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German Prisoner of War Camp general issue currency, kriegsgefangenen lagergeld, 1 Reichspfennig

Object | Accession Number: 2003.413.43

German prisoner of war (POW) currency, called kriegsgfangenen lagergeld (war cash), valued at 1 Reichspfennig, distributed to prisoners held in German POW camps from 1939 to 1944. The currency was issued in seven denominations: 1, 10, and 50 Reichspfennig and 1, 2, 5, and 10 Reichsmark. After the beginning of World War II in September, 1939, Nazi Germany established a network of approximately 75 POW camps to house the enemy soldiers they captured across Europe. A prisoner’s treatment inside the camps varied depending on their nationality. Due to the Nazi belief that Soviet prisoners were racially and politically inferior, they were starved and treated brutally, resulting in millions of deaths. However, for Western Allied prisoners, life inside the camps was tough but generally fair, as Germany, with some exceptions, usually followed the Geneva Convention Rules for ethical treatment of POWs. Prisoners received meager rations supplemented with Red Cross food parcels and, with the exception of officers, were required to work, often performing hard labor. To compensate the prisoners for their work, Germany distributed currency that was to be used in the POW camps. The notes only held value in the POW camps and their official use was for the purchase of goods from the canteens. However, the canteens were poorly stocked, which rendered the notes essentially worthless. Many prisoners used the notes for gambling among themselves to combat boredom. The notes were discontinued in 1944. In response, prisoners in Polish camps created their own currency for internal use.

issue:  1939-1944
issue: Germany
Exchange Media
Object Type
Paper money (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joel Forman
Record last modified: 2022-09-26 14:15:22
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