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Weimar Germany Reichsbanknote, 1000 marks, kept by a Polish Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2012.358.3

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    Brief Narrative
    German bank note for 1000 marks acquired by 8 year old Henikel (Harold) Minuskin before he and his family left Germany for the US in 1946. It was issued during the Weimar Republic in 1923. Henikel lived in Zhetel (Zdieciol) Poland (Dziatlava, Belarus), with his parents Shlamke and Shanke, and his younger brother Kalmanke. In June 1941, Zhekel was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Jews of the town were violently persecuted and over 120 prominent community members, including Henikel's uncle Leib, were shot. On February 22, 1942, all Jews were relocated to a ghetto. That August, the Germans began preparations to liquidate the ghetto. His father escaped to the nearby forest and joined the Jewish partisan resistance. His mother took 3 year old Henikel and 1 year old Kalmanke to an underground hiding place. After three days, they escaped to the forest. His father found them hiding in a root cellar and brought them to live with the Lenin Partisan Brigade in the Lipichanski forest in Poland (Bialowieza Forest, Poland and Belarus) from 1942-1944. Shlamke participated in the guerrilla action against the Germans, while Shanke repaired and sewed clothing. The area was liberated by the Soviet Army in September 1944. When the war ended in May 1945, the family went to Zeilsheim displaced persons camp in Germany. With the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the family emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on September 6, 1946.
    issue:  1923 January 01
    received:  approximately 1946
    issue: Berlin (Germany)
    received: Berlin (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Harold Minuskin
    front, upper left, serial number, black,then red ink : N 126015
    front, lower left, printed, black ink : 1000
    front, lower left, below number, black ink : Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder / verfälscht, oder nachgemachte oder / verfälschte sich verschafst und in / Verkehr bringt, wird mit Zuchthaus / nicht unter zwei Jahren bestraft [Those who imitate or counterfeit banknotes or distorts or falsifies, procures and markets it, is punishable with imprisonment of not less than two years]
    front, upper center, black ink : Reichsbanknote / Tausend Mark [Reich banknote / Thousand Mark]
    front, center, black ink : zahlt die Reichsbankhauptkasse in Berlin / gegen diese Banknote dem Einlieferer / Dom 1. Januar 1923 ab kann diese Banknote ausgerufen und unter / Umtausch gegen andere gesetzliche Zahlungsmittle eingezogen werden / Berlin, den 15. September 1922 / Reichsbankdirektorium [Will be paid by the Reich’s main bank cashier in Berlin / Beginning January 1, 1923 this banknote can be invoked and can be collected in exchange for other legal currency / Berlin, September 15, 1922 / Governing body of the Empire’s bank]
    front, behind text, watermark, green ink : 1000
    front, center left and right, within seal, black ink : REICHSBANKDIREKTORIUM
    front, upper right, stamped, black ink : CD
    back, center, green ink : MARK 1000 MARK
    Issuer: Deutsche Reichsbank
    Subject: Harold Minuskin
    Henikel (Henach) Minuskin was born on July 22, 1938, to Shlamke, born on March 12, 1905, and Shanke Orlinsky Minuskin, born on September 17, 1914. He had one brother, Kalmanke, born on August 17, 1940. All of the family members were born in Zhetel, Poland (Dziatlava, Belarus). They lived in a home built by his father and his four brothers. Shlamke owned a bus transportation business. Shanke was trained as a hairdresser and manicurist. On September 17, 1939, the Soviets invaded and occupied eastern Poland, and Zhetel came under Soviet control. Shortly after the invasion, Shlamke prepared a secret hiding place under the outhouse in the backyard. On June 30, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and occupied Zhetel. The persecution of Jews became increasingly violent and on July 23, 1941, German mobile killing units murdered about 120 prominent members of the Jewish community, including Harold’s maternal uncle, Leib Orlinsky. On February 22, 1942, the Germans put up posters ordering all Jews to move into the ghetto which was established in the area where Harold’s family lived. They had to share their home with several others. On August 6, 1942, the Germans began the final liquidation of the ghetto. Shlamke was rounded up during the massacre and locked with hundreds of others in the synagogue. He was able to hide in the rafters in the midst of the confusion. After two days, he escaped into the Belorussian forest and joined the Jewish partisan resistance.

    During this time, Henik, Kalmanke, Sonia, and eight others hid in the underground hiding place. After three days, Shanke decided to flee with her sons to the nearby forest. Harold’s grandmother, Rivka Orlinsky, suffered from poor eyesight, so an aunt remained behind with her. Both were captured by the Germans and shot and killed the following day. Shanke and the boys received shelter and food from some peasants and farmers that Shanke knew, but many were afraid of the Germans and would not help. They slept in ditches and fields some nights. Shlamke found them hiding in a root cellar and led them to the partisan unit’s base in the Lipiczanski (Lipichanski) forest. He was a private in the Lenin Partisan Brigade. The boys and their mother stayed in camouflaged underground dugouts [zemlyankas] when the unit went on missions to sabotage German troops or eliminate collaborators. The group had to keep moving to avoid capture by the Germans.

    Living conditions were harsh; the family often had little food and many partisans perished from the cold and disease. The family subsisted on food acquired from local peasants or wild food from the forest. They had a supply of Russian Czarist era gold coins which they used to get supplies, but they often were not accepted and the partisans took things by force. Shanke would venture out at night to find milk or bread. She served as a seamstress for the partisans. She made the family clothing from silk parachutes left behind by Soviet officers and sewed coats for Harold and Carl from a German great coat. The boys had Russian aviator’s hats that were also scavenged n the woods. Harold’s father taught him to shoot a rifle and load machine gun magazines and he helped his mother saw logs to build shelters. The area was liberated on September 7, 1944, by the Soviet Army.

    The family briefly returned to their home in Zhetel after the war ended in May 1945. They decided not to stay because of the still strong anti-Semitism. In November 1945, they arrived at Zeilsheim displaced persons camp near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Their names were listed by the Red Cross as survivors of the war. Harold’s maternal aunt, Helen Orlinsky Gulfetta, who lived in New York, saw their names and sponsored their emigration to the United States. On September 16, 1946, the family emigrated to the US on the Marine Marlin. They Americanized their names to Harold, Carl, Sonia, and Sam. Harold received a masters in electrical engineering from the University of California, and was a senior design engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He married Arlene and had two children. In 2009, he translated his mother’s memoir of their wartime experiences. Sam died on August 14, 1984, age 79. Sonia died on November 7, 2008, age 94.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    Rectangular offwhite paper currency with a graphic design in reddish brown and green ink. The face has a green and purple/brown double helix background with 1000 mark printed within the helices, within a geometric border. In the upper left is the serial letter N in black ink and serial number 126015 in red ink. On the left is the
    denomination 1000 in large font, above 5 lines of German fraktur text. In the center is the textual denomination, Tausend Mark, 6 lines of text, and 4 signatures, superimposed over a green watermark of the denomination 1000 within a scroll design. Flanking the signatures is the Reichdirecktorium seal with a Reichsadler. In the upper right corner are the letters CD in bold font. The back has a brown, interlocked geometric background. In the center is an ornate green diamond and scroll shaped design with the denomination 1000 flanked by MARK in large black and green font superimposed on a rectangular, brown, interlocked, geometric background. The note is discolored and slightly creased.
    overall: Height: 3.375 inches (8.573 cm) | Width: 6.250 inches (15.875 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 currency was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Harold Minuskin.
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-10 11:10:40
    This page:

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