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Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp scrip, 2 kronen note, acquired by a Polish Jewish refugee and activist

Object | Accession Number: 2018.395.6

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Scrip, valued at 2 kronen, distributed in Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto-labor camp, and acquired post-war by Emanuel Scherer, a Jewish refugee and activist from Krakow, Poland. In Theresienstadt, currency was confiscated from inmates and replaced with scrip, which could only be used in the camp, and had no real monetary value. As a law student at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Emanuel joined the Jewish Labor Bund. It was a social-democratic organization devoted to strengthening Yiddish culture and socialist values through their network of schools and cultural and fraternal institutions. In 1930, he moved to Warsaw and joined the Warsaw Committee. In 1935, he was elected to the Central Committee. In 1938, he was elected to the Warsaw City Council, and worked as Secretary of the Trade Union of Office Workers. Emanuel worked as co-editor for multiple Bundist publications, and also contributed numerous articles and essays. Shortly after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Emanuel, his wife, and their infant son escaped to Vilno (in modern-day Lithuania), and immigrated to Sweden. They eventually made their way east, ending up in Japan. In April 1941, they sailed from Japan to the San Francisco, California, under false identities, eventually settling in New York. In 1943, Emanuel became the Bund representative to the Polish National Council in London, England, where the Polish government operated in exile. In 1946, he returned to his family in New York and worked with the Bund until his death.
    Date
    use:  after 1943 May-before 1945 May 09
    Geography
    use: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gail Scherer
    Markings
    face, center, printed, red ink : QUITTUNG ÜBER / ZWEI KRONEN / 2 / WER DIESE QUITTUNG VERFÄLSCHT ODER NACHMACHT / ODER GEFÄLSCHTE QUITTUNGEN IN VERKEHR BRINGT, / WIRD STRENGSTENS BESTRAFT. [Receipt / of / TWO CROWNS / ANYONE WHO FALSIFIES OR DISTORTS OR FAKES THIS RECEIPT, OR COUNTERFEITS RECEIPT, WILL BE STRICTLY PUNISHED]
    face, lower right corner, printed red ink : 2
    reverse, upper left corner, plate letter and number, printed red ink : A011
    reverse, upper right and lower left corners, printed, red ink : 2
    reverse, center, printed, red ink : Quittung / über / ZWEI KRONEN / THERESIENSTADT, AM 1.JÄNNER 1943 DER ALTESTE DER JUDEN / IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein [Receipt / of / TWO CROWNS / THERESIENSTADT, ON 1. JANUARY 1943 THE ELDER OF THE JEWS IN THERESIENSTADT / Jakob Edelstein]
    Contributor
    Subject: Emanuel Scherer
    Designer: Peter Kien
    Printer: National Bank of Prague
    Issuer: Der Alteste der Juden in Theresienstadt
    Biography
    Emanuel Scherer (1901-1977) was born in Krakow, Austria-Hungary (now Poland), to Jewish parents. He also had multiple younger siblings. During this time, Jews comprised almost a quarter of the Krakow population and Emanuel became familiar with Yiddish culture as a child. He attended the gymnasium of St. Jacka in Krakow, a classical school founded in 1857. He went on to earn a law degree from Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

    As a student, Emanuel had joined the Jewish Labor Bund, a social-democratic organization devoted to strengthening Yiddish culture and socialist values through their network of schools and cultural and fraternal institutions. The Bund was founded in 1897, to organize opposition to repression of Jewish workers in Russia, and was generally hostile to Zionism and Communism. Emanuel joined the Central Committee of Krakow’s Bundist youth movement. In 1930, he moved to Warsaw and joined the Warsaw Committee, and was the youngest man elected to the Central Committee in 1935. In 1938, he was elected to the Warsaw City Council, and worked as Secretary of the Trade Union of Office Workers. Emanuel worked as co-editor for multiple Bundist publications, also contributing numerous articles and essays.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded western Poland, prompting Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Around the same time, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland, under a nonaggression pact (the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) with Germany. During the Blitzkrieg (lightning war), German forces defeated the Polish, and by the end of the month, Warsaw had surrendered. The Germans terrorized the Polish people, shooting thousands of civilians and requiring men to participate in forced labor. They also aimed to destroy Polish political, religious, and intellectual leadership. Beginning in May 1940, the Germans enacted a plan, called AB-Aktion, to swiftly kill Polish leaders and intellectuals in Warsaw, including those in Jewish roles.

    Shortly after the war began, Emanuel and his wife, Bronka (1902-?), escaped to Vilno (in modern-day Lithuania), and immigrated to Sweden with their son, Victor (1940-2012). They eventually made their way east, ending up in Japan. In April 1941, they sailed from Japan to San Francisco, California, under the false identities of Zygmunt, Ewa, and Ryszard Lieberfreund, eventually settling in New York. In 1943, Emanuel became the Bund representative to the Polish National Council in London, England, where the Polish government operated in exile. He stayed there until the end of the war in 1945, and a year later, he returned to his family in New York. He became secretary of the coordinating committee for the Jewish Labor Bund and editor of the Bund monthly, Unzer Zeit. He also served as a representative in the Socialist International, an organization of social democratic, socialist, and labor parties formally established in 1951, and as vice-president of the Jewish Labor Committee, which was founded in 1934. He continued to attend meetings and debates related to his activism until his death.
    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

    Language
    German Hebrew
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Category
    Money
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Genre/Form
    Money.
    Physical Description
    Theresienstadt scrip printed on rectangular, off-white paper in red ink. 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. Centered within the rectangle is German text 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 plate letter and number are in the upper left corner. There is a crease in the center and wear around the edges.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Width: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, 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 2018 by Gail Scherer, the daughter-in-law of Emanuel Scherer.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 09:49:35
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn625795

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