allen
    Biography
    Malwina (Inka) Gerson was born on March 17,1929, in Łódź, Poland, to Gustav and Dora Stillerman Gerson. Gustav’s parents were from Latvia, but he was born in Warsaw, and raised in Łódź. He had three younger siblings, Leon, Gerda, and Wila. Dora’s parents were from Belarus; she was born in Łódź and had a brother, Samuel (Mula). Dora’s family moved to Moscow when World War I began in 1914; her father died about 1918 and the family returned to Poland in the 1920s. Dora and Gustav met on the train ride back to Łódź. Gustav had been in Moscow since 1914, where he attended business school. They married in Łódź on April 7, 1925. Gustav was a textile engineer and manufacturer of high quality cotton fabrics in Łódź. Dora helped him with the business. The family lived a cultured, middle class life, and spoke Polish, Russian, and German at home. There was a nanny and then a governess for Inka, who attended a private girl’s school.

    The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and Łódź was soon occupied. Dora's brother, Samuel, fled to Lvov (Lviv, Ukraine) with his family, and Gustav's brother, Leo, went to Warsaw with his wife, Marysia. The Germans soon put in place regulations to restrict and persecute Jews. They were not allowed to travel in certain parts of the city, attend public schools, and they had to wear yellow Star of David badges on their outer clothing. In November, the Gersons were evicted from their home and most of their possessions were taken by the Germans. In January 1940, Inka, her parents, and her maternal grandmother, Bertha Stillerman, who lived with them, were forced to move to the sealed ghetto. They lived in a single room, without running water and very little heat. After 1941, they no longer received any mail from relatives outside the ghetto. For the first year, Inka attended the ghetto school. There were classes in Hebrew and Judaism, but any subjects relating to Poland were forbidden. Soon the school was closed and twelve year old Inka had to work. Her first job was in the hat division where she made belts and artificial flowers; next, she worked in the knitting division making large, elaborate tablecloths and sweaters, and macramé bags. Her mother worked in the office of the rag sorting workshop and her father managed Central Purchasing, where ghetto inhabitants could sell their belongings for ghetto scrip. Living conditions grew steadily worse and disease and illness from lack of food were widespread. In 1942, Inka and her mother were ill with typhus and Inka’s grandmother died.

    During the summer of 1944, the Germans decided to liquidate the ghetto and deport the inhabitants to Auschwitz. A small crew of approximately 900 residents was retained to sort the remaining belongings for shipment to Germany. Since Gustav was fluent in German, as well as a trained textile engineer, the Germans told him to stay. Inka and Dora were allowed to remain with him. People were divided into work groups and there were daily roll calls. At first, the women went through abandoned apartments, packing up reusable items, while the men dismantled workshops. Later, everyone worked packing up goods. The gates were locked at night. At some point, the inmates were ordered to dig mass graves at the Jewish cemetery, which they took as a sign that the Germans were planning to execute everyone. By this time, the Soviet Army was advancing quickly toward the city. One evening, word spread that the executions were planned for the next day. The camp overseers managed to keep the gates unlocked and told everyone to flee and hide. Inka and her parents found a small, dilapidated wooden house and hid there for a few days. They could hear fighting, as well as the German troops searching for hidden Jews. Then all became quiet. Gustav decided to go out and look, and the next thing Inka remembers is her friend, Janka Weinberg (now Raplewska), running up the stairs screaming: “Why are you still sitting here, the Russians are here and we are saved!" The ghetto was liberated on January 17, 1945.
    Dora met two cousins who were serving with the Russian army and, through them, cabled Bolivia to tell Gustav’s sisters that they had survived. Prior to the war, his sister, Gerda, had married Dr. Robert Herzenberg, who had emigrated to Bolivia in 1929, and was head of the Hochschild Mines analytical chemistry laboratory. His other sister had joined them there before the war. The Gersons remained in Łódź for the next year and a half, making preparations to emigrate to Bolivia. When their belongings were taken by the Germans, Dora had given some jewelry to their Polish housekeeper, Klementyna, for safekeeping. She returned these items to them after the war. Gustav got a job in a textile factory. They learned that Gustav’s brother, Leo, and his wife had perished. Dora's brother, Mula, was killed in Budapest on the last day of the occupation, but his wife, Betty, and daughter, Janka, survived and emigrated to Israel.

    Dora worked for Dr. Philip Friedman, who was investigating German anti-Jewish atrocities and also for TOZ, a health and welfare organization. Inka returned to school when it reopened in February. In June 1946, the family left for Sweden, and after a few months, sailed to Bolivia via England and Panama. Inka finished high school in Bolivia and attended a local technical college until her uncle arranged for her to go to MIT to continue her studies. Inka left Bolivia in September 1949. She met Steven Allen (originally Margulies), born in Vienna, whose family escaped Austria in 1940, at MIT where they obtained doctorates: Inka in chemistry, Steve in metallurgy. They married in 1951 and had two children. Inka became a college chemistry professor. Steve died on April 12, 2012, age 84.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Category
    Money
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Offwhite paper scrip printed in green ink with black text. The face has a background latticework pattern. The denomination 1 is in the lower right corner in bold font. There is a 1 inch right margin, then a rectangle with a border of barbed wire interspersed with Stars of David. The inside has a background of interlocked Jewish stars with a large star in a circle in the upper left corner and a smaller one in the center of the right side border. Across the center is the denomination and other German text. The serial number in red ink replaces the upper right border. The back has a blank background with the denomination 1 in bold font in the lower left corner. There is a 1 inch left margin, then a rectangle with a border of barbed wire interspersed with Stars of David. The inside has 2 sets of 8 concentric rings with the numerical denomination in the center. A banner with the textual denomination connects the rings. The banner crosses over a 7-branched candelabrum in the center, with German text above and below.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Width: 4.750 inches (12.065 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 2007 by Malwina "Inka" Gerson Allen.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:11:26
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn518860

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