“Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life,” by Sarah Kaminsky. Trans. Mike Mitchell

DoppelHouse Press. 256 pages. Trade paperback $18.95.

 finalcover-kaminsky-webSarah Kaminsky provides a brilliant biography of an enormously complex, creative, and heroic individual: her father.

Based on Adolfo Kaminsky’s extensive answers to his daughter’s questions, Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life was first published in French in 2009 and was subsequently released in many European languages before reaching English readers.

Adolfo with daughter Sarah.

Adolfo with daughter Sarah. Credit Amit Israeli

Adolfo Kaminsky’s remarkable journey was powered by intelligent longing and a deep, engaging sensitivity to personal destiny, Jewish peoplehood, and freedom. As a teenager, Adolfo (who wore many names in many roles) was fascinated by chemistry and technology. During the Nazi occupation of France, he became an important member of the Resistance movement—a collection of loosely linked organizations attempting to undermine Nazi domination and save lives in one way or another.

One important initiative of the Resistance was its provision of convincing identity documents that would fool authorities, which enabled many would-be victims of the Holocaust to avoid arrest (or worse) with these false papers and even cross the borders of Europe to freedom and safety. Adolfo became an essential player, managing to hide his own identity and activities while mastering the art of forgery. This art included the fabrication of authentic-seeming papers, inks, dyes, seals, solvents, and bindings of all kinds, as well as typography, signature forging, stain removal, and the production of rubber stamps. Adolfo invented solutions to technical problems and also developed skill as a photographer, which quickly proved itself another useful tool in his forgery career—and something he could use to support himself: though often starving, Adolfo took no money for his forgery efforts. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears on the Jewish Book Council web site, click here: Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life by Sarah Kaminsky | Jewish Book Council Review

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