Object ID


Object Name

Money, Paper





Download Full Text (3.1 MB)


Three pieces of paper money with black and red illustrations. The first shows Jews adding blood to matzoh, the second shows Jews being burned at the stake, and the third shows a priest offering the wafer to the Jews.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

These 100 pfennig Sternberg “Notgeld” notes from 1922 were intended to commemorate the burning at the stake in 1492 of 27 Jews accused of the Eucharistic sacrilege of using the blood of Christian children for making matzah, the unleavened bread used in Passover seders. The correct order of these images would therefore be: 1) the Priest Peter Dane selling consecrated wafers representing the body of Christ to the gathered Jews as a symbol of offering Jews conversion to Christianity; 2) an image of the Jews stabbing the wafers - seen here mixed with blood - symbolizing the Jews’ responsibility in killing Christ; a rejection of Jesus and Christianity; and the blood libel charge -common in medieval Europe and thereafter - of murdering a Christian child to use in the process of making the Passover matzah. Thus, historical charges against the Jews which form the basis of religious antisemitism are herein conflated; and 3) the pogrom enacted against the Jews - burning them at the stake - for their alleged crimes.

Notgeld - emergency currency - was common during the Weimar Republic’s period of hyperinflation. Towns and villages would issue their own currency - with the Reichsbank’s eventual approval - often artistically rendered with attractive scenes or local heroes reflecting a town’s pride of place. Thus Notgeld did not always carry a reference to antisemitic themes or political issues. Yet antisemitic Notgeld anticipated themes that would be taken up in a few short years with the Nazi party’s rise to power. The medieval inheritance of antisemitism founded on religious and historical differences - vividly depicted in the Sternberg Notgeld - would be subsumed in the Third Reich by a virulent secular anti-Judaism based on race and immutably rooted in the blood and ancestry. The Jew would undergo a transformation from a pariah scapegoated during periods of social and economic unrest to a pathogen who must be expunged from the body politic.

The fledgling Nazi party had already come into existence before these notes were printed. In a mere 11 years Hitler and his minions would wield power in Germany. Martin Luther’s splenetic antisemitic screeds denouncing Jews amid his growing frustrations with them would lead ineluctably down the centuries to the materialization and enactment of Heinrich Heine’s prophetic warning: where books are burned, they will in the end burn people.


3 1/8 x 4 1/8"


Money, Currency, Notgeld, Sternberg, Commemoration



Antisemitic Notgeld German Currency



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.