Objects in Focus

This 20 Kronen bank note was issued in Theresienstadt and carries the serial number 016048. It has the Star of David to the left of the note and the serial number 016048. The reverse side of the note has Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The money is issued as 'Jewish' money. Does not have a security foil. 

Nazi propaganda depicted deported Jewish people as a productive labour force in the East. Since use of elderly people as forced labourers seemed unlikely, the ghetto at Theresienstadt was used as a propaganda measure to conceal the reality of what was happening. Ghetto 'currency' played a part of this deception; on January 1, 1943 the Bank of Jewish Self Administration (Bank der Judischen Selbstverwaltung) was established to portray the image that Theresienstadt had a form of economy and provided access to facilities. The Theresienstadt Kronen went into circulation and the bank opened its doors on May 12, 1943 although it was not possible for people to withdraw money from accounts. On arrival deportees had to exchange all their money and assets into the ghetto 'currency', which had no monetary value.

The currency and image of normality it helped to portray played a part in convincing members of the Red Cross that prisoners at Theresienstadt were receiving acceptable treatment, despite the reality. Two delegates from the International Red Cross and one from the Danish Red Cross arrived on June 23, 1944. They had previously witnessed ghetto conditions in Poland and were expecting to encounter similar conditions, instead they found Theresienstadt in its 'prepared' state. Nazi authorities took serious measures to disguise conditions, to decrease overcrowding in preparation for the visit over 7,500 people were deported from the ghetto to Auschwitz between May 16-18, 1944. People had to 'beautify' the ghetto, stage a football game, and put on a performance of Brundibár in a hall built as part of 'preparation'. Despite clues such as the bruised face of Eppstein, who was instructed to play the part of 'mayor of Theresienstadt', the visitors left convinced Theresienstadt was an acceptable resettlement location. Following the visit deportations from Theresienstadt resumed and would not cease until October 1944.

Learn more about Theresienstadt


Feinstein, Stephen (2005) ‘Art and Imagery of the Ghetto – During and After the Holocaust’, in Sterling, Eric (ed) Life in the Ghettos During the Holocaust New York: Syracuse University Press, pp. 191-219.

Shlain, Margalit ‘The Bank of the Jewish Self-administration’, Beit Theresienstadt: Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association [Online]. http://www.bterezin.org.il/120869/The-Bank-of-the-Jewish-Self-administration (Accessed 17 January 2015).

Tsweb (2009) ‘Theresienstadt: notes as a disguise of sheer misery’ (3 June 2009), Museum of the National Bank of Belgium [Online]. Available at: http://www.nbbmuseum.be/2009/06/theresienstadt.htm (Accessed 17 January 2015).

Collections overview

Please let us know what you think about our online learning programme by completing this survey. Thank you.

© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum