Anti-Semitism of the 1920's, 30's and 40's

As history has tragically shown, anti-Semitism was rampant in Germany and Nazi-occupied territories in the early-mid 20th century.  The items displayed here include correspondence from the Jewish ghetto in Otwock, Poland; books on supposed Jewish conspiracies; a broadside from occupied France ordering Jews to register with the authorities; and Stars of David worn by Polish and French Jews.

Also on display are several items on loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy, including the infamous children's books Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) and Trau Keinem Fuchs (Trust not the fox), and notgeld or "emergency money".

 Books intended for Children

Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom)

Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom)

Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom), 1938.
Story by Julius Streicher, illustrations by Fips.  
On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.

Trau Keinem Fuchs (Trust not the fox by field or pond, nor any Jew upon his bond), 1936.
Written by Elvira Bauer, published by Julius Streicher.
On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.


Books intended for Adults

Julius Streicher, Kampf dem Weltfeind, Nurnberg, 1938.
Anti-semitic speeches and writings by leading Nazi.
On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.


Der Untermensch.
Magazine contrasting German Aryans with "der untermensch"--the "sub-human" Jews and other undesirables.
On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.


 Die Judenfrage im Unterricht, 1937.
On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.

Ernest F. Elmhurst.  The World Hoax.  Asheville: Pelley, 1939.

Correspondence from the Jewish Ghetto in Otwock, Poland  

Located south of Warsaw, Otwock had a large Jewish community.  The Nazis imposed a ghetto in Otwock in the fall of 1940.  More than 12,000 Jews resided in the ghetto.  Two thousand Jews died of hunger, and another 2,000 were shot during the ghetto's liquidation in August 1942.  Most of the remaining residents of the ghetto were sent to Treblinka concentration camp.

Postcards from Syma Grzebieniarz, Otwock, Poland, to H.D. Schwartz, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1941. In Polish.

Letter in Yiddish, 20 March [1948], recounting the unknown writer's experience of the Otwock ghetto.

It speaks of conditions in the ghetto, neighbours who were killed by the Germans, the constant threat of being shot, fleeing the ghetto and attempting to locate people who are lost.


 Jewish Book Documenting Atrocities

Zaglada zydostwa polskiego, album zdjec. Extermination of Polish Jews, album of pictures.

Gerszon Taffet, Centraina Zydowska Komisja Historyczna w Polsce.  Lodz, 1945.



Stars of David

"Stars of David" as worn by Jews in France, Germany, and occupied Poland.



Ville de Champigny-sur-Marne.  Avis aux Israelites.

Small broadside signed by the mayor Gaston Chardin and dated September 26, 1940.

The text states:

Les Israelites will have to present themselves, with identity papers, at the City Hall of Champigny before October 2nd, last delay, in order to fill out a registration form.  Persons failing to obey this order within the prescribed period will expose themselves to the most severe measures.


Notgeld - German for "Emergency Money" or "necessity money"

On loan from Madeleine and Monte Levy.

During the early 20th century special money was issued in several countries, but primarily Germany and Austria, to deal with economic crisis situations.  There was a  shortage of small change, due to the need for metal to be used for the war effort rather than for coinage.  This emergency money was not issued by the central bank but by various other institutions, e.g. town savings banks, municipalities, private and state-owned firms.  It was therefore not legal tender, but rather a mutually accepted means of payment in a particular locale or site. (from Wikipedia).

As this exhibit depicts, much of the German and Austrian notgeld was anti-semitic in nature.


1921 2 Mark.

A Jew is chained around the neck to a pillar, while on the back a Jew holds a baby out a window over a German.


1921 German series 50 Pfennig, 1, 2, 5 Mark.

Issued on German Day, this note is known as the Elders of Zion and features 5 Jewish businessmen sitting around a table, "conspiring to gain control of global economics".

Glauchau in Saxony.

1921 3 Mark.

Celebrating German Culture but at the same time lamenting the troubles brought on the country after the First World War. Depicts a cavorting lady with Jewish types dancing around the column.


1921 Set of 3 Austrian notes, 30, 40 and 80 Heller in Green.

On the left we see an old Jew walking with a bag labeled "Hargeld" (gold and silver coins) in the direction of Switzerland.  Above we see the dates 1914-1919 and "Ursache" and "Folgen".  Cause and Consequences.  On the right side, we see a plane dumping out lots of paper money over towns and cities and the year 1921.  The meaning of this notes is certainly clear.  Jews absconded with the hard money during WWI from Austria and the result is the hyper inflation now affecting Austria.


1921 10, 25, 50 Pfennig notes.

A young Jewish man, the devil as a Jew and a goat butting a well dressed Jewish businessman.


1922 Set of 3 100 Pfennig notes.

These were printed in 1922 in the city of Sternberg in Germany to commemorate the anniversary of the burning at the stake in 1492 of a number of Jews for the practice of adding Christian children's blood to their matzo recipe.  The drawings on the money are copies of original wood blocks made at the time (1492).  The first shows the Jews adding the blood to the matzoh.  The second shows the Jews being burned at the stake.  The third shows a local priest offering the wafer to the Jews as a sign of conversion to Christianity which they refuse.


50 Pfennig 1921.

Depicts 2 Jewish profiteers being hung from a tree.

The Ghetto Notes of Theresienstadt.

The Nazis set aside an outside area of Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia for their “model” ghetto to be used for propaganda purposes.  It was shown off to the outside world to as an example of Nazi largess and was intended to thwart further outside inquiry. Within this serene façade lay the real concentration camp of sixty thousand Jews.

To create the effect of a model ghetto with a thriving economy the SS had special ghetto money printed. This local ghetto currency consisted of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 kronen notes. Each note was given the heading Quittung (coupon) for so many kronen. The notes were complete with series and serial numbers. All are dated 1 January 1943. The front of the note contained the Jewish six-pointed star, the place of issue (Theresienstadt) and the facsimile signature of the Jewish Elder Edelstein. The back of the notes carried a portrait of Moses holding the Ten Commandments within an oval. In the portrait Moses’ hand covers up the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. In an effort to make the notes sound convincing the following text was added: Wer diese quitting verfalscht oder nachmacht oder gefalschte quittungen in verkehr bringt wird strengstens besttraft” (Whoever alters or counterfeits this note will be severely punished).

Of course, there was no Theresienstadt bank and there was no backing for the notes. Having fulfilled their propaganda role, they were worthless and could buy nothing. The Jews made use of them in their card games.

A total of 139,000 Jews passed through Theresienstadt on their way to Auschwitz. In May 1945 the ghetto and its remaining 17,320 inhabitants were liberated.