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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 20 kronen note, acquired by the Hidden Child Foundation

Object | Accession Number: 2017.478.2

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    Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 20 kronen note, acquired by the Hidden Child Foundation

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    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 20 kronen, distributed in Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto-labor camp and later acquired by the Hidden Child Foundation/Anti-Defamation League. At Theresienstadt, currency was confiscated from inmates and replaced with scrip, which could only be used in the camp. The scrip was part of an elaborate illusion to make the camp seem normal and appear as though workers were being paid for their labor, but the money had no real monetary value. The scrip was printed by the National Bank in Prague in 7 denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. The notes are dated 1 January 1943, but were not distributed until May 1943. Peter Kien, a Czechoslovakian poet, artist, and inmate of Theresienstadt designed the notes, but his original design was rejected by SS General Reinhard Heydrich. He was ordered to make Moses appear more stereotypically Semitic in appearance and to arrange Moses’s hand so that it is covering one of the commandments.
    publication:  1943 January 01
    use:  after 1943 May-before 1945 May 09
    issue: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Hidden Child Foundation/ADL
    face, lower right corner, printed, black ink : 20
    reverse, upper left, serial number, printed, red ink : 010636
    reverse, lower right, series letter, printed, red ink : O
    reverse, upper right and lower left corners, printed, green ink : 20
    reverse, center, printed, black and green ink : Quittung / über / ZWANZIG / KRONEN / THERESIENSTADT, AM 1.JÄNNER 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]
    Subject: Hidden Child Foundation / Anti-Defamation League
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    The Hidden Child Foundation is a volunteer-run organization supporting Holocaust survivors who were hidden as children during the Holocaust. With the help of Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Hidden Child from Poland, 1,600 former Hidden Children from 28 countries met for the first time in May 1991 in New York City at the First International Gathering of Children Hidden During World War II. The purpose of the gathering was to share memories, help those who were too young to remember, and most importantly, tell the world that they were witness to the atrocities committed against their people. After the gathering, the Hidden Child Foundation joined the Braun Holocaust Institute of the Anti-Defamation League. The mission of the Hidden Child Foundation is to educate all people about the consequences of bigotry and hatred so that never again will anyone suffer the atrocity, the injustice, and the agony of the Holocaust. The Foundation is in close contact with its worldwide membership, over 6,000, to convey current Holocaust related issues; liaises between the U.S. and international hidden child/child survivor groups; provides cultural and social programs for the New York metropolitan area membership; honors the rescuers, the Righteous Among the Nations, on International Rescuers' Day; publishes The Hidden Child, an international newsletter, sent to members, Holocaust centers and college and university libraries; advocates for all members, including 2nd and 3rd Generations, who are in need of financial, psychological or social assistance; provides a Speakers Bureau for all audiences; offers an International Family Tracing Service to locate survivors and relatives; and is a source of information for writers, filmmakers, journalists and researchers.
    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

    German Hebrew
    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Theresienstadt scrip printed on rectangular, off-white paper in green and black ink. The paper contains a watermark in the form of a repeating geometric pattern. On the face is a rectangle with geometric patterning and a wide, off-white margin to the right. On the left, within the rectangle, is a vignette with an image of Moses holding 2 stone tablets inscribed with the 10 Commandments in Hebrew. To his right, is the denomination centered between lines of German text. In the lower right corner is a Star of David with the denomination below. The reverse has a rectangle with geometric patterning and a wide off-white margin to the left. Within the rectangle is a central yellow streak, medallion, German text centered above and below a scrollwork line, the denomination on the upper right, and signature on the lower right. In the lower left corner is the denomination below a Star of David in a striped circle. The serial number in the upper left corner and the series letter on the lower right are both in red ink. There is a heavy vertical crease down the center. On the face, is a piece of clear tape on the center top edge, light creasing on both right corners, and a small reddish-brown spot near the center of the right edge.
    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 scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017 by the Hidden Child Foundation/Anti-Defamation League.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 20:14:05
    This page:

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