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Buchenwald Standort-Kantine concentration camp scrip, 1 Reichsmark, acquired by a US soldier after liberation

Object | Accession Number: 2013.388.3

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    Buchenwald Standort-Kantine concentration camp scrip, 1 Reichsmark, acquired by a US soldier after liberation

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    Brief Narrative
    Buchenwald Standort-Cantine scrip valued at 1 Reichsmark found by 19 year old William Justis Jr., a US Army ranger, on the counter of the canteen in Buchenwald concentration camp a few days after its liberation on April 11, 1945. Buchenwald, with 88 subcamps, was a major source of forced labor, and the scrip was issued as part of an incentive system to increase production. Justis was deployed to Europe in March 1945 where he volunteered for the First Platoon Company “C” 5th Ranger Battalion. In April, as the battalion advanced through Germany, they noticed an increasingly offensive odor. The next morning, they were told that they were at Buchenwald concentration camp, which was entered on April 11 by US troops. Justis's company was assigned to security duty, tasked with making sure that no inmates left the camp. Germany surrendered on May 7 and the battalion remained on occupation duty in the Weimar region.
    issue:  1944-1945
    found:  approximately 1945 April 15
    found: Buchenwald (Concentration camp); Weimar (Thuringia, Germany)
    issue: Buchenwald (Concentration camp); Weimar (Thuringia, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of William G. Justis, Jr.
    front, top, black ink : 2 SS lightning bolts -Standort-Kantine - Buchenwald
    front, center, black ink : RM. 1 RM.
    front, bottom, black ink : WERTMARKE 83095 ✽
    Subject: William G. Justis Jr.
    William (Bill) Guy Justis, Jr., was born on August 18, 1926 in Richmond, Virginia, to Elizabeth and Bill G. Justis. He had two siblings. The United States entered World War II in December 1941. On his eighteenth birthday, August 18, 1944, Bill, then living in Tennessee, volunteered for immediate induction into the United States Army.

    In March 1945, his unit was deployed from Boston aboard the USS Wakefield to Liverpool, England. From there, they were transported to an Infantry Replacement Depot in France, near Nancy or Metz. That first evening, as Bill was going to the mess, he saw a notice on a bulletin board from a small unit that wanted a few replacements, but only volunteers who must pass a rigorous physical examination. There was a penciled note at the bottom of the flyer “Suicide Squad.” After the physical, Bill met with First Lieutenant Richard Levers of “C” Company, 5th Ranger Battalion. This battalion had breached the defenses at Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought its way through to Germany during the Battle of the Bulge. Bill was assigned to First Platoon Company “C” 5th Ranger Battalion. In the first week of April, the 5th Ranger Battalion was committed to their last mission, which was to split Germany into sectors and eliminate the remaining German Army. They were divided into two groups and attached to a section of the Third Cavalry Group. After several days of rapid advance, Bill and the other soldiers suddenly noticed a foul odor that became stronger and more offensive as they continued. They saw double rows of twelve foot high barbed wire fences with concrete posts, separated by a narrow road. At assembly the next morning, they were told that they were at Buchenwald concentration camp, which the first US troops entered on April 11, 1945. Bill's company was assigned as security guards to keep the over 20,000 inmates inside the camp. They worked on shifts of two hours on and four hours off. William, with two friends, spent his off hours exploring the camp, where he was filled with rage and revulsion as he walked among stacks of emaciated bodies piled like cord wood. The horrors of Buchenwald caused even General Patton to sob audibly, while cursing the Nazi regime, when Bill saw him during his April 15 visit. The battalion was placed on occupation duty in the Weimar region. Bill may have re-enlisted for another year of service in 1946. William returned to Tennessee where he married after the war.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Scrip (aat)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, light brown paper canteen coupon with German text, the serial number 83095, and the denomination 1 printed over a pale blue floral patterned rectangle with scalloped edges and a narrow blank border. The reverse is blank. The paper is creased, discolored, and very worn.
    overall: Height: 2.875 inches (7.303 cm) | Width: 4.250 inches (10.795 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 Buchenwald scrip was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by William G. Justis Jr.
    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:
    2023-08-25 17:37:27
    This page:

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