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Service Exchange Tokens from Rushen Internment Camp

Date made: 1940

Maker: unknown

Description: Two service exchange tokens from Rushen Internment Camp. They are made from cut up cornflake (or similar) boxes, and are stamped in black ink ‘SERVICE TOKEN Rushen Internment Camp – Women’. The tokens belonged to Marie Rosenberg.

Austrian born Marie Rosenberg (internee number 2896) was working as a fresh water research biologist in Windermere before her arrest and internment at Rushen Camp on the Isle of Man in 1940. She had moved to the UK in 1933. Whilst interned on the Isle of Man it was believed she worked at the marine biological station in Port Erin and became friends with Ruth Borchard, one of the founder members of the Service Exchange which operated in the camp. Under the exchange work receipts, ‘service tokens’, were exchanged for goods or services. Essentially an artificial economy was established to provide internees with an income. These tokens were made from cutting up thousands of cornflake boxes and putting their rubber stamp on. At its height the Exchange employed over a thousand women, from occasional jobs to full time. By winter 1940 the rationing of material together with the increasing release of internees meant the scheme was unsustainable, and was finally liquidated in November 1941.

Marie Rosenberg was released in January 1941, but as a Category C ‘enemy alien’ was not able to return to Windermere, instead she was permitted to continue as an employee though based in Cambridge. Whilst in Cambridge, she and a number of fellow released internees continued to operate the Service Exchange seemingly bringing with them materials made in Rushen Camp to sell in Cambridge. We can see from the handwritten ‘Service Exchange Cash Book – Cambridge March 11 1941’ maintained by Marie Rosenberg the types of objects being sold in Cambridge. These include a good many shell necklaces, macramé belts, raffia animals and hats.

The tokens, together with a cardigan, box of shells and shell necklaces, the Cambridge Cash Book and other internment related archives were donated by Marie Rosenberg’s daughter in 2023.

Measurements: A: 4 x 3; B: 3.1 cm x 3 cm

Materials: shell

Object name: tokens

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2023-0044/3

Subject tags : #ww2internmentmuseumcollections


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