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80th anniversary of the Vrba-Wetzler report on the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp

€10 silver collector coin

The obverse side of the coin
The reverse side of the coin

More than a million lives were extinguished in the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp complex. It became a symbol of the extermination of Jews during the Second World War. Alfréd Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba were among the first not only to escape from the camp, but also to inform the world about the horrors of the industrial killing taking place there. Wetzler and Vrba, both Slovaks, met for the first time in Auschwitz in the summer of 1942. After surviving for almost two years, they noticed that the camp was being expanded in anticipation of an influx of new prisoners and decided to do all they could to prevent it. They escaped from the camp and made the 140-kilometre journey back to Slovakia. They arrived in Žilina on 25 April 1944 and gave an account of their experiences to representatives of the Slovak Jewish community. Their thirty-two page testimony became known as the Vrba-Wetzler report. It is one of the most important Slovak entries in the pages of world history and likely helped thwart the completion of Jewish deportations from Hungary.

  • Coin description

    The obverse depicts a large triangle composed of small triangles referring to the system of marking the death camp’s prisoners. The design and triangle are bisected by a vertical line, partly overlain by a cartographic representation of a railway. Each half features a semicircle of raised dots representing the camp’s guard posts. In the lower left of the large triangle is a teddy bear symbolising the personal effects of the camp victims. On the right side, partly overlying the triangle, are the prisoner numbers assigned to Alfréd Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba. The design also includes the Slovak coat of arms, the year of issuance ‘2024’, the name of the issuing country ‘SLOVENSKO’, and the mint mark of the Kremnica Mint.

    The reverse is bisected by a vertical line, to the left of which is half of an inverse triangle filled with variously sized small triangles. To the right of the line are two male figures, representing Vrba and Wetzler escaping from prison. The year they wrote their report, ‘1944’, is inscribed on the upper right side. Running diagonally across the lower right quadrant are the names ‘ALFRÉD WETZLER’ and ‘RUDOLF VRBA’, one above the other. Next to them are the stylised initials ‘IŘ’, referring to the coin’s designer Ivan Řehák. The design also features raised dots representing the camp’s guard posts. Inscribed in the lower left are the coin’s denomination ‘10’ and currency ‘EURO’.

  • Coin details
    Designer:Ivan Řehák
    Composition:.900 silver, .100 copper
    Weight:18 g
    Diameter:34 mm
    (Nothing overcomes the courage to confront evil)
    Producer:Kremnica Mint
    Engraver:Dalibor Schmidt
    Issuing volume:5,800 coins in brilliant uncirculated quality                        
    13,500 coins in proof quality
    Issuing date:17 April 2024