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The Bank of the Camp IID Gross Born, by Tomasz Sluszkiewicz.



     

In Gross Born in Pomerania(now Wielkie Bory near Jastrowo, Poland), were located two prisoner of war(POW) camps; IID and IIE.

Camp IID(the so-called "upper "camp) was for French prisoners until the second half of 1943. After relocating them at the end of 1943 around 3000 Polish officers and a few hundred lower ranks were placed there.
Camp IIE(the so-called "lower" camp) held Russian prisoners until 1943. Later, at the end of 1943 around 3000 Polish officers from the camp in Neubrandenburg were placed there.
In May 1944, all prisoners from the "upper" camp were moved to the "lower". This joint camp received the name "Oflag IID". In this camp around 6000 Polish officers and a few hundred sergeants and soldiers lived. Prisoners and the camp's administration were located in 70 barracks. The camp was 1 km long and 0.5 km wide.
Prisoners were divided into battalions, and then into companies. The representative of prisoners, "The Oldest of the Camp" was elected from higher ranking officers, he was also in charge of the camp. In the camp there were several active prisoners' organizations; theatre, post office, printing house, consignment store etc.

photo 1. Camp's graphic from postcard "Coming home"
Mandated by the Geneva Convention of 1929, prisoners of war were entitled to be paid a monthly salary, according to seniority. For example:
  • -Second Lieutenant 72 mk,
  • -Lieutenant 84 mk,
  • -Captain 96 mk.
The Germans paid this salary in POW's camp money -Lagergeld(photo 2). The money was used to pay for camp settlements of accounts and services. Prisoners could decide to transfer the money to their families, in this case the German administration sent the money order in circulating currency; in German marks or GG zloty.
photo 2. Prisoner of War camp money(Kriesgefangenen Lagergeld) general issue; 10 marks.

In October 1944, actual paying out of salaries was stopped, and instead of receiving notes, the amounts were deposited to the prisoner's account. At this time prisoners requested "The Oldest of the Camp" to create their own financial institution, the "Bank of the Oflag IID" (Bank Obozu IID).
Official permission was granted, and all the formalities fulfilled. A monetary unit was called a "piast", and was divided into 100 groszy. (Piast was the name of the first Polish king's dynasty. It was never used as a name for monetary units, but in 1919 in the independent Poland, one proposition was to name a new Polish monetary unit "piast". Then, in 1924, after Grabski's monetary reform, the name "zloty" won). Currency was covered by cigarettes, deposited in the bank's vault. One box of American or British cigarettes was equal to 10 piast. Banknotes were printed in the camp printing house, with emission date October 16, 1944. They were put into circulation on November 1, 1944. In circulation were the following banknotes (photo 3);

photo 3. Banknotes of the Bank Camp IID; 10 groszy, 50 groszy, 1 piast

The translation of the text on the 1 piast banknote reads; "Bank of Camp IID, 1 Piast 1, 16.X.44, Legal tender in camp IID, Board, signatures". All banknotes had a violet circular bank stamp depicting the Polish eagle and surrounded by the text: "Bank of Camp IID".

center
photo 4. Check form of Bank Camp IID; check #9 account #186

The Bank of Camp IID was not only an emission institution, but also provided financial services. Prisoners had the opportunity to have their own bank accounts, and also checking accounts in piast (photo 4). The translation of the text on the check reads: "Nr(account & check number)... P(iast)...gr(oszy)...., Bank of the Camp IID, will pay - transfer with this check ,..., ..., debited on my account, G-Born, date..."
Because the new currency was legal tender in Camp IID, all financial institutions were keeping the books and the accounts in the new currency. The Camp's Post office began to issue stamps in the new Polish currency -groszy, before it had been issued in pfennigs.
The printing was done in the camp printing house. The technique used was similar to the printing of the camp's postal stamps. The matrix was engraved in pear wood. The printing was done by means of a primitive printing press. In a hollow of the table was mounted the matrix. Then paint was smeared on the matrix using cloth roller. Next, the paper was put on and pressed with the rubber roller. The paper and paint used in the printing house was delivered to prisoners by the YMCA from Stockholm and by the International Red Cross from Geneva.

Camp IID was evacuated on January 28, 1945. All prisoners able to walk were lead west to camp XA. Those who were to weak were left in the camp.

References
  1. John Glynn "Money used by Polish Officers in German Prison Camps in World War II" Paper Money SPMC, 1982
  2. Jozef Machowski "Poczta Polska Obozu IID Gross Born" PZF Krakow 1963
  3. Lance K. Campbell "Prisoners of the War and Concentration Camp Money" BNR Press, 1993
  4. Tadeusz Jablonski "Katalog papierowych pieniedzy polskich 1794-1965"
The author welcomes hearing from anyone who may have any additional information regarding this subject, please e-mail: ats@atsnotes.com

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