5630 Dunbar St. at 41st Ave.

Newsletter #74, October 7, 2005

Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust

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This exhibit, produced by the Houston Holocaust Museum is on display in the Legacy Gallery of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, until December 15, 2005.

The exhibit, Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust, consists of pieces of scrip (currency) issued at 13 Nazi concentration camps or ghettos, including Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, and the Warsaw Ghetto. This unique exhibit presents several authentic Holocaust artifacts that have never been publicly displayed in Canada before.

Currency of the HolocaustThe exhibit features a selection of artifacts of the extensive Charlton E. Meyer Jr. and Gloria B. Meyer Collection of the Holocaust Museum, Houston. Meyer, a numismatist and collector from Shreveport, Louisiana, has been accumulating camp and ghetto scrip since the 1980's. He donated over 400 pieces to the Houston Museum in 2002. The traveling exhibit focuses on 85 of the most interesting and rare artifacts. Each piece in the display is unique in representing the concentration camp or ghetto where it was issued.

“This is the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust scrip that exists in North America,” said Collin Keel, the Museum’s director of changing exhibits. “Some of the artifacts in the collection are extremely rare, and one piece in particular, from the Natzweiler camp in France, is the only known piece in the world.”

Along with the Natzweiler scrip, artifacts from Dachau, Ravensbrück, and the Sokolka Ghetto are considered to be the most rare pieces in the collection. The scrip from Dachau is unusual because it has spaces for handwritten notations. Both prisoner numbers and the date of issue were often written in by hand, making each piece of this scrip unique and extremely rare.

Currency of the HolocaustThe collection also contains two of the three types of scrip issued at Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. The first issue was the Ravensbrück Canteen Scrip, which was used as a coupon, and the second issue was made up of cardboard premium notes with two types of overstamps, the traditional oval with the Nazi eagle and a triangular overstamp.

 The most rare scrip of the exhibit is a single piece from Natzweiler. Rediscovered in an old collection in 1993, it is the only known scrip from this camp existing today. It has the Waffen SS validation stamp and is thought to be a sample reserved for the camp records due to a punched hole in the note. The scrip from the Sokolka Ghetto, with the unusual denomination of 0.91 marks, is also extremely rare.

Few Jewish survivors have any recollection of the existence of scrip in the concentration camps and ghettoes where they were imprisoned. Jewish prisoners were generally not allowed the privileges afforded other prisoners, including receiving scrip.
Currency of the Holocaust

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre is located at 50 – 950 West 41st Avenue (at Oak), Vancouver, BC.  Hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Thursday and 9 am to 4 pm on Fridays.  Admission is by donation. For information call (604) 264-0499.

More information can be found at www.vhec.org

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Newsletter #75 Vanpex 2005

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