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"Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust"

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A traveling exhibit from the Holocaust Museum Houston called "Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust" opened March 1 at the ITOW Veterans Museum in Perham.

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Holocaust currency is a subject that few people know about. There are only a handful of survivors who recall the existence of scrip in the camps and ghettos. The Nazis made it illegal for residents of the camps and ghettos to have hard currency and required that money be "exchanged" for scrip.

In reality, the scrip was worthless as there was nothing for prisoners to buy inside the camps, and it had no value outside the camps. The purpose for issuing scrip was to create the façade that prisoners were being paid for their labor and treated well. 

This show is a sampling of the extensive Charlton E. Meyer Jr. and Gloria Meyer Collection of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Meyer, a numismatist (money historian) and money and coin collector from Louisiana, has been accumulating camp and ghetto scrip since the 1980s. Meyer donated more than 400 pieces to the museum in 2002. It is the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust scrip in the United States, and many of the artifacts are extremely rare. The piece of scrip from the Natzweiler camp in France is the only known piece in the world.

The money in this collection is, in some cases, the only reminder we have of the people erased from our world during World War II.  As such they are a silent reminder bearing witness to the tragedy, depravity, horror, hope and salvation of the time. Through its breadth and depth, this exhibit bears witness to the full scope of the Holocaust.

This exhibition is generously underwritten by Kempner Capital Management, Inc.; The Wortham Foundation, Inc.; BP America; Bridgeway Foundation; Gainer, Donnelly & Desroches; The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund; and Marathon Oil Corporation, with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

The exhibit includes 90 pieces of scrip (money) issued in 12 concentration camps, plus photos of the camps and text panels.

The ITOW Veterans Museum is located at 805 West Main, Perham. Winter hours are Monday-Saturday 11-4, Sunday 1-4. For more information call 218-346-7678 or visit their website www.ITOWmuseum.org.

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