The Forger

Cioma Schonhaus

Published: 7 January 2008
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 200 pages
ISBN: 9781862079878

Translated by Alan J. Bance


In wartime Berlin, Cioma Schonhaus discovered a way of turning his talent for graphic design to good use: he forged documents which helped save hundreds of Jewish lives. His first challenge involved painstakingly recreating each of the twelve long and twenty-four short feathers on the German Imperial Eagle so that a pass stood up to scrutiny by Nazi officials. Many more forged documents were to follow, as the twenty-year-old Schonhaus attempted to stay one step ahead of the authorities. Schonhaus is breathtakingly bold - he gets himself arrested for wandering onto a military airfield and manages to talk his way out; he makes a complaint about the drunken behaviour of a policeman harassing Jewish diners in a restaurant; he goes cycling with a girlfriend in the countryside at a time when Jews were subject to curfew and banned from riding bicycles. On his final 1000-mile flight from Germany, he is forced to abandon his plan to jump on a goods train bound for Switzerland and is left with the option of swimming across the Lake Constance or cycling all the way ... As those around him are one by one deported to the concentration camps, his is an astonishing story of survival.

About the author

Image of Cioma Schonhaus

Cioma Schonhaus was born in Berlin in 1922 to Russian immigrant parents. He studied graphic design and did numerous jobs in the early years of the Second World War. From 1942-3 he remained in Berlin illegally, forging documents for other Jews. While on the Gestapo's wanted list, he escaped armed with papers he'd made himself by cycling into Switzerland, where he still lives today. More about the author

Mind Unit - websites, content management and email marketing for the arts