During World War II, nearly perfect English pound notes were produced by Jewish prisoners in German camps. This operation ( the second of its type ) was code named ” Bernhard ” after its director and was to have been used to destabilize the British for eventual defeat by the Nazis.
The counterfeiting of the currency of the opponent was a long standing practice used by the Duke Galeazzo Sforza of Milan ( 15th Century ), by the British in the hopes of bringing the Continentals to their knees, and the British again in World War I against the Turks …..
In 1942, the German Brigadier General Doerner visited several concentration camps culling Jews with special talents, including engravers, printers, designers, bankers etc. of more than 10 different nationalities. They were promised better living conditions and a special enclave within Germany to live after the final victory, if they would help produce a perfect copy of the British money of the time.
There were more than 100 security checks in these uniface ( one sided ) British pound notes to be re – worked. And so, after several months of attempts and failures, the near perfect notes were being cranked out in large numbers. So good were these fakes that several of these Jews received distinguished decorations for their service to the Nazi Government. Fortunately, the Bank of England got wind of this scheme fairly early on, but none-the-less many thousands of these notes, were passed.
This genuine Bernhard £ note is in overall nice condition, considering that part of the process of making the perfect note was to give them that used look ( poking holes, fraying the edges, pulling off a bit of corner, quarter folding them etc. )