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 20-year-old Schonhaus attempted to stay one step ahead of the authorities, who had him on their wanted list.
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 as too dangerous, and is left with the option of swimming across the Bodensee, or pedalling all the way...as those around him are one by one deported to the concentration camps. His is an astonishing story of wartime survival.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 200 pages, illustrations
- Publisher: Granta Books
- Publication Date: 07/01/2008
- Category: Autobiography: general
- ISBN: 9781862079878