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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 10 kronen note, issued to a German Jewish inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2004.566.3

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 10 kronen note, issued to a German Jewish inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 10 kronen, obtained by 17 year old Ursula Lenneberg in 1943 while an inmate of Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Ursula considered this fake money produced to fool the Red Cross that camp conditions were decent and healthy. Ursula received a deportation notice in July 1942 in Dusseldorf, Germany, where she lived with her family. They insisted on going with her to the camp. Her father Otto and brother Walter, 12, were allowed, but her mother, Lina, born a Christian, was not. In Theresienstadt in summer 1944, Otto received a deportation notice and Ursula insisted that she and Walter go with him. They were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Otto and Walter were sent to the gas chambers upon arrival. Around January 1945, Ursula was selected for forced labor at a linen factory in Merzdorf, Poland. The camp was abandoned by the guards the day the Russians arrived in April. Ursula and five friends were given bicycles by a soldier and decided to go to Prague. Only Ursula and Buschi were able to continue after reaching the Czech border. They biked 500 miles through bombed out terrain and in six weeks reached Lippborg, Germany, where Ursula had family. She was reunited there with her mother Lina. They emigrated to the United States in 1947.
    issue:  1943 January 01
    received:  1943-1944 September
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ursula Lenneberg Pawel
    face, lower right corner, black ink : 10
    reverse, upper left, plate letter and number, black ink : A014
    reverse, lower left and upper right corner, blue ink : 10
    reverse, center, black and 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: Ursula L. Pawel
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Ursula Lenneberg was born on April 24, 1926, in Dortmund, Germany, but raised in Aplerbeck. Her father, Otto, was Jewish and her mother, Caroline (Lina) Schneider, was originally Protestant. Caroline was born in Dortmund and had two sisters and a brother Konrad. Otto was born in Dusseldorf to an assimilated Jewish couple, Adolf and Amalie Lenneberg, with an older brother Erich, and a sister Else. Otto was general manager of Karstadt department store and Lina was the buyer for women and children’s clothing. They married in 1925 and Lina converted to Judaism. Her family was much more accepting of the marriage than Otto’s. Ursula’s brother Walter was born in September 1930. The family was well off, and had a live-in maid.
    In 1933, the Nazi dictatorship assumed power and policies to persecute Jews were instituted in Germany. Her father lost his job because the store was Aryanized and purged of all Jewish employees. He purchased a store from a Jewish man who was leaving the country. Some of Ursula’s playmates at school told her they could no longer play with her. In 1934, she had to leave public school to attend a Jewish school. In September 1935, the Nuremberg Race laws made it illegal for Jews and non-Jews to marry or to have intimate relations. In 1936, Ursula’s family moved from Aplerbeck, which was very antisemitic, to Dusseldorf. Her father opened a dry goods business and her mother became forelady at the Schreyeck’s belt factory. Ursula attended a private Jewish school. The family got an affidavit from a relative in Chicago and was placed on waiting list for US visas. Around 1937-38, her father’s business was confiscated and he was sent to do compulsory labor service in Tiefbau. The Protestant minister at her grandmother’s church was taken away by the Gestapo during a Sunday sermon for preaching tolerance. In 1938, a US consulate employee invalidated their affidavit. They tried to get visas for Uruguay and lost a great deal of money to a swindler. During the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, Ursula’s school and synagogue were burned. By 1941-42, all their valuable possessions had been confiscated by the Gestapo. Their identification was marked with a red J and they had to wear Star of David badges. Ursula was taunted on the streets by League of German Girls members. Her mother was ordered to the police station several times by the head of the local Gestapo, Herr Puetz, who harangued her to divorce Otto, but she refused.
    In July 1942, Ursula received a notice of deportation to a labor camp. Her family insisted on going with her. Her father and brother were added to the transport, but the Germans refused to allow her mother to go. They were taken to Theresienstadt ghetto/labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Otto said he was a carpenter when they arrived and he was able to steal wood from work to trade to the cooks for more food. Ursula, 16, volunteered to work, and was assigned as a caretaker to the youth barracks, first L410, then 414. Her father talked to her about her mother every day. Her paternal grandmother died in the camp the first year. There were clandestine classes and concerts and Walter was in the choir and was bar mitzvahed. Her mother sent packages which Ursula shared with the children in her care. She gave the vitamins and extra food to Herbert Blau, brother of Trude, who was ill with TB. One day in October 1943, everyone was herded out of the barracks to the Bauschowtiz basin. They were told they were being punished because the elders had given the wrong inmate count. They had to stand at attention for hours in the rain guarded by SS with machine guns as other guards beat and screamed at them. Then they were returned to the barracks which had been torn apart and searched. Transports left the camp continuously. Otto was transferred out of Terezin for several weeks in 1943 to build bunkers in Berlin. He was a changed man when he returned and Ursula later thought this was because he had learned of the death camps. Ursula witnessed the preparation for the Red Cross visit of May 1944 and the children she cared for were featured in the film made by Kurt Gerron. Afterwards, the transports left in even larger numbers.
    In summer 1944, Ursula was with Otto when he was given a notice of deportation to a labor camp near Dresden, Germany. She convinced him that she and Walter must accompany him. On September 30, 1944, they left by train but were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ursula was separated from her father and brother. As she marched along a road, a woman came outside the nearby barracks and yelled a name toward the line and was shot by a guard. Ursula was taken to a sauna, stripped and shaved all over, as a line of SS men along the wall jeered. She was given clogs and a dirty dress, prison number 67269, and placed in Camp C. The next day, a prisoner, Hirschfeld from Theresienstadt, who was in the detail picking up dead bodies, told his wife to tell Ursula that her father and brother were dead. The adjacent barracks housed Hungarian women, longtime inmates referred to as Musselman, inmates near death who resembled living skeletons. During one selection, one of the Hungarians ran into their barracks. She told the newcomers details of how those too weak to work were sent to the gas chambers. Ursula survived by living inward, so that what happened outside her, somehow didn’t touch her inside.
    Around January 1945, Ursula had to strip for a work selection and was chosen for a factory detail. She was taken to another camp, with mostly non-Jewish Polish women, and shared a bunk with two girls, Zdena from Prague and Buschi (Hilde Freudenberg), from Amsterdam. The women then were transported west by cattle car to Kudowa-Sackisch to work in an airplane factory. They were able to take hot showers with soap and had blankets and edible food. At roll call the next day, the factory manager announced that no one with glasses could work in the factory; they would be returned to Auschwitz. Ursula and Zdena wore glasses, as did three others, and, for some reason, Buschi, who did not, was told to go with them. They were taken to a rail trestle lined with sick prisoners. Two young SS guards put the six girls alone in the last car. When the train stopped at Merzdorf, the soldiers told them to jump off and took them to the Kamste, Mettner, and Frahne linen factory. The guards got the commandant, Ann Rinke, who screamed to take the girls back to Auschwitz, but the soldiers saluted her and left. Ursula and her friends worked outdoors in transport. The closeknit group supported each other. Those in the factory stole flax used to make chest, feet, and hand warmers and the outside girls scavenged for food.
    One day in late spring 1945, there was a lot of commotion at night. The next morning their door was unlocked by a German soldier who told them they were free. The Soviet Army arrived that afternoon. A soldier gave them bicycles and they decided to bike to Prague. At the Czech border, only Buschi and Ursula were able to continue. They headed to Lippborg where Ursula’s aunt lived and where she and her parents had agreed to meet if they were separated. They bicycled over 500 miles through bombed out Europe in 6 weeks and upon arrival in Lippborg, Ursula saw her mother Lina in the street.
    Lina had moved to Lippborg to escape the Gestapo. After her family was deported, Herr Puetz came nearly weekly to interview Caroline and her employers, the Schreyeck’s. Mr. Schreyeck arranged with his brother in Vienna to shield her from the police. One day when Caroline was ill and not at work, the Gestapo came to the Vienna factory looking for her. Schreyeck called and told her to leave immediately for Kleve, where a third brother had a tannery. When Kleve was under heavy allied bombing, the Schreyeck’s told her she would be safer with her sister in Lippborg. Soon after she left, their house was hit by a bomb. Lina’s youngest sister had been sent to a labor camp for criticizing the Nazi regime. Most of Otto’s family perished in the Holocaust. His sister Else died in Stuffhof in December 1944 and her daughter Ilsa perished in Łódź Ghetto.
    In 1947, after settling at Deggendorf displaced persons camp, Ursula and Lina were assisted by UNRRA, AJDC, and HIAS to emigrate to the US on the SS Ernie Pyle. The American Joint Distribution Committee helped them settle in Boston. In 1948, Ursula met Hans Pawel, a survivor from Germany whose parents, Dr. Emil and Olga Neman Pawel, were killed in the camps. After six weeks, the couple married. They had two sons. Two weeks after Ursula married, Lina wed Siegmund Bruenell, a fellow survivor who was also deported from Dusseldorf to Theresienstadt. Prior to the war Siegmund was married to Hertha and they had two children, Hannelore and Herbert, who perished during the war. Ursula wrote a memoir of her experiences and has participated in many programs to educate people about the Holocaust.
    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 with a graphic design on the face in black and blue ink on a blue patterned background. On the left is a medallion with an image of Moses holding 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments in Hebrew characters; to the right is the denomination 10 and German text. On the right side is a wide, offwhite border with the denomination 10 in the bottom corner below a 6-pointed Star of David. The reverse has a blue geometric background design with a central purple streak, German text, a 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 the denomination 10 in the lower corner below a 6-pointed Star of David. The plate letter and number A014 are in the upper left corner.
    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 Ursula Lenneberg Pawel.
    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 18:29:49
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