The Wiener Library

For the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide

Currencies

The Wiener Library’s collection also includes a number of types of currency, including pre-war emergency inflation currency from Germany (Notgeld and Inflationsgeld), as well as currencies issued by the Allies in the post-war period. One of the most interesting collections of banknotes comes from the Theresienstadt ghetto, where the Nazis presented a falsely positive view of ghetto life to convince the outside world that Jews were not being mistreated. A ghetto-specific currency was designed and circulated to add to this false sense of normalcy and give the impression that Theresienstadt was a typical Jewish settlement where economic life continued as normal.

There are also examples of currency from Allied internment camps, such as the Hay internment camp in Australia. This camp was set up to hold European refugees whom the British suspected of being possible spies or Nazi sympathisers. These were mostly male German and Austrian refugees, a large proportion of whom were Jewish. Their difficult journey to the camp on the Dunera ship is well documented. The banknotes, which were designed and made by internees in the camps, proved to be so sophisticated that the vast majority were confiscated and destroyed three months after circulation due to fears they would be traded outside the camps.

Bank note for 100 million marks issued in 1923

Bank note for 100 million marks issued in 1923

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50 Kronen bank note from Theresienstadt issued in 1943

50 Kronen bank note from Theresienstadt issued in 1943

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Currency notes worth two shillings, one shilling, and six pence issued in Camp Seven of the Hay internment camp

Currency notes worth two shillings, one shilling, and six pence issued in Camp Seven of the Hay internment camp (Doc 1683/26, Special Collection 26. Album 180.)

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Reverse of currency notes issued in the Hay internment camp

Reverse of currency notes issued in the Hay internment camp (Doc 1683/26, Special Collection 26. Album 180.)

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