A man who lived half of his life forging
Here is a man who lived half of his life as an illegal forger. But after his death, people do not label him as a forger. On the contrary, they call him the great forging Master. Today, the story is dedicated to the great Master.
In 1925, In Argentina, a child was born to a couple, Anna Kaminsky and Salomon Kaminsky. His name is Adolfo Kaminsky.
Adolfo Kaminsky's parents originally had Russian citizenship. However, when the persecution of Jews was intensified due to Russian pogroms that began in 1884, the family moved to Argentina to avoid it. They wanted to live in France, which led them to move to France in the early 1990s. But when the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, the family were labeled as Reds in France. Eventually, they got deported back to Argentina.
The family still wanted to settle in France, so they came back to Marseille, but they got deported back to Turkey again. Turkey refers to what is now Türkiye. In the process, Adolfo Kaminsky experienced extreme poverty. At this point, the young Kaminsky recognized the importance of legal documents. Without them, humans are like ghosts, he thought.
In 1932, again, the family settled in Paris. And Next, they moved to Vire and finally to Normandy in 1938.
After finishing elementary school there, Adolfo Kaminsky got a job at a dyeing factory to make a living. While working as an assistant there, he demonstrated his endowed talent for dyeing and ink.
In 1941, his mother, Anna Kaminsky, was killed by the Nazis. In 1943, the family were arrested by the German army and held in Caen prison, and moved to Drancy camp. The fate of the Jews in the Drancy Camp was usually to face the Holocaust.
But with the intervention of the Argentine consulate, they are released. So they could saved their lives in the face of death.
And the family came into contact with the Resistance to acquire counterfeit documents. Recognizing Kaminsky's talent, the Resistance accepted him as an agent.
At that time, the Jewish organization, the General Jewish Union, was forging identification cards to save Jews from the Holocaust. There was a watermark on every identification card of a Jew, which was not easy to erase. Kaminsky proposed a method using lactic acid to erase it.
As it proved effective, Kaminsky began to work on document forgery in earnest. His laboratory was created to make real counterfeits. And he forged the identification cards that France and the Benelux countries needed.
By forging identification cards, he saved more than 14,000 Jews during World War II. Of course, making fake identification cards wasn't all that smooth.
He was once caught in an inspection while carrying about 50 fake identification cards in a bag. At that time, Kaminsky was only an 18-year-old young man. He used his wit to offer the checkpoint sentry one of the sandwiches in his bag. This way, he got out of the danger.
Once he had to make 900 fake documents for about 300 children for just three days. In order to complete the task in time, he had to forge 30 documents in an hour. He says.
"The calculation was simple. In one hour, I could make 30 forged documents. If I slept an hour 30 people would die. I made and made while trying not to fall asleep. The most terrifying thing was to make any technical mistakes."
His efforts to save lives continued after World War II. After the liberation of France, he was once hired as a secret agent for the French military. But when the Indochina War broke out, he quitted it on the ground that he did not want to be involved in the colonial war.
Instead, he continued to forge documents for Holocaust survivals. It was to help them get into the Palestinian territories that were then claimed to British.
He also helped Algerians who were discriminated against in France. In this process, he met a woman named Leila, to whom he got married later.
There are many countries which he helped. Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, El Salvador, Chile, Mexico, once colonized Greece, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and so forth. It's hard to list them one by one.
He also created forged documents for young people who refused to participate in the Vietnam War in the United States. In 1962, he made counterfeit 100 francs. He was trying to help the National Liberation Front of Algeria by unstablizing the French economy.
But By the time Israel was founded, he refused to work for it on the ground that he won’t help any religious states. In 1971, an Anti-Apartheid group in South Africa asked him for document forgery. But he sensed that there was an apartheid secret police behind the task. It was a trap to put him on a criminal charge. After knowing this, he completely finished doing document forgery.
After that, he lived in typical jobs such as photographer, color expert, art imitation, and copying film photographs. Aprat from it, once in 1951, he had collaborated with the famous decorator Alexandre Trauner in Marcel Carné's film "Juliette ou la Clef des songes".
He had five children with his wife. Three of them were born in Algeria. One of his children is Rocé Kaminsky, well known as a rapper. Another one is Sarah Kaminsky, a writer.
On January 9, 2023, he died at the age of 97. His forgery of documents was all illegal by law at his time. But now people in the world do not label him as a forger. He's now the great forging master. He won’t be got paid for his forgery work. The words he left make it easy for all of us to understand why he deserves to be called a great forging master.
"Of course everything I did was illegal. But if what is legal is inhuman, we must fight back."
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