How a WWII-era forger saved lives, one fake document at a time

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tags: France, WWII, Adolfo Kaminsky



It's well known the French government collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two, helping send tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths. What is less well known are the heroic efforts by members of underground resistance groups to save Jews in France. Many of those who risked their lives are now gone or have been reluctant to share their stories. 92-year-old Adolfo Kaminsky was a Jewish teenager when he joined the French resistance. He had a unique talent he had picked up while working at a dry cleaners, an expertise that helped him become one of the greatest forgers in France during the war.  Incredibly, he and the resistance networks he worked with created fake identity documents that helped save the lives of as many as 14,000 Jewish men, women, and children.

Hitler's army entered Paris with a massive show of force. German troops marched past the Arc de Triomphe and raised the Nazi war flag over a stunned city.  Hitler personally attended the surrender ceremony. The Nazis took control of Paris, but relied on French authorities and police to begin to identify Jews and round them up. As part of Hitler's final solution, tens of thousands of Jews, and others targeted by the Nazis in France were arrested and loaded onto trains bound for Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

French resistance networks tried to save as many Jews as possible -- especially children -- giving them fake identity papers and smuggling them across the border -- or hiding them in farms, schools and convents in France.  Adolfo Kaminsky was just 18 when he began to work as a forger for the resistance.




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