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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 10 kronen note, acquired by a former inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2004.385.2

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 10 kronen note, acquired by a former inmate

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    Brief Narrative
    Theresienstadt scrip for 10 kronen given to Gisela Eckstein, a former inmate of the camp by another former inmate. Currency was confiscated upon entry and scrip was distributed per a 5-tier rating based on status or employment or received for conscript labor while in camp. Gisela, age 14, her parents, Berthold and Bertha, and her brother Norbert, age 12, were deported from Battenberg, Germany, to Ghetto Theresienstadt in September 1942. The family was transported in August 1944 to Auschwitz concentration camp where Gisela was separated from them and sent to Birkenau concentration camp. In October, she was shipped to Maerzdorf where she worked as slave labor in a linen factory. The camp was liberated by Soviet troops on May 8, 1945. Gisela was hospitalized for many months after the war. She had no surviving relatives in Europe, but a maternal uncle was discovered in the US. She emigrated to New York in March 1947.
    issue:  1943 January 01
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gisela E. Zamora
    face, lower right corner, black ink : 10
    reverse, upper left corner, plate letter and number, black ink : A012
    reverse, lower left and upper right corner, blue ink : 10
    reverse, center, blue ink : Quittung / über / ZEHN KRONEN / THERESIENSTADT, AM 1.JANNER 1943 DER ALTESTE DER JUDEN / IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein [Receipt / of / TEN CROWNS / THERESIENSTADT, ON 1. JANUARY 1943 THE ELDER OF THE JEWS IN THERESIENSTADT Jakob Edelstein]
    Subject: Gisela E. Zamora
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Gisela Bina Eckstein was born on February 5, 1928, in Battenberg, Germany, to Berthold and Bertha Marx Eckstein. Berthold was born on January 28, 1893, in Friedberg to Moses and Hanna Blumenthal Eckstein. Berthold was one of twelve children. He was an officer in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918), was wounded in the right shoulder, and awarded the Iron Cross. Bertha was born on March 29, 1895, in Battenberg to Moses and Beena Neuburger Marx. Bertha had three brothers and two sisters and her family had lived in the area for three generations. Moses owned a shoe business. Berthold and Bertha married in 1926 and settled in Battenberg. Berthold worked as an agronomist for the Hesse-Nassau provincial government. Gisela had one brother, Norbert, born in 1929. Bertha observed Jewish laws and kept kosher, but Berthold did not because of his job.
    The Nazi government came to power in 1933. Battenberg had a Nazi Party mayor and the family increasingly experienced anti-Semitism. Gisela and Norbert had to sit in the back row at school with the Roma children. Romani boys exposed themselves to Gisela and a non-Jewish student told the teacher, who did nothing. Her non-Jewish friends were forbidden to talk to her and she was afraid to sleep because a neighbor threw stones through the windows. Berthold lost his job because he was Jewish. He took over Moses’ business, but it was difficult to maintain as Jewish businesses were boycotted. They survived on money from Bertha’s sister and brother. The family attempted to emigrate to the United States, but their applications were rejected because of Berthold’s war disability
    In 1937, the family moved to Friedberg which was a larger, more liberal town. Gisela and Norbert attended the Jewish District School in the nearby town, Bad Nauheim. During the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, Berthold was arrested and deported to Buchenwald concentration camp. Gisela and Norbert hid in the attic. The family’s porcelain, crystal and furniture were thrown out of the windows by vandals. Berthold was released after four weeks. His older brother, Jakob, was killed in Buchenwald. In 1939, their school was closed. Gisela was placed in a children’s home in Frankfurt am Main and attended the Philanthropin School, a preparatory school for Cambridge University in England. Norbert was sent to live with their paternal aunt in Dusseldorf. Gisela later lived with the Linz family, whose housekeeper, Ms. Loewenstein, was from Battenberg. Gisela often traveled via train to visit her family. She had to wear a Star of David badge and sit in a separate car for Jews. In 1941, German authorities confiscated the Linz’s home and closed all Jewish schools. Gisela and Norbert moved back with their parents and Gisela worked washing floors in an old age home.
    In September 1942, the family was taken to a transit center in Darmstadt where they were selected for Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. They were sent there and not further east because of Berthold’s military service. Berthold’s brother and his family were also in the transit camp. Berthold tried to get them sent to Theresienstadt, but they were deported to the east. After arrival in Terezin, the family was placed in the Hannover barracks with the Jewish intelligentsia and other professionals. The illustrator, Jo Spier, lived in the barracks and Gisela became friends with his daughter, Celine. She also became friends with the pianist, Sylvia Lowenstein, who gave Gisela tickets to her concerts. Berthold became a minor official of the Judenrat [Jewish council] and transferred Gisela to children’s barrack L414. Her supervisor, Ita Heumann, was a prominent Zionist and Judaic scholar. The children played games, celebrated the Jewish holidays. and studied Palestinian history. Everyone had to work in the camp. One summer, Gisela worked in a garden outside of the ghetto and sometimes smuggled vegetables back to her parents. During the winter, she worked in the nursery washing diapers in cold water. She contracted a cyst and pustules from the bedbugs. Norbert contracted typhus and was quarantined. In June 1944, the camp was prepared for an inspection by the International Red Cross and Gisela received new clothing.
    In August, Berthold was transferred to another camp with a group of younger men. In September, the families of the deported men were told that they could join them. They were not told the destination and, in September, they were transported to Auschwitz death camp. During processing, Gisela was separated from Bertha and Norbert and sent to Birkenau. She shared a bunk with her friend from Friedburg, Ruth Wertheim. Gisela became increasingly ill. She suffered from severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough.
    In October 1944, Gisela was deported to Maerzdorf labor camp, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen, in German-occupied Poland. She was not initially selected, but her friend pulled her in line. Before she left, a friend, Ruth Hershkowitz, gave her a loaf of bread. She was transferred with her friends Ruth Wertheim and Hannelore Praeger. She worked on the fourth floor of the Kramsda Mehner and Frahne linen factory making parachutes from flax. The machines caused her hands to bleed and develop sores. At night, she shoveled coal from wagons. They slept in a Quonset hut on top of the factory. The heat from the machinery provided warmth and hot water. Gisela contracted tuberculosis, pleurisy, and mastitis and was placed in the sick bay in March 1945. A German medic, Dr. Hoffman, made incisions to drain the cyst that relieved some of the pain. French prisoners of war interned in a nearby camp said that the Soviet Army was close and that the Germans might blow the camp up. At the beginning of May, the German guards left and the prisoners were locked in the camp. On May 8, 1945, the prisoners saw a Soviet soldier on a bicycle and, shortly afterward, the Soviet Army liberated the camp.
    Gisela recovered for five weeks in a hospital in Hirschberg an der Bergstrasse, Germany. She was released in June and a Soviet officer gave her a document that allowed her to travel to Friedburg. She went to the home of a family friend, Edgar Maurer, who was not Jewish, but was antifascist and married to a Jewish woman. His wife, Trudi was killed in Bergen-Belsen and Edgar had recently returned from Dachau. He invited Gisela to live with him, his son, Rudi, and housekeeper, Meta Euler. Edgar took her to a hospital in Bad Nauheim where she was treated for several months. Gisela learned that her parents and brother had been killed in Auschwitz upon arrival. She next was admitted to the hospital in Feldafing displaced persons camp and then to a DP hospital in Bad Kohlgrub. An American soldier helped her place an advertisement in a German-Jewish newspaper seeking relatives. Her maternal uncle, Louis Marx, contacted her and provided papers for her to emigrate to the United States. She sailed on the SS Marine Flasher and Louis met her in New York on March 17, 1947. She later met another survivor, Joseph Zamora and they wed on August 18, 1952. Joseph was born in Greiz, Germany, and fled illegally to Yugoslavia in 1940 with his father. In 1941, they escaped to the Italian zone, but in 1944 they were captured and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Joseph was transferred to Buna subcamp and escaped from a death march in March 1945. His father died in the camp. Joseph passed away on July 8, 2001, age 80.
    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

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Theresienstadt scrip printed on rectangular, offwhite paper in black and blue ink. On the face is 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 10 and German text. The background rectangle has an abstract star pattern. On the right side is a wide, offwhite border with 10 in the bottom corner below a Star of David. The reverse has a background rectangle with a repeating oval pattern, with a central purple streak, overprinted with German text, an engraved signature, and a scrollwork line. The denomination 10 is in the upper right corner. The left side has a wide, off-white border with 10 in the lower corner below a 6-pointed Star of David in a lined circle. The plate letter and number are in the upper left corner. Paper remnants are adhered to the back corners, adhesive tape to the edges, with a deep center crease.
    overall: Height: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Width: 5.000 inches (12.7 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 Theresienstadt scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Gisela Eckstein Zamora.
    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:
    2022-08-23 10:28:30
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