The Forger: An Extraordinary Story of Survival in Wartime Berlin is the gripping story of a twenty-year-old who, through his talents at (ahem) reproducing papers with alternate information, saved lives.
It is hard to believe that a skill most often associated with crime actually protected people from the worst criminals of the twentieth century, Hitler and the Nazis. The ballsy life of Schonhaus reads like a brilliantly inventive novel which makes it all the more fascinating that this truly happened.
Dodging the bad guys because he was helping the persecuted to escape tyranny, alternating with dashing trysts with beautiful women, puts the exploits of James Bond to shame. Add to that publicly defending Jews and bicycling – yes, bicycling - his way to freedom.
This is the story of a real-life hero who managed to eke out a bit of pleasure while dealing with the inhumanity of war. Imagine a man who brazenly strides the streets even though his picture is posted by the Gestapo, who want at the very least to toss him into a concentration camp. This man has survived terror and treachery that few (thank God) ever witness and now safely resides in the peaceful beauty of Switzerland.
Read this book. Not because it is a breathless true action adventure story, although it certainly is, but because it gives readers a window into the inner strength and bravery of which all are capable but few actually practice.
The Forger is a great read but more importantly a great challenge for us to not just admire Schonhaus but to gauge our own willingness to be our brothers’ and sisters’ protector should the need arise.