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Vichy France currency, 5 franc note, acquired by an American internee

Object | Accession Number: 2018.426.13

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    Vichy France currency, 5 franc note, acquired by an American internee

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Banque de France note, valued at 5 francs, distributed in Vichy France starting August 1943, and acquired by Leonie Roualet. Leonie was born in New York to Leonie Calmesse and Henry Charles Roualet, French champagne vintners who had immigrated to the United States in the 1890s. In the 1930s, Leonie’s mother returned to France to take care of her ailing brother. While caring for her brother, she too became sick, and in 1939 Leonie traveled to France to take care of her mother and her uncle. In May 1940, Germany invaded France and occupied the northern half of the country. Leonie’s sister, Henriette, began to worry about the fate of her mother and sister as she struggled to contact them, and she wrote repeatedly to the U.S. State Department for information on their whereabouts. In November, she received a telegram stating that her mother was in a hospital in Bordeaux, while Leonie was living with their uncle in Épernay. On September 24, 1942, the Gestapo arrested Leonie as an enemy alien and sent her to a prison in Châlons. From there she was transferred to Frontstalag 194 in the Vittel internment camp. She remained there for two years until the camp was liberated by Free French forces on September 12, 1944. Immediately following liberation, Leonie worked for the Red Cross and helped establish the first displaced persons (DP) camp in Paris. In December 1945, Leonie returned to the United States, accompanying a convoy of refugees at the request of the American Embassy.
    Date
    issue:  1943 June 02
    Geography
    issue: France
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mark Roualet
    Markings
    face, top left and right corners, printed, blue ink : 5
    face, upper center left, printed, red ink : BANQUE DE FRANCE [Bank of France]
    face, upper center left, printed, black ink : 193579999
    face, top left corner, below denomination, printed, blue ink : CINQ / FRANCS [Five Francs]
    face, center left, printed, red ink : LE CAISSIER GÉNÉRAL. [The Cashier General]
    face, center left, printed, black ink : illegible signature
    face, lower center, printed, red ink : LE SECRÉTAIRE GÉNÉRAL. [The Secretary General]
    face, lower center, printed, black ink : illegible signature
    face, lower left corner, printed, black ink : L.78 F.25=11=1943.F.
    face, lower right corner, printed, black ink : 79999
    back, top left and lower right corners, printed, blue ink : 5
    back, top right corner, printed, blue ink : BANQUE DE FRANCE [Bank of France]
    back, rectangle, lower right, printed, blue ink : LE CONTREFACTEUR SERA / PUNI DES TRAVAUX FORCES / A PERPETUITE [The counterfeiter will be punished with forced labor in perpetuity]
    Contributor
    Subject: Leonie B. Roualet
    Issuer: Banque de France
    Artist: Clément Serveau
    Biography
    Leonie Berthe Roualet (1900-1978) was born in Hammondsport, New York to Leonie (née Calmesse, 1869-1942) and Henry Charles Roualet (1866-?). Leonie and Henry were both originally from France, where they worked as champagne vintners. They immigrated to New York in 1890, where they continued to work as wine merchants. Leonie Berthe was raised Catholic and had two older brothers, Georges (George, 1891-1951) and Andre (Andrew, 1894-1973), and one older sister, Henriette (1898-1969). Georges served in the U.S. Navy during World War I aboard the USS Wisconsin. After the war, the entire family moved from New York to Cleveland, Ohio.

    In the 1930s, Leonie’s mother, Leonie Calmesse Roualet, returned to France to take care of her ailing brother. While caring for her brother, she too became sick, and in 1939 Leonie traveled to France to take care of her mother and her uncle. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and two days later France and Britain declared war on Germany, officially starting World War II. In May 1940, Germany invaded France and occupied the northern half of the country. Leonie’s sister, Henriette, began to worry about the fate of her mother and sister as she struggled to contact them, and she wrote repeatedly to the U.S. State Department for information on their whereabouts. In November, she received a telegram stating that her mother was in a hospital in Bordeaux, while her sister was living with their uncle in Épernay.

    On December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States. Following this declaration, German authorities began arresting American citizens in their occupied territories with the hope that they could exchange them with German citizens interned abroad. On September 24, 1942, the Gestapo arrested Leonie as an enemy alien and sent her to a prison in Châlons. From there she was transferred to Frontstalag 194 in the Vittel internment camp. In Vittel, Leonie lived in hotel-like accommodations with running water and heat. She was able to send and receive mail, and accept Red Cross packages. The Germans published propaganda photos and press stories about Vittel to showcase it as representative of conditions in German camps. Despite these improved living conditions in comparison to other German camps, Vittel was still surrounded by barbed wire and constantly patrolled by armed guards. Leonie often suffered from malnutrition while interned in the camp.

    On September 12, 1944, the Vittel internment camp was liberated by Free French forces. Immediately following liberation, Leonie worked for the Red Cross and helped establish the first displaced persons (DP) camp in Paris. In December 1945, Leonie returned to the United States aboard the S.S. Gripsholm, accompanying a convoy of refugees at the request of the American Embassy. She resettled in Cleveland, reuniting with her sister, Henriette. In Cleveland, Leonie continued working for the Red Cross before becoming the director of the diocesan Catholic Resettlement Council when it was established in 1949. Working for the Council, Leonie helped resettle thousands of refugees from wars and political strife around the world.

    Physical Details

    Language
    French
    Classification
    Exchange Media
    Category
    Money
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Genre/Form
    Money.
    Physical Description
    Vichy France bank note printed on lightweight, rectangular, cream-colored paper. The face has a large, central rectangle surrounded by a narrow, blank border. Within the rectangle, a portrait of a young shepherd is printed on the right. He is wearing a matching blue cap and coat, and holding a walking stick in his right hand. In the background is a village with colorful, rolling hills, and a blue sky with large white clouds. To the left of the shepherd in the clouds there is a watermarked portrait of Bernard Palissy in left profile. The numeric denomination is printed in blue ink in the top two corners, and written out in French text below the number on the left. French text is printed in red ink at the top center left border, at center left, and at lower center. Signatures in black ink are printed at center left and lower center. Date and serial information are printed in black ink below the red text on the upper border and on blue scrolls in the lower two corners. The back has a large, green, central rectangle surrounded by a narrow, blank border. Within the rectangle, a portrait of a young woman wearing a blue dress with a green shawl and large cross necklace is printed on the left. A large bouquet of colorful, diverse flowers is printed around her, leaving an open circle just to the right of her face for the watermarked portrait of Palissy. The denomination is printed in blue ink in the upper left and lower right corners. French text is printed in blue ink in the upper right corner and in a rectangle with a blue background on the lower right. The note has a large vertical crease in the center, and is creased and worn overall. There are red stains along the lower border and in the upper left corner on the face.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Width: 4.000 inches (10.16 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 Mark Roualet, great nephew of Leonie Roualet.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 13:00:28
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn628051

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