The purpose of this website, which we intend to update on a regular basis, is to address the lack of factual information about one of the lesser known areas among the myriad of Third Reich period paper items. Das Lagergeld der Konzentrationslagers (Camp Money of the Concentration Camps), is an area that unfortunately, is often ignored or incorrectly documented. Numerous examples, both legitimate and not, will be shown throughout the site accompanied by information and tips for collectors and students alike.
Initially, we would like to address one of the most common questions related to this subject, i.e. "Why was money created for use within the camps...?"
There are several reasons...
Firstly, to create an incentive for the prisoners to work harder. As the war progressed and fortunes turned against Nazi Germany, more and more people were required to serve at the front, resulting in a depleted workforce to supply the arms and munitions etc. Concentration camps were filling up with manpower that was exploited by the regime to perform this task. Prisoners were often awarded tokens/scrip/coupons/notes for their efforts whilst performing forced labour activities. Companies who paid the SS for the use of the prisoners as slave labour, also paid money for tokens which were later issued as a reward for increased performance.
Secondly, the fact that the SS wanted to humiliate their prey is no revelation, but exchanging fake money for real money, further added to the prisoner's misery and low self esteem.
The Nazi use of propaganda is legendary, and the visits of the Red Cross for example, were patently used as opportunities to mislead the outside world. Having prisoners walk around with money, with which they were able to go shopping with, albeit on an extremely limited basis, further hid the true reality of life inside the camps and ghettos.
In some locations, prisoners actually exchanged real money or other valuables for camp notes. This meant that the SS received real money, in exchange for almost worthless tokens.
Prisoners also could not use the tokens outside of the camps, so escape would be rendered even more difficult with no means to sustain the prisoner, should he or she find themselves outside the camp.