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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 20 kronen note, acquired by a German Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2012.425.4

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 20 kronen note, acquired by a German Jewish refugee

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    Brief Narrative
    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip for 20 kronen owned by Wolfgang Rauner. The scrip was issued in the camp in 1943. All currency was confiscated from inmates upon entry and replaced with scrip and ration coupons that could be exchanged only in the camp. Theresienstadt was a multi-use camp, acting as a settlement, transit camp, and propaganda tool, for 3.5 years, from November 24, 1941 to May 9, 1945. It was located near Prague, in a region of Czechoslovakia occupied by Germany. Wolfgang and his family fled Trier, Germany, for Luxembourg in September 1935 to escape the escalating persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime which had ruled since 1933. His father worked to re-establish his food equipment and confectionary sales business. Wolfgang attended local schools as well as Hebrew school run by the close knit Jewish community. His older siblings learned trades to prepare for a future in America. In May 1940, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany. In summer 1941, with assistance from family members already in the US, Wolfgang, 13, his parents, Aron and Neddy, and his older siblings, Edgar and Gertrude, sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, on the SS Mouzinho, arriving in New York on June 21.
    issue:  1943 January 01
    emigration:  1941 June
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Wolfgang Rauner
    face, lower right corner, black ink : 20
    reverse, upper left in border, serial number, red ink : 011769
    reverse, right lower center, series number, red ink : C
    reverse, upper right corner, green ink : 20
    reverse, lower left corner, green ink : 20
    reverse, center, black and green ink : Quittung / über / ZWANZIG KRONEN / THERESIENSTADT, AM 1.JANNER 1943 DER ALTESTE DER JUDEN / IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein [Receipt / of / TWENTY CROWNS / THERESIENSTADT, ON 1. JANUARY 1943 THE ELDER OF THE JEWS IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein]
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Subject: Wolfgang Rauner
    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.
    Wolfgang Rauner was born on November 26, 1928, to Aron and Hedwig (Neddy) Kahn Rauner in Trier, Germany. His father Aron was born on July 8, 1885, in Merzig am Saar in southwestern Germany to Isaak and Miriam Schnerb Rauner. The family had lived there for generations. Aron’s parents operated a bakery, specializing for part of the year in matzo, for which they received orders from throughout the Saar and Mosel regions. Aron’s sister Hedwig was born in 1883. They were a deeply religious family. Aron was in the wholesale candy and chocolate business in Merzig. He was wounded by artillery during World War I (1914-1918.) On December 26, 1922, Aron married Hedwig Kahn. Hedwig was born on February 5, 1893, in Freudenburg, to Solomon and Hedwig (Kahn) Kahn. Her father was a horse dealer. She had three siblings: Ludwig (d. 1902), Simon, who married Elizabeth Weil, and Minna, who married Arthur Hanau. Aron and Hedwig settled in Trier. He expanded the family business to include the sale of food machinery, chiefly from the firm Rowenta. Wolfgang had three older siblings: Edgar (1923-1966), Ludwig, born in 1924, and Gertrude, born in 1926. The family lived comfortably and had a housemaid and a non-Jewish governess, Gretchen, whose aunt had been their father’s governess. His paternal grandmother lived with the family, but passed away on January 29, 1933.

    Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany that year. Anti-Jewish laws were soon enacted and Jewish businesses were boycotted. In January 1935, Aron returned to his hometown in the Saar to vote in the reunification plebiscite. When he returned, he was shaken by the events he had witnessed there and told the family they must prepare to leave Germany before it was too late. The Rauner family left for Luxembourg in September 1935 with most of their furniture and other belongings. Neddy’s sister, Minna and Arthur Hanau, and their sons Walter and Ernest and her brother Simon and his family resided in Luxembourg City. Simon had obtained a professional license there, so that Aron could work as a salesman. Aron contacted the Rowenta company and tried to restart his sales business. Wolfgang attended the local school as well as Hebrew school organized by the closeknit Jewish community. His older siblings were sent to work to learn trades that would prepare them for their future in America. In 1937-1938, both of Neddy’s siblings and their families left for the US. Neddy’s father died in Germany in 1939 after being beaten by Nazi Party members. Her ill mother joined them in Luxembourg but died the following year. In 1939, the Rauner family’s citizenship was revoked by Germany, making them stateless. That September, Germany occupied Poland. On May 10, 1940, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany. Wolfgang had to leave school. The German civil authorities confiscated their valuable belongings. Life became very difficult as Aron’s work did not bring in much money. Aron’s sister Hedwig came to live with them. Her husband Cesar had recently died in France where they had fled after the invasion.

    Circa early 1940, Neddy’s siblings Simon and Minna, and a cousin Dr. Paul Kahn sponsored affidavits of support for the family so they could secure US visas; they also paid for their ship passage. On June 10, 1941, the Rauner’s sailed on the SS Mouzinho from Lisbon, Portugal, arriving in New York eleven days later. The family settled in the Washington Heights section of New York City. Edgar enlisted in the US army in April 1943 and was deployed overseas with the US Seventh Army. He was one of the Ritchie boys, native German speaking, mostly Jewish, refugees, trained in special intelligence and interrogation techniques. Aron was in poor health when he arrived in America and found it difficult to start over. Wolfgang later served in the US Army during the Korean War (1950-1953.) He married Rosie Stern. Wolfgang’s mother Hedwig, age 69, died in 1962. Aron, age 78, died on July 15, 1963.

    Physical Details

    German Hebrew
    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Scrip printed on offwhite paper with a graphic design on the face in black and green ink on a green patterned background. On the left is a medallion with an image of Moses holding 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments in Hebrew characters; to the right is the denomination in German text and a numeral 20, with text below. On the right side is a wide, offwhite border with the denomination 20 below a 6-pointed Star of David. The reverse has a green geometric background design with a central yellow streak, German text, and a scrollwork line. Below the text is an engraved signature. The denomination 20 is in the upper right corner. The left side has a wide, off-white border with the denomination 20 in the lower corner with a 6-pointed Star of David above. The serial number 011769 in red ink is in the upper left corner. The series letter C in red ink is in the right center below the scrollwork.
    overall: Height: 2.625 inches (6.668 cm) | Width: 5.250 inches (13.335 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 2012 by Wolfgang Rauner.
    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:
    2023-06-06 12:35:22
    This page:

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