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Deggendorf displaced persons camp scrip, 5-cent note, acquired by a former director

Object | Accession Number: 2007.162.3

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    Deggendorf displaced persons camp scrip, 5-cent note, acquired by a former director

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 5 cents, distributed in Deggendorf displaced persons camp in the American zone of Germany, after November 5, 1945, and saved by Carl Atkin, former director of the camp. Under his direction, the camp opened a canteen to purchase items, introduced a currency with which to buy said products, and set up a banking system. Prior to the end of World War II in 1945, Carl accepted a post with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international humanitarian organization. On August 23, 1945, he led UNRRA Team 55 to the poorly run Deggendorf displaced persons camp in the American-occupied zone of Germany, where they took over management. Carl and his team stabilized the food supply, secured housing facilities, fostered cultural life with lectures, concerts, performances, and established a community newspaper. Praised for his leadership, improvement of living conditions, and boosting of morale at Deggendorf, he left his directorship in December 1945, and was appointed UNRRA’s Coordinator of Jewish Affairs. In March 1946, he returned to the US, rejoined his family in Los Angeles, and continued to work for the organization. On July 2, 1947, UNRRA terminated its activities and Carl transitioned into sales and advertising, financial management for a nightclub that he co-owned, and eventually aerospace production, management and documentation.
    Date
    issue:  after 1945 November 05
    acquired:  after 1945 November 05-before 1945 December
    Geography
    issue: Deggendorf (Displaced persons camp); Deggendorf (Germany)
    acquired: Deggendorf (Displaced persons camp); Deggendorf (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Richard Katz
    Markings
    face, center, printed, blue ink : FIVE CENTS / DEGGENDORF / JEWISH COMMUNITY / TREASURER
    face, upper left corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    face, upper right corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    face, lower right corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    face, lower left corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    reverse, center, printed, blue ink : FIVE CENTS
    reverse, upper left corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    reverse, upper right corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    reverse, lower right corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    reverse, lower left corner, printed, blue ink : 5
    Contributor
    Subject: Carl Atkin
    Issuer: Deggendorf Jewish Committee
    Biography
    Carl Atkin (1903-1976) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrants and had an older brother, Jacob (b. 1898- ?). He attended New York City public schools, graduating in 1922. Shortly thereafter, he married Frances Ruthenberg (1904-1969) and had two children. In his early career, Carl worked as a house painter, a newspaper reporter for the Standard News Association, and a publicity manager for the Coney Island Publicity Bureau. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan and by December 11, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. When Carl registered for selective service in February 1942 he was working for the Office of Emergency Management in Washington, D.C. He was not chosen to join the fighting, and instead worked as a property and supply officer for the U.S. Treasury Department’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices.

    In the spring of 1945, Carl applied for a post with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international humanitarian organization established to help countries left economically devastated and the people displaced during World War II. The organization was established in November 1943, and began administering displaced persons (DP) camps in the Middle East in May 1944. After the war ended in May 1945, the UNRRA assumed management of the DP assembly centers and camps in the French, British, and U.S. Zones in Germany and helped to repatriate millions of people.

    Carl joined the UNRRA and reported for training in Washington, D.C. on April 12, 1945. Leaving his family behind, Carl arrived in England on June 1 and continued on to a U.N. staging area in Heidelberg, Germany. On August 23, he led UNRRA Team 55 to Deggendorf, a former concentration camp turned displaced persons camp, in the American-occupied zone of Germany. When Carl’s team took over Deggendorf was largely populated by former inmates of Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp and was poorly managed with overcrowding, poor living conditions and sanitation, as well as a lack of food and clothing. As camp director, Carl’s top priorities became stabilizing the food supply and securing housing facilities. He addressed the issue of overcrowding by reducing the number of refugees allowed in the camp. He also fostered the democratic election of a committee and self-administration within the camp. He improved physical infrastructure by providing new technical equipment such as central heating and water heaters, created a new large bathhouse, repaired sanitary systems, and generally enhanced dwelling conditions. Under his direction the camp opened a canteen to purchase items, introduced a currency with which to buy said products, and set up a banking system. Carl and his team also fostered cultural life with lectures, concerts, performances, and the creation of a community newspaper, in which he wrote a weekly column titled “Community Spirit.” Praised for his leadership, improvement of living conditions, and boosting of morale at Deggendorf, he left his directorship in December 1945 for an appointment as the UNRRA’s Coordinator of Jewish Affairs. Prior to his departure from Deggendorf, the Jewish Community gifted him a memory book reflecting on the progress made during his brief tenure and praising him for his advocacy and efforts on the community’s behalf. They threw him a farewell party in combination with a wedding celebration, where he served as best man. In his new role Carl traveled to numerous DP camps consulting on many of the improvements he had encouraged at Deggendorf including, the introduction of self-governments, monetary systems, and educational facilities.

    In March 1946, he returned to the U.S. and joined his family in Los Angeles and continued to work for UNRRA. By then, most liberated countries had functioning governments once again, and on July 2, 1947 the UNRRA ended operations. Carl transitioned into sales and advertising, as well as financial management for a nightclub that he co-owned. In 1951, he returned to his Jewish assistance efforts, joining the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel, which had been established in 1950 and was headquartered in Los Angeles, to help raise funds for the devastated Israeli economy following the country’s War of Independence (1947-1949). In May 1951, Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, visited LA for the inauguration of the State of Israel Bond Issue. In 1952, Carl transitioned into aerospace production management and documentation. In 1969, Carl’s wife, Frances died. In 1972, he married Edith J. Katz (nee Forman, 1912-1999) and became stepfather to her son, Richard (b. around 1936).

    Physical Details

    Language
    English
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Category
    Money
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Genre/Form
    Money.
    Physical Description
    Deggendorf scrip printed on rectangular, off-white paper in blue ink. On the face is a border with diagonal stripes and inside each corner is a square with the denomination. In the center are 4 lines of text overlaid with a partial hand stamp in purple ink. The stamp consists of a ring with text surrounding a smaller circle with 3 lines of text inside. In the lower right corner are handwritten initials in black ink. The reverse has a line of text in the center and the denomination in numerals in each corner. There is a large diagonal crease and bleed-through on the face from the blue ink and on the reverse from the black and purple ink.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Width: 2.375 inches (6.033 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink
    Inscription
    face, right side, stamped, purple ink : Jewish Com . . . / D. P. / Camp 7 / Deggendorf
    face, lower right corner, signed, black ink : [?]

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Richard Katz, stepson of Carl Atkin.
    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:
    2023-10-16 14:08:40
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn538651

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