The Forg­er: An Extra­or­di­nary Sto­ry of Sur­vival in Wartime Berlin

Cioma Schon­haus; Alan Bance, trans.
  • Review
By – March 5, 2012

In the sum­mer of 1942, twen­ty-year-old Cioma Schon­haus joined a non-Jew­ish resis­tance net­work in Berlin and went into hid­ing with them. As a graph­ic artist he pro­vid­ed forged ID doc­u­ments for Jews liv­ing ille­gal­ly, like him­self, in Nazi Ger­many. A year lat­er, in Sep­tem­ber 1943, he was betrayed, and escaped to Switzer­land, trav­el­ing on his bike. 

The sto­ry, filled with the pain of loss­es of fam­i­ly and per­son­al friends, is nev­er­the­less told as an excit­ing, but dan­ger­ous adven­ture. The final escape, in par­tic­u­lar, is sus­pense­ful and thrilling. What strikes the read­er most is the young man’s intel­li­gence, alert­ness, and atten­tion to the details of his sur­round­ings. He had an unusu­al plan­ning abil­i­ty, in which he left noth­ing to chance. The book is well writ­ten. Illus­tra­tions, notes, post­script by the author.

Bat­she­va Ben-Amos has two Ph.D.s, one in soci­ol­o­gy from the U. of Penn­syl­va­nia, the oth­er in clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gy from Hah­ne­mann University/​Hospital. In 2007, she received a fel­low­ship for The Sum­mer Insti­tute on the Holo­caust and Jew­ish Civ­i­liza­tion at North­west­ern University.

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