WWII Era Warsaw Ghetto Banknote



The original paper banknote, or some would argue stamp measures 15cm x 10cm.  The new frame measures 36cm x 32cm.

Produced by the Jewish underground in Spring 1941, these notes may never have made it into circulation.  The four page article that accompanies the banknote, reads that sets of un-issued paper currency notes with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 denominations are usually found in uncirculated condition.  Between 50 and 100 sets were discovered in the 1950’s, sold to an Austrian stamp dealer by a former SS officer and were then split up and re-sold.  The  RZwW and SPDZ spelt out in full reads Rada Zydow w Warszwie (Jewish Postal Authorities) and Skladnica Pocztowa Dzielnicy Zydowskiej (Jewish Council in Warsaw).  This note features the 18 point Jewish star, a picture of a barbed wire fence and a flame containing the symbol of the Nazi SS.  The 18 stars are a significant number in Judaism; 18 in Hebrew letters means “Chai” or “life” and also hope.  The wire fence and SS symbol are self explanatory.  The notes would have been crudely lino or wood cut prepared and printed.  The only colour used is blue – a colour long associated with Judaism and also of the flag of the uprising.  Lower denomination notes were required for small change (which became scarce in the Warsaw Ghetto Post Office) and are consistent with the amount of the surcharge for delivery within the ghetto. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum considers these notes to be stamps issued by the Resistance Organisation.  As author of the article Tony James writes, “Whatever the result of the investigations, the items remind the collector of a dark time in history that must never be forgotten.”