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Imperial Germany, 50 mark note, series 1, from the album of a Waffen-SS officer acquired by an American soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2013.455.4

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    Imperial Germany, 50 mark note, series 1, from the album of a Waffen-SS officer acquired by an American soldier

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    Brief Narrative
    Imperial Germany 50 [funfzig] mark note from the album of Hauptsturmfuhrer Gerhard Pleiss, an officer in the Waffen-SS, SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte SS "Adolf Hitler," 1st Company. This note, issued in June 1919, bears the Imperial eagle crest and was the final issue of Imperial Germany, although that regime collapsed in November 1918, at the end of World War I. Germany then became a republic, but was in a transitional period until the new constitution was adopted in Weimar in August 1919. In 1936, the 21 year old Pleiss volunteered for the SS and was accepted into the Leibstandart, Hitler's personal bodyguard. He was awarded for his leadership in the May 1940 invasion of France and the April 1941 Balkans campaign. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Pleiss was killed by a mine on November 17, 1941, during the offensive on Rostov-on-Don. The note was preserved in Pleiss's photograph album, which was brought back from the war by Milton V. Elliott, an American soldier.
    issue:  approximately 1919 June 24
    issue: Berlin (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Wendie Theus
    face, top left, stamped, purple ink : Reihe 1 [Series 1]
    face, top left, green ink ; Reichsbanknote / Fünfzig Mark
    face, center, green ink : zählt die Reichsbankhaupt / kasse in Berlin gegen diese / Banknote dem Einlieferer [Payable by the Reichsbank to the depositor of this note]
    face, bottom, center, purple ink : Berlin, den 24, Juni 1919 / Reichsbankdirektorium / engraved signatures
    face, bottom, stamped, purple ink : AO [?] Nr. 376314
    back, left and right, white on blue : 50
    back, center, blue outline : R B D
    back,centerbue ink : Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder verfälscht, ober nach- / gemachte ober verfälschte sich und in Verkehr / bringt, wird Zuchthaus nicht unter zwei Jahren bestraft
    Original owner: Gerhard Pleiss
    Subject: Gerhard Pleiss
    Issuer: Reichsbankdirektorium
    Subject: Milton V. Elliott
    Gerhard (Gerd) Pleiss was born on April 20, 1915, in Remscheid, Germany. He attended gymnasium in Dortmund and then began an apprenticeship with a dentist. He volunteered for the SS in April 1936 and was accepted into the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 1st SS Company. This unit was Hitler's personal bodyguard, charged with guarding Hitler, his office, and personal residences. Pleiss attended SS-Junker school in Braunschweig and, in April 1939, was promoted to Untersturmfuhrer. He participated in the invasion of France in May 1940 and was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st class. In 1941, the Leibstandarte became part of the Waffen SS, during preparations for Operation Barbarossa, the planned invasion of the Soviet Union. SS-Hauptsturmführer Pleiss was made commander, 1st Company LSSAH, for the campaign in the Balkans. In April 1941, during the Battle of Vevi in northern Greece, Pleiss's unit captured Klidi Pass from British troops, opening the way into Greece. He was wounded, but remained in command. Pleiss was awarded the Knight's Cross, the highest award for bravery and leadership, which was personally presented to him by Hitler on April 21 in Berlin. Operation Barbarossa was launched on June 22, 1941. Pleiss was mortally wounded on November 17, 1941, when he stepped on a land mine during the attack on Rostov-on-Don (Rostov-na-Donu, Russia.)
    Milton Verne Elliott was born on May 25, 1921, in Thayer, Kansas, to Vern H. and Ann C. Glentzer Elliott. He had a sister Ernestine. In August 1940, Milton enlisted in the United States Army. America entered World War II in December 1941. At some point, Milton was deployed to the European Theater of Operations. He returned to the US after the war ended in May 1945. In 1948, Milton married Gladys Baldwin. The couple had one daughter. Milton, 82, died in October 2003 in Missouri.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    50 mark paper currency printed with green, purple, and light brown ink. The face has a layered, geometric background. In the upper right is a portrait of a young woman in Jugenstil headdress in an ornate frame with the denomination 50 in the pedestal below. In the center is the denomination funfzig mark, German text, and engraved signatures. Reihe 1 is stamped in purple in the upper left corner. Near the bottom are 2 purple Reichsbank seals with the Imperial eagle, letters, and a stamped serial number. The reverse is in black and dark green, with an orange underprint. The background has a fine, netted design with a dark purple rectangle framed in light brown. Across the center are 3 stylized floral ornaments with the denomination 50 within the outer 2 and the letters R B D above and below the center circle. The note is very worn, creased, and soiled.
    overall: Height: 4.000 inches (10.16 cm) | Width: 5.875 inches (14.923 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name

    Administrative Notes

    The bank note was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Wendie Theus, the daughter of Milton V. Elliott.
    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:
    2023-08-28 08:10:14
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