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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 2 kronen note acquired by a Jewish Czech woman

Object | Accession Number: 1992.132.17

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 2 kronen note acquired by a Jewish Czech woman

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    Brief Narrative
    Scrip valued at 2 kronen acquired by Elisabeth (Liese) Trausel who was imprisoned in Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp from fall 1944 until liberation in May 1945. Liese lived in Prague when it was invaded in March 1939, by Germany and made part of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The authorities passed new anti-Jewish regulations that severely restricted Liese’s daily life. In September, Germany invaded neighboring Poland. In September 1941, Liese was required to wear a yellow Star of David badge at all times to identify herself as Jewish. Later that month, Reinhard Heydrich became Reich Protector and soon there were almost daily deportations of Jews to concentration camps. Liese was married to a non-Jewish man and her daughters were considered half-Jewish, which exempted all three women from being transported. On December 13, 1942, Liese’s father Josef Polacek was facing deportation and instead committed suicide. In June and December 1943, many of the exemptions protecting particular groups were waived and more Jews were transported. On September 1, 1944, Liese was assigned to do compulsory work. Later that fall, she was transported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp north of Prague. In April 1945, Hana was in the hospital and Eva was assigned to a compulsory work detail. Theresienstadt was taken over by the Red Cross on May 2, 1945. The war ended 5 days later when Germany surrendered. Liese returned to Prague. Many of her relatives and friends were killed in German concentration camps.
    issue:  after 1943 January 01
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Hana Rehakova
    front, upper center, printed in red ink : QUITTUNG ÜBER / ZWEI KRONEN [RECEIPT OF / TWO CROWNS]
    front, lower center, printed in middle text then above in red ink : 2
    reverse, upper left in border, plate letter and number, printed in red ink : A006
    reverse, center, printed in red ink : Quittung / über / ZWEI KRONEN [Receipt / of / TWO CROWNS]
    reverse, bottom right, printed in red ink : Jakob Edelstein
    Subject: Elisabeth Trausel
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Manufacturer: National Bank of Prague
    Elisabeth (Liese) Polacek (later Trausel) was born on November 4, 1902, in Prague, Austro-Hungary (Czech Republic), to Josef and Stefanie Polacek (Polatschek). Josef, a Jewish doctor, was born on November 2, 1870, in Austro-Hungary. Stefanie was born on March 3, 1875. The Austro- Hungarian Empire collapsed at the end of World War I (1914-1918) and Prague became part of the newly independent Czechoslovak Republic. Liese married a non-Jewish man, Mr. Trausel, and the couple had two daughters, Eva and Hana (later Rehakova), born on March 28, 1930.

    After 1933, when the Nazi regime came to power in Germany, Prague saw a large influx of Jews fleeing persecution. On February 4, 1938, Liese’s mother, Stefanie, died. In September, Germany annexed the Sudetenland border region. In March 1939, Germany annexed the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, where Prague was located, and placed them under the control of a Reich Protector. Other regions were absorbed by German allies and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Jewish life was restricted. Jews were banned from most professions and organizations, lost their property, and had to live with curfews. Few shops would serve Jews, who were allowed shop only during a few hours each day. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded neighboring Poland. Two days later, England and France declared war on Germany.

    In September 1941, Czech Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David badge sewn to their clothing at all times to make them easy to identify. Liese attached pointed hooks to her badge, which made it easy to remove when she needed to cross into an area of the city where Jews were not allowed. At the end of the month, Reinhard Heydrich, SS Chief of Security for the Reich, became Reich Protector, and prioritized the expulsion of Jews to concentration camps. Regular deportations of Jews from Prague began, with daily transport notices in the newspapers. Exempted from these deportations were several groups of Jews, including those that like Liese, were married to non-Jews and their half Jewish children. Also exempted were Jews who were considered sick or infirm, served as slave laborers in the war industry, or were employees of particular Jewish associations. As the war progressed, food rationing increased and was strictly controlled with official ration cards. Non-Jewish citizens were granted much larger quantities of sugar, potatoes, bread, and other necessities than Jews. They were also issued cards for additional items like fruit and vegetables, which were not available to Jews. The cards issued to Jews were marked to clearly identify them. Liese’s father Josef, learned that he was to be deported to the east, and committed suicide on December 13, 1942, rather than be taken away by force.

    In January 1943, Liese sent a food parcel to Berta Deutsch, a relative living in the sealed-off Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto, in German occupied Poland. In May, Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportation of all remaining Jews in the Reich, including Bohemia and Moravia, to concentration camps in the east or to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, 40 miles north of Prague, by June 30. Many previously exempted Jews were deported following the new order, though Liese and her daughters were still exempt because of her non-Jewish husband. In December, Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller ordered that Jews whose marriages to non-Jews had ended in divorce or death were allowed to be transported to Theresienstadt. Liese was able to correspond with or send food parcels to several friends and relatives being held at Theresienstadt in 1943 and 1944, including Dr. Erwin Pick, Hedwig Pick, Berta Kassler, and Leo Polacek. A couple of times, she received postcards from them confirming the receipt of the food parcels she had sent.

    On August 31, 1944, the Jewish Council of Prague issued a Bescheinigung, special pass, granting Liese permission to be out on the street at 5 am on September 1. Local authorities had assigned her compulsory work splitting mica, and the only way to carry out the work was to be out on the street by 5 am, which was before the curfew for Jews was lifted each day. Later that fall, Liese was placed on a transport to Theresienstadt. Conditions in the overcrowded camp were horrible, with little food and poor sanitary conditions, which aided the spread of disease. Thousands of prisoners died every month. In mid-April 1945, Liese sent a Zulassungsmarke, an official camp permit allowing the recipient to send a 20 kilogram parcel of food to an inmate, to her daughter Eva via the Jewish Council of Elders in Prague. They received the permit and summoned Eva to claim it, but she was carrying out compulsory work and did not receive the summons. Hana was at the hospital, so neither one knew Liese had requested the package.

    On May 2, the International Red Cross took over Theresienstadt. The guards fled, and on May 9, the Soviet Army entered the camp and took control. The war had ended on May 7 with Germany’s surrender. Liese returned to Prague and was reunited with her family. They later learned that Erwin Pick, Hedwig Pick, Berta Kassler, and Leo Polacek had all been deported to concentration camps to the east and killed. Their relative Berta Deutsch had also been deported and killed, and likely never received the food parcel that Liese had sent her. Liese’s first husband was no longer part of her life. She remarried and took the surname Kredbova. Hana married, and began working for the Czechoslovak News Agency. Liese, 75, died on July 15, 1978, in Prague. Hana, 77, died on September 9, 2007.
    Franz Peter Kien was born January 1, 1919, in Varnsdorf, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), to Leonard and Olga Frankl Kien. His father Leonard was born in 1886, in Varnsdorf, and was a member of the German-speaking Jewish population in the, the Sudetenalnd, which bordered Germany. Leonard was a textile manufacturer with his own factory. Peter’s mother Olga was born in 1898, in Bzenec, Austro-Hungary (Czech Republic), to Jewish parents. After 1929, the Kien family moved to Brno. Peter enrolled at the German Gymnasium, where he excelled at drawing, painting, and writing. In 1936, he graduated and moved to Prague to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. He also attended the Officina Pragensis, a private graphic design school run by a well-known Jewish artist, Hugo Steiner-Prag.

    On September 29, 1938, Germany annexed the Sudetenland. On March 15, 1939, Germany invaded Prague and annexed the Bohemia and Moravia provinces of Czechoslovakia, ruled by a Reich Protector. Jews were banned from participation in government, businesses, and organization, including schools. Peter had to leave the Academy, but continued to study at the Officina Pragensis. He also taught at Vinohrady Synagogue. In September 1940, Peter married Ilse Stranska, who was born on May 9, 1915, in Pilsen, to Jewish parents.

    In late September 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, the SS head of RSHA, Reich Main Security Office, became Reich Protector. Soon there were regular deportations of Jews to concentration camps. At the end of November, Theresienstadt concentration and transit camp near Prague got its first shipment of Jewish prisoners. On December 14, Peter was transported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp. He was assigned to the technical department where he worked as a draftsman and designer alongside other artists, including Bedrich Fritta, Leo Haas, and Jiri Lauscher. On July 16, 1942, Peter’s wife Ilse arrived in the camp. On January 30, 1943, Peter’s parents Leonard and Olga were transported from Bzenec to Terezin. Peter was assigned major projects by the Jewish Council that administered the camp for the Germans, such as the scrip receipts used in place of money in the camp. He secretly documented the inmate’s daily life, creating portraits and other drawings, and wrote plays, poems, and an operatic libretto. On October 16, 1944, Peter’s wife Ilse and his parents Leonard and Olga were selected for deportation. Peter volunteered to go with them. Before leaving, Peter and his family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. Peter survived the selection process, soon fell ill, likely with typhus, and died at age 25 in late October 1944. His wife and parents were killed at Auschwitz. Some of the work that Peter left with other prisoners or hid at Theresienstadt survived and has been exhibited worldwide.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Theresienstadt scrip printed on rectangular, off white paper in black and red ink. The front background rectangle has a geometric latticework pattern. On the left is a vignette of Moses, with a long beard and wrinkled brow, holding 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments in Hebrew. To the right is the denomination 2 and German text. On the right is a wide, off white border with the denomination 2 in the bottom corner below a Star of David. The reverse has a background rectangle with an interlocked diamond pattern, overprinted with German text, an engraved signature, and a scrollwork line. The denomination 2 is in the upper right corner. On the left is a wide, off white border with 2 in the lower corner below a Star of David in a lined circle. The plate letter and serial number A006 are in the upper left corner. The front has several yellow stains and a crease in the center.
    overall: Height: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Width: 4.375 inches (11.113 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 Theresienstadt scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992 by Hana Rehakova, the daughter of Elisabeth Trausel.
    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:
    2022-07-28 18:21:48
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