Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust

This exhibit is the first the Museum has mounted from its own archival material and consists of various 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 the United States.

The show is a sampling of the extensive Charlton E. Meyer Jr. and Gloria B. Meyer Collection of Holocaust Museum Houston. Meyer, a numismatist and collector from Shreveport, Louisiana, has been accumulating camp and ghetto scrip since the 1980s. He donated more than 400 pieces to the Museum in 2002. While the entire collection is available in the HMH archives, the 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 the United States,” 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.

The 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.

August 28, 2003 - November 9, 2003

Central Gallery

M: Closed
T-W: 10 am to 5 pm
Th: 10 am to 8 pm
F-Sa: 10 am to 5 pm
Su: Noon to 5 pm