Crash Course: More Little Known History – Sunday Edition

In the continuing series of the lesser-known items of world history that have been omitted or forgotten…

money kite

1923: A boy with a kite made of banknotes in Hanover, Germany, during the post-war hyperinflation when escalating inflation rendered much currency worthless.

Money Kite

In order to pay the large costs of the First World War, Germany suspended the convertibility of its currency into gold when that war broke out. Unlike France, which imposed its first income tax to pay for the war, the German Kaiser and Parliament decided without opposition to fund the war entirely by borrowing, a decision criticized by financial experts.

The result was that the exchange rate of the Mark against the US dollar fell steadily throughout the war from 4.2 to 8.91 Marks per dollar. The Treaty of Versailles further accelerated the decline in the value of the Mark, so that by the end of 1919 more than 32 Marks were required to buy one US dollar and it grew more in the beginning of the 1920’s.

freedom rider

Winonah Myers is shown in her arrest photo in 1961.

The Freedom Rider

Her name is Winonah Myers and she was a white student at the historically black Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Arrested for being a Freedom Rider, she stayed in Parchman for her full 6-month sentence, the only Freedom Rider to serve a full term. “I felt there should be a little historical footnote that for sitting next to a friend on the bus who just happened to be black, this was the punishment meted out,” she added. “I didn’t think it would be recorded if no one had done the time.” said Myers so she refused bail.

the list

Part of the first page of an original Schindler’s List, detailing names of hundreds of Jews that were saved by the German businessman Oskar Schindler.

Schindler’s List

In 2000, the original list of Jewish employees drawn up by Oskar Schindler to save them from the Nazis was discovered in a suitcase full of papers left to a German couple. The couple, relatives of close friends of Schindler, found the list of 1,200 workers among other papers which deal mainly with Schindler’s life after World War II.

The list is on letterhead for Schindler’s enamelware factory in Krakow. Schindler wrote the names and jobs of 1,200 Jews at the Plaszow concentration camp and gave the list to the Nazi SS. No one at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, had ever seen the original list.

A second list, the one that appears in the 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” was created a month before the war ended. Schindler made up that list with fictitious jobs for each worker to convince the SS that they were vital to the war effort:

L. = list number, Ln. = line number, Rel. = religion, Natn. = nationality, H. No = prisoner number.

On the Web:

Freedom Riders – The Pop History Dig

Oskar Schindler – Schindler’s List