The interest in numismatics (the study of coins) dates back to ancient times. At the beginning of the 14th century, numismatics was first integrated into the study of history in Europe, and during the 18th century it was recognized as an independent discipline by several universities. Undoubtedly, the study of money reveals important facts of economic and cultural life over the ages.
Several works surveying currency from the World War II period have already been published. In this work, Zvi Stahl provides an original approach to the historical study of the Holocaust by focusing on numismatics. What do coins, tokens and food stamps issued in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps reveal about the Holocaust? The significance of Jewish camp money unfolds in Stahl’s account. The author has provided an extensive survey of the money, tokens and food stamps issued in the Jewish camps accompanied by photographs of many examples. The introduction of discrete coins and bills in Jewish camps was not a widespread phenomenon. Few Jewish ghettos and camps established by the Nazis were ‘awarded’ special coins. As a rule, the Nazis degraded Jews, confiscated their property, enslaved them and finally massacred the Jewish population with little recourse to such a theatrical facade.
Stahl’s book familiarizes us with the coins, tokens and food stamps used in several of the thousands of Concentration Camps established during this bleak period in Germany and its occupied territorie. Yet only a handful of camp prisoners ever “benefited” from these meager bonuses and payments.
This survey of Camp money does not aim at providing an account of the atrocities of World War II. Instead, Stahl has embarked on the important task of documenting a previously ignored facet of the Holocaust. The coins and bills issues by the Nazis are in themlselves a lasting monument to camps such as Auchwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau and the Warsaw, Lodz and Theresienstadt Ghettos.
Locating, collecting and documenting the money used in Jewish camps is a difficult and cumbersone task requiring requiring knowledge and patience. I would like to praise the author for his encompassing and thorough work.
Dr. S. Krakovsky
Director, Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem