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Krueger's men : the secret Nazi counterfeit plot and the prisoners of Block 19 / Lawrence Malkin.

By: Malkin, Lawrence.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2006Edition: First edition.Description: xi, 287 pages, [8] pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0316057002; 9780316057004; 9780316067508 (pbk.); 0316067504 (pbk.).Subject(s): Operation Bernhard, Germany, 1940-1945 | World War, 1939-1945 -- Counterfeit money -- Great Britain | World War, 1939-1945 -- Conscript labour -- Poland -- Oświęcim | World War, 1939-1945 -- Conscript labour -- Poland -- OswiecimDDC classification: 940.54/8743 Online resources: Table of contents only Review: "Two weeks after the start of World War II, at a meeting that has remained a secret for more than fifty years, Hitler's top spies and the managers of Nazi Germany's finances approved a bold plot to destroy England: they would contrite British pounds - millions and millions of them - scatter them over the United Kingdom, and destabilize the British economy." "If only, as the Nazis soon discovered, it were that easy. With complex engraving and mysteriously unique paper, the pound notes turned out to be nearly impossible to fake. Frustrated by early failures. The SS put a meticulous engineering officer named Bernhard Krueger in charge of the secret plot, and he swiftly enlisted a group of highly skilled printers and craftsmen in the effort. But there was still a final piece missing: an experienced counterfeiter of the highest caliber." "It turned out that he was easily located: Smolianoff, a Jew, was interned in a concentration camp, barely avoiding extermination by serving as the camp's artist." "What happened next is the stuff of great fiction, except that it's all true."--BOOK JACKET.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The true story that inspired the Oscar-winning movie The Counterfeiters. "An astonishing and exciting tale. The drama of how the Nazis mounted a complex counterfeiting operation inside a concentration camp is matched by the chilling life-or-death saga of the prisoners involved. It reads like a thriller, but it's all true." -Walter Isaacson, author of The Wise Men and Benjamin Franklin Only a fortnight after the start of WWII, at a meeting that has remained a secret for more than half a century, Nazi leaders and officials of the German Reichsbank approved an audacious plot to counterfeit millions of British pounds. Drawing upon top-secret bank records, German and British correspondence, and interrogation transcripts, Lawrence Malkin reveals how an unremarkable SS officer named Bernhard Krueger attempted to bring down the world financial system. But when Krueger discovered that forging pounds, and later dollars, was no easy task, he made a crucial decision: he would seek out the greatest counterfeiters of pre-war Europe and enlist them in the effort. He found them in an unexpected place: a Nazi concentration camp. KRUEGER'S MEN is the remarkable story of how these Jews managed to save themselves. Part Schindler's List, part The Great Escape, this account of the Nazi plot is a fascinating portrait of deception, courage, and moral awakening.

Includes bibliographical references (p. [253]-261) and index.

"Two weeks after the start of World War II, at a meeting that has remained a secret for more than fifty years, Hitler's top spies and the managers of Nazi Germany's finances approved a bold plot to destroy England: they would contrite British pounds - millions and millions of them - scatter them over the United Kingdom, and destabilize the British economy." "If only, as the Nazis soon discovered, it were that easy. With complex engraving and mysteriously unique paper, the pound notes turned out to be nearly impossible to fake. Frustrated by early failures. The SS put a meticulous engineering officer named Bernhard Krueger in charge of the secret plot, and he swiftly enlisted a group of highly skilled printers and craftsmen in the effort. But there was still a final piece missing: an experienced counterfeiter of the highest caliber." "It turned out that he was easily located: Smolianoff, a Jew, was interned in a concentration camp, barely avoiding extermination by serving as the camp's artist." "What happened next is the stuff of great fiction, except that it's all true."--BOOK JACKET.

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Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

Former Time correspondent Malkin tells a remarkable, little-known story from WWII: the Nazis' use of concentration camp prisoners to produce counterfeit British (and later American) currency and dump it to sabotage the Allied economies. Some readers might find Malkin's setup a bit slow, but the main events, deeply researched and tautly narrated, form a tale of opportunism made for a movie. The Nazis realized the labor could be drawn from concentration camps, and the prisoners realized that volunteering for the effort could save their lives. At the height of the operation, headed by SS officer Bernhard Krueger, the Jewish prisoners produced 650,000 notes a month. The counterfeiting helped finance some Nazi spy efforts, as well as other parts of the Reich's war machine, but it failed to bring down the Allies. As gripping as the tale of Operation Bernhard is, the story of how the Jewish counterfeit brigade most of them prisoners at Sachsenhausen survived the waning days of the war is even more so. 8 pages of b&w photos, 2 maps. (Oct. 12) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

In 1939, two weeks after the onset of World War II, the germination of a counterfeiting plan was launched in Berlin. The goal was to cause chaos in the British economy by spreading millions of phony banknotes across Britain. Such plans were hardly unique in wartime; they were rarely effective, and never a major factor in determining victory or defeat. This plan would be no exception. What made the plan worthy of attention was the fact that the men relocated to perform the actual counterfeiting were pulled out of concentration camps (including death camps) and gathered at the work camps of Sachenhausen. Eventually, 140 prisoners from 15 different nations worked under the command of S.S. Officer Bernhard Krueger. Krueger was no monster; rather, he was a typical careerist who treated the prisoners humanely as a practical manner. Still, conditions at Sachenhausen were harsh, especially when Krueger's men ran afoul of a pair of sadistic guards. Malkin, a journalist and foreign correspondent, has written an engrossing and often inspiring chronicle of an obscure episode of the war. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2006 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Seasoned journalist Malkin (The National Debt, 1987) tells the compelling story of the Third Reich's attempt to wreck the British economy by flooding Europe with millions of counterfeit British pounds. Germany may have lost the war, but from 1942 to 1945, it succeeded in perfecting the art of counterfeiting British pounds: 132 million of them, worth U.S. $535 million. The highly skilled counterfeiters were mostly Jewish concentration-camp inmates whose success at mass-producing fake British notes proved to be their means of escaping the gas chambers. The 140-plus members of the counterfeit team, which worked out of Block 19 at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, were handpicked from the prisoner population by Bernhard Krueger, an SS officer whose generally benign treatment of his counterfeiters belied his knowledge that all were to be exterminated at war's end. Malkin unravels the German plot in a methodical, concentrated narrative. Along the way, he introduces us to a score of curious characters, including Salomon Smolianoff, a professional Russian con man and master counterfeiter; Elyesa Bazna, the Turkish master spy known as "Cicero" to his British handlers; and Friedrich Schwend, the Germans' oily chief money launderer, who slipped away to Argentina after the war. Equally shady are the stodgy British lords at the Bank of England who ignored numerous warnings about the counterfeiting plot, then actively covered up evidence of its success after the war, even as London's dog-track bookies were refusing to accept British five-pound notes for fear of getting fakes. The author's dry, trenchant prose isn't terribly exciting, but his thorough research and authoritative voice enable this fascinating chapter of history to hold interest. Gripping proof that indeed all is fair in love and war. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.