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Westerbork transit camp voucher, 100 cent note

Object | Accession Number: 2003.413.14

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    Westerbork transit camp voucher, 100 cent note


    Brief Narrative
    Voucher, valued at 100 cents, distributed in Westerbork transit camp. While at the camp, inmates were compelled to work, and a special currency was issued to incentivize work output, but the money had no real monetary value outside the camp. Westerbork was established by the Dutch government in October 1939, for Jewish refugees who had crossed the border illegally following the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938. After Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, the German authorities began using Westerbork as a transit camp, holding internees until they were deported to forced labor camps or killing centers in other countries. Westerbork was under the authority of a German commandant, Albert Gemmeker, but run and supplied by the Jewish Community. Deportations from Westerbork began in February 1941. Inmates could occasionally purchase small supplies from the camp canteen, but food was not available. The special currency was first distributed in 1944, and designed by Werner Löwenhardt, a Jewish artist who was imprisoned by the Germans in Westerbork from October 1942, until the camp was liberated in April 1945. The front design features a large chimney from the camp laundry and a street known as the Boulevard of Misery. The back design again features the chimney, in addition to a large, toothed spur gear. Both images support an illusion of an industrious camp as well as the hopelessness of inevitable deportation.
    issue:  1944 February 15-1945 April 12
    issue: Westerbork (Concentration camp); Westerbork (Netherlands)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joel Forman
    front, upper left and lower right, printed, black ink : 100 / CENT
    front, upper center, printed, black ink : LAGER / WESTERBORK / GUTSCHEIN [Camp / Westerbork / Coupon]
    back, center, printed, white : 100
    back, lower left, printed, black ink : LAGER WESTERBORK. / 15 FEBRUAR 1944 [Camp Westerbork / 15 February 1944]
    back, center, printed, black ink : DIESER GUTSCHEIN / IST NUR INNERHALB / DES LAGERS GÜLTIG [This coupon is only valid within the camp]
    back, lower right, printed, black ink : DER LAGERKOMMANDANT: / AK Gemmeker / SS OBERSTURMFÜHRER [Camp commander / AK Gemmeker / SS First Lieutenant]
    Designer: Werner Löwenhardt
    Werner Löwenhardt (1919-2006) was born in Dortmund, Germany to Adolf (1883-1944) and Julia (nee ten Brink, 1890-1944) Löwenhardt. He had one older brother, Heinz (1913-1989). Adolf’s large extended family also lived in Dortmund, while Julia’s family lived in the Netherlands. Adolf and his eight brothers served for Germany in World War I, and after being wounded, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for his distinguished service as a medic. Adolf was a butcher in Dortmund, and while he was serving in the war, Julia ran the shop and took care of Heinz. Following World War I, Dortmund was occupied by French forces until 1927. Both Heinz and Werner attended the public elementary school across the street from their home. After primary school, both brothers attended the Hindenburg Gymnasium, a local secondary school that included the study of French, Latin, Greek, and English.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Under Hitler, authorities quickly began suppressing the rights and personal freedoms of Jews, and boycotting their businesses. In March, the boycott of Jewish businesses reached Dortmund. By August, Adolf and Julia were forced to sell their butcher shop to a non-Jew. Adolf was able to continue working as a meat distributor in the city’s slaughterhouse. Despite the increasing antisemitism in Dortmund, Werner’s family was never personally attacked.

    Like his father, Heinz was apprenticing to become a butcher, which he fully qualified for in April 1935. Antisemitism and restrictions continued to grow, and that September, the Nazis announced the Nuremberg laws, which excluded Jews from citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having relations with non-Jews. Heinz moved to Enschede, Netherlands, where he worked in the Jewish butcher shop run by an aunt and uncle. Shortly afterwards, Werner wrote to the same aunt, asking if he could work for her as a draftsman. On November 2, 1935, Werner joined his brother, aunt, and uncle in Enschede, a town located close to the German border. He soon moved out on his own, and found work with the lithography and printing company, C. Kappers while working on his own independent projects. In 1936, Werner began taking an evening course at the local craft school and took lessons from a painter, Gerard van Haeften.

    Adolf and Julia left Germany in the summer of 1936, settling in Goor, Netherlands. They joined their sons in Enschede in 1938. Enschede had a well-organized Jewish community of 1400 when Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Under German occupation, the Netherlands became subject to the Nuremburg laws; restrictions continued to tighten, and antisemitism grew. In March 1941, Werner was required to register as a Jew with the city administration. That same year, the German authorities began forcing Jewish men into labor camps, and in April 1942, Dutch Jews were required to start wearing a yellow Star of David. Heinz and his fiancée went into hiding in Almelo, a town about 30 kilometers from Enschede, where they remained for the duration of the war. In August 1942, Adolf and Werner were imprisoned in ‘t Schut labor camp, where they had to do heavy earth work. On October 3, the laborers of ‘t Schut were transferred to Westerbork transit camp. Although Julia had the opportunity to go into hiding, she chose to reunite with Adolf and Werner, and they were later joined by much of their extended family. In Westerbork, Werner met siblings Lilo and Paul Hirsch, his future wife and brother-in-law.

    At the time, Westerbork was under the authority of a German commandant, but effectively run and supplied by the Jewish Community. Consequently, the living conditions were better than many other camps. They had schools, medical care, and some cultural outlets such as a theater and an orchestra. Inmates could occasionally purchase small supplies from the camp canteen, but extra food was not available. The names for the weekly deportation lists were selected at random, but those with official positions in the camp’s administration, such as Werner, were somewhat protected. Using his art skills, Werner got a job as one of four men in the commandant’s statistics office, where he drew statistical charts and figures. In 1944, Werner created a logo for Westerbork’s industrial department, which the German administration used for a new camp currency. He was given a bicycle and a pass to leave the camp to complete drawings of the local area and of the field service. Werner met and learned from other artists and photographers interned in Westerbork.

    While Werner’s position in the commandant’s office kept him off the deportation lists, the safety did not extend to the rest of his family. On April 21, 1943, Adolf and Julia were deported on transport XXIV.1 to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. A few months later, a group of young people, including Werner, was given the option to join their parents. Werner chose to stay in Westerbork. Adolf and Julia were imprisoned in Theresienstadt until October 9, 1944, when they were both deported on transport Ep to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in Poland. They were both killed upon arrival.

    In early April 1945, the Germans abandoned Westerbork ahead of the arrival of Allied forces. Werner was among 876 inmates liberated by the Canadian army on April 12, 1945. The Dutch Military Authority took charge of the camp, and the prisoners were forced to remain there for a few more months. Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 7, 1945. Werner was finally released from Westerbork on June 30, and returned immediately to his home in Enschede. After the war, he settled in Amsterdam, started his own advertising studio, and founded an advertising archive. Werner married Lilo Hirsch (1923-2012) in 1947 and they had a daughter, Anita, who would later become chairwoman of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Westerbork scrip printed on rectangular, white paper with a green basketweave background overlaid with black text and graphic designs. The face has a square in each corner and two center rectangles, all outlined in black. The denomination is printed in the upper left and lower right squares. The upper rectangle has three lines of text and the lower rectangle has a faint drawing of the camp featuring the tall laundry chimneys and barracks. A wave-patterned border is present along the top of the top upper left square, bottom of the lower right square, and beneath the text in the upper rectangle. The back has the same green basketweave background with an outlined square in both upper corners. There is a narrow rectangle with a spiral line pattern in both lower corners. At the center is an underprint of the denomination. Across the top center is a narrow, silhouetted image of the camp skyline inserted through the center of a large, circular, toothed, spur gear, with a serial letter and number stamped below. German text, an issue date, and a signature are printed along the bottom. There is slight staining overall, particularly around the edges, and a vertical center crease.
    overall: Height: 2.375 inches (6.032 cm) | Width: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm)
    overall : paper, ink
    back, center, stamped, black ink : Serie AA No. 4157 [Serial]
    back, center, bottom edge, stamped, black ink : K 1227

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Joel Forman.
    Record last modified:
    2022-09-20 14:51:32
    This page:

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