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Stamping out oppression

Started by Figleaf, August 14, 2008, 10:53:24 PM

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Figleaf

Here's a piece that means a lot to me. It is a cigarette extinguisher made of coins in the early 1940's (I hope, since it is impossible to ascertain exactly when the piece was made). The piece was put together from three coins, a half cent, a five cent and the base is a cent. When the Nazis invaded the country, they thought they could convince the Dutch royal house to play along. When that didn't happen, the royal family escaped and actively agitated against them, the Nazi government decided to eradicate all memories of them. The royal coin cabinet became the state coin cabinet, for instance, and the coins were withdrawn as soon as they could be replaced with zinc counterparts. Even possessing an old coin could lead to a fine, but coin collections, except those of jews, were exempted.

In this way, the old coins became tokens of resistance and a piece like this, kept indoors, would in principle not be too risky for the owner. However, there's more. The piece would have worked just as well without the cut half cent, but it was added for a purpose. When you add up the three values, you arrive at six and a quarter (half of a half) cent. This value is zes 'n kwart in Dutch, which was the nickname of Seyss-Inquart, head of the puppet government of the Netherlands during the occupation. (The nickname came not only from the closeness of the value and the name, but also from the fact that Seyss-Inquart limped.) Therefore, this piece was a silent political joke. You could pick up zes 'n kwart and hold his butt to the fire of a cigarett butt or stamp out the fire wildly to show your frustration or make snide remarks like "I hope it won't melt from the heat" (standard answer "don't worry, it's hotter in hell") or "it's even lighter than I thought"

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

tonyclayton

A very interesting item.  My cousin's husband's parents lived in Amsterdam during the war, and recounted many tales of their experiences during 1944 and 1945, when starvation threatened; father was but a young child, and thus could safely carry messages around as he was less likely to be stopped and questioned by the occupying forces.

A grim time which we hope will never be repeated.

chrisild

Quote from: Galapagos on October 09, 2008, 12:39:34 AM
I occasionally wonder where the "Inquart" part of the said Nazi's name comes from. It certainly doesn't seem German, with that "qu" in it.
His family was from (what today is) the Czech Republic, moved to Vienna abot 100 years ago and, on that occasion, picked the name Seyß-Inquart. Sure is not common, but why should it not be Austrian or German?

Christian

chrisild

As far as I know, the "q" only occurs in the combination "qu" in German. That character combo is pronounced like ... well, "kv" comes close. But I'm pretty sure that German cities such as Quedlinburg, Quakenbrück or Querfurt have no intention to get new names. ;)

Christian