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Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 5 mark coin

Object | Accession Number: 1993.50.2

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    Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto scrip, 5 mark coin

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    Brief Narrative
    5 mark Łódź Ghetto coin issued acquired by Raul Hilberg, a renowned scholar, who published the first comprehensive study of the Holocaust and initiated the academic study of the Holocaust. Hilberg and his parents fled Vienna, Austria, after its annexation by Germany in March 1938. Almost all of his family members in Europe were murdered during the Holocaust. Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The Germans renamed it Litzmannstadt and confined the Jewish population to a ghetto. The Jewish Council was ordered to create a system of Quittungen [receipts] for use only in the ghetto. It was issued in 7 denominations: 50 pfenning, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 marks, and as coins, but there was little to exchange it for in the ghetto. In January 1942, half the residents were murdered at Chelmno killing center. In summer 1944, Łódź, the last ghetto in Poland, was destroyed and the remaining Jews were sent to Chelmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau killing centers.
    issue:  1940 May 15
    issue: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Raul Hilberg
    obverse: GETTO / 1943
    reverse, around outside: DER AELTESTE DER JUDEN• / •IN LITZMANNSTADT [illegible on this coin)
    reverse, center: 5 / QUITTUNG ÜBER / MARK
    Subject: Raul Hilberg
    Issuer: Der Aelteste der Juden in Litzmannstadt
    Raul Hilberg was born on June 2, 1926, in Vienna, Austria, the only child of Jewish parents. His father Michael fought and was wounded in the First World War (1914-1918). In Vienna, he had a business selling household goods to people on installment plans. His parents attended synagogue occasionally. Raul was never religious, but he did attend a Zionist school. In March 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and soon passed legislation to strip Jews of their rights as citizens. The family was ordered out of their apartment by gunpoint. His father was arrested during Kristallnacht, September 9-10 1938, but was soon released because he was a World War I veteran.

    The family left Austria and after stopovers in France and Cuba, reached Brooklyn, NY, on September 1, 1939. Michael worked in a factory and Hilberg attended Lincoln High School. He enrolled in Brooklyn College until enlisting in the Army in 1944. He was deployed to Germany in 1945 with the 45th infantry division. He served with an Oklahoma division that liberated Dachau, but was not with the unit at the time. He was with the first troops that entered Munich. He was later assigned to the Army documentation division, which needed staff fluent in German. The war ended in May 1945. Nearly all the members of Hilberg's family on both his mother's and father's side were murdered during the Holocaust. Postwar, Hilberg assisted in the search for German documents to aid the prosecution at the war crimes trials. His unit was housed in the Nazi Party’s former offices in Munich. Crates containing Hitler’s personal library were stored there and Hilberg was fascinated by the contents. After his discharge, he returned to Brooklyn College and changed his major from chemistry to history and political science, graduating in 1948. He then focused on political science and international law and completed a master’s in public law in 1950 at Columbia University. He taught at Hunter College and then obtained a federal job in the War Documentation Project in Alexandria, Va., cataloging documents released from German archives, copying by hand material necessary to his own research. He received his doctorate from Columbia in 1955. His dissertation was on the Holocaust, which was not then a topic of academic study. His adviser, Franz Neumann, warned him that the subject would be detrimental to his career.

    In 1956, he took a position at the University of Vermont. In 1961, his book, “The Destruction of the European Jews” was published. It was the first comprehensive study of the Holocaust and established the field of Holocaust studies. It was a methodical, evidentiary work detailing the systematic, bureaucratic process that led to the mass murder of Jews as a matter of routine. Rejected by five publishers, it was accepted by the small Quadrangle Company after a patron, Frank Petschek, a wealthy businesman who had fled German occupied Czechoslovakia in fall 1938, agreed to subsidize the print run and purchase 1300 copies for libraries. In 1974, Hilberg offered the first college-level course on the Holocaust. He expanded his original work to three volumes and published five more books on the topic, as well as a memoir. He retired from the University of Vermont in 1991, after thirty-five years.

    Hilberg was dedicated to expanding the public understanding of the Holocaust. He was a key figure in the development and establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, serving as an original member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1978–79) and on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1980 through 1988. In 2006, he received the Knight Commander’s Order of Merit in Germany, the highest award given to non-German citizens. Hilberg married Christine Hemenway in the 1950s. They had two children, and eventually divorced. In 1980, he married Gwendolyn Montgomery. Hilberg, 81, died of lung cancer in Williston, Vt., on August 4, 2007.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Object Type
    Tokens (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Highly corroded, circular, silver colored metal coin, possibly aluminum or magnesium, with a raised flat rim and smooth edges. Barely visible on the obverse is an embossed design with a 6 pointed Star of David and German text. The reverse has an embossed design with the denomination 5 mark in the center crossed by a banner with German text. There is illegible German text embossed in a circle near the rim.
    overall: | Depth: 0.125 inches (0.318 cm) | Diameter: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The coin was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993 by Raul Hilberg.
    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:
    2024-01-29 12:54:57
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