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Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 50 pfennig note

Object | Accession Number: 2003.413.31

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    Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 50 pfennig note


    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 50 pfennig, distributed in Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto. The Jewish Council was ordered to create a system of Quittungen (receipts) that could be used as currency only in the ghetto. Valuables and currency were forcibly exchanged for the scrip and it was used as modest payment for forced laborers, though it held no value outside the ghetto. Ignacy Gutman designed all the denominations of the paper scrip and they were printed by the Manitius Printing House. The coins were designed by Pinkus Szwarc and minted in the ghetto by inmates. The Łódź ghetto was the only German ghetto or concentration camp that minted coinage. The scrip was issued in the German-controlled ghetto from June of 1940 to its liquidation in the fall of 1944. The scrip, sometimes referred to as rumki or chaimki, after the Elder of the Judenrat, Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski and was issued in denominations of: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 mark notes; 5, 10, and 20 mark coins; and 50 pfennig notes and 10 pfennig coins.
    issue:  1940 June-1944 August
    issue: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joel Forman
    front, center, printed, black ink : Quittung / ÜBER / 50 PFENNIG / DER AELTESTEDER JUDEN IN LITZMANNSTADT M. Rumkowski / Litzmannstadt, DEN 15 MAI 1940 [The Elder of the Jews in Litzmannstadt M. Rumkowski / Litzmannstadt, 15 May 1940]
    front, upper right corner, printed, purple ink : 50
    front, lower left corner, printed, purple ink : 50
    reverse, top center, printed, black ink : QUITTUNG ÜBER / FÜNFZIG PFENNIG [Receipt for Fifty Pfennig]
    reverse, upper left corner, printed, black ink : 50
    reverse, upper right corner, printed, black ink : 50
    reverse, bottom center, printed, black ink : WER DIESE QUITTUNG VERFÄLSCHT / ODER NACHMACHT 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]
    Designer: Ignacy Gutman
    Printer: Manitius Printing Office
    Issuer: Der Aelteste der Juden in Litzmannstadt
    Ignacy Gutman (1900- 1972) was born in Łódź, Poland, to Samuel (Szmul, 1862-1925) and Anna (Chana, 1868- 1936) nee Leder. In 1919, Ignacy volunteered to fight for Poland during the Polish–Soviet War. Afterward, he attended the University of Warsaw and graduated from their architecture program in 1927. In 1930, Ignacy married Sabina Stambulska, (1905-1987) a teacher, and the couple had a daughter, Monika (1932-?). Ignacy designed several modernist houses and buildings in Łódź, and was a co-owner of the architectural firm I. Gutman, L. Oli Architects, from 1935 to 1939.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. One week later, the German army occupied Łódź, renamed the city Litzmannstadt, and immediately instigated violence and anti-Semitic policies. Jews were no longer allowed to walk on sidewalks, and were often assaulted when they walked in the streets. They were forced to turn their valuables over to the authorities, and those suspected of not complying were beaten and tortured. On February 8, 1940, the Łódź ghetto was established in the older, poorer part of the city, and Ignacy and his family were forcibly relocated inside. In March and April, the Germans encircled the ghetto with a barbed wire and wood fence. Armed guards and dogs were stationed around the perimeter with orders to shoot Jews that approached the fence.

    While in the ghetto, Ignacy was a director of the Building Department, and arranged for his daughter to work with him in the department. Ignacy was tasked by his friend, Judenrat Chairman, Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, to design the paper scrip (currency) that would be used in the ghetto. He completed his designs in early 1940. The scrip was printed in May and issued in the ghetto in June. The Germans ordered the Jews to exchange their remaining valuables for ghetto currency, and used it as a modest payment for their forced labor. In October, the Nazis established workshops where Jews labored 10-14 hours a day in overcrowded and poorly ventilated conditions to pay back their debt for living in the ghetto. From January to September 1942, German authorities deported over 70,000 Jews to Chelmno killing center.

    In August 1944, in response to advancing Soviet forces, the Germans began transporting the remaining Jews out of the ghetto, primarily to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. During this time, Ignacy built a bunker where he and his family hid to avoid the deportations. He was selected for the cleaning squad, a group of prisoners who confiscated materials and valuables out of the ghetto after the other prisoners had been deported. While in hiding, Ignacy contracted tuberculosis. However, he was able to survive until the ghetto was liberated by the Soviets in January 1945.

    After the war, Ignacy and his family stayed in Łódź, and he spent two years in sanatorium recovering from his illness. After his recovery, Ignacy worked as an architect at the Central Management of the Clothing Industry and at the City Design Office. He designed the Jewish Theatre, Public City Library, and Łódź Municipality. On February, 1958, Ignacy and his family immigrated to Israel on the SS Herzl.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Lodz ghetto scrip printed on lightweight, rectangular, off-white paper. The face has a light blue latticework underprint and a background pattern of purple interlocking Stars of David. The center features a purple 7-branched menorah overlaid with the denomination and German text above and below. The numerical denomination is within a purple square in the upper right and lower left corners, and a Star of David within a purple square is in the upper left and lower right corners. The reverse has a background of interlocked, purple Stars of David with two lines of German text along the top, flanked by the numerical denomination in the upper corners. Stamped centrally in orange ink is the serial number with four lines of small, black German text below. The note is worn and faded with several creases and wrinkles throughout, in addition to a vertical wrinkle in the center.
    overall: Height: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Width: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm)
    overall : paper, ink
    reverse, lower center, stamped, red ink : No 300973

    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 15:33:34
    This page:

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