Nazi fake pound notes for auction

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


A rare fake £20 pound note printed by nazi will be aution today. The note is expected to fetch £400 when it goes under the hammer at Mullock's auction house in Ludlow, Shropshire. It is blank on one side and the other has Britannia at the top and is dated October 1937 and "promises to pay the bearer." The fake note printed by the Nazis in a scheme to ruin the British economy by flooding the country with fake cash. British intelligence got wind of the scheme in 1939 and countered the counterfeiting so successfully that the Bank of England recorded just one as having been paid out.

"These notes are incredibly rare because most were destroyed and they are quite fragile. The operation was halted by the Germans in 1945 and it is thought that the majority of the notes was dumped in Lake Toplitz in Austria. Collectors are keen to own one of these fakes as they rarely come up for sale." Richard Westwood Brookes, from Mullock's said.

Operation Bernhard was launched before the war and the plan was to print money. The Germans forced Jews in a concentration camp to forge £134 million worth of notes and they had 100 agents ready to put the money into circulation in the UK. This notes which in the 1940s would have had the buying power of £600 today has emerged from a private a collector and is now being sold.

The Nazis began printing the backdated five, 10, 20 and 50 pound notes in 1942 and created nine million of them valuing 134 million pounds. Some continued in circulation after the war and resulted in the Bank of England withdrawing all notes with a value of more than five pounds. And it was not until the 1970s that notes with the denomination of £20 started appearing again. Ironically for the Germans, the possession of this money became a major factor in identifying Nazi agents and led to many successful arrests.

The counterfeiting was carried out at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany. After it was evacuated of the operation was transferred to Redl-Zipf in Austria, a subsidiary camp of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. At the beginning of May 1945, the team was ordered to be transferred to Ebensee subsidiary camp, where they were to be killed together. However, the prisoners revolted and were saved.


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