The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 5, February 4, 2007, Article 23


Regarding last week's mention of Lawrence Malkin's new book "Kreuger's
Men", Jeff Reichenberger writes: "To follow up on the Nazi's Operation
Bernhard. The story is one of many covered in the book 'Money of Their
Own, The Stories of the World's Greatest Counterfeiters', by Murray
Teigh Bloom (1957). It is fascinating, taken from what Bloom describes
as "a detailed and secret account of the operation.

"Between 1947 and 1949, Dr. Andre' Amstein made what is unquestionably
the most thorough study extent of Operation Bernhard. Dr. Amstein, one
of the world's leading authorities on counterfeiting, had access to the
secret reports of American, British, French and German agencies; he
interviewed some of the men who helped engrave, print, check, and
distribute the false pound notes. His final report, which runs more
than two hundred type written pages, is easily one of the more
fascinating reports to emerge out of WWII."

"Bloom says he gained access to the Amstein report in Paris through
a friend's 'measured indiscretion.' Amstein calls Operation Bernhard,
"the greatest forgery and counterfeiting enterprise of all time."

"Bloom expounds; "He does not exaggerate. It was the biggest; it
delivered the most bogus money over the longest period of safety; it
turned out the finest counterfeit notes ever seen; it had the world's
largest distribution network; it operated with the lowest overhead
even though it had the greatest number of conspirators and prisoner
'employees' - probably more than three hundred at it's peak - and had
the finest equipment ever assembled for a counterfeiting operation.

"The story details Captain Bernhard Krueger's rise in the ranks and
also that of his main artisan engraver, a Jewish prisoner by the name
of Solomon Smolianoff. 'Bernie and Solly' they were known. According
to Solly's diary, in late 1944 there was great pressure from Himmler,
to complete plates for U.S. one hundred dollar notes. At the end of the
war Krueger fled. Russian and American secret service looked for him
for ten years fearing he was still in possession of counterfeit plates.

"He was found in 1955 during a routine census, on the outskirts of
Hanover, Germany. He was charged with no crime so the West German
authorities left him alone. He has refused to talk to eager journalists
and is working slowly on his own account of the Barracks 19
counterfeiting operation. In 1956 he moved to Brunswick and sells
stamps to collectors.

"Perhaps some of the research is dated, but I wonder if this account
is cited in the Malkin book or the others you suggested, or if Kruger
was ever interviewed. I think it would make a nice companion next to
these other books."

[In the notes to Chapter 5, author Malkin writes that "Bloom, an
experienced reporter and World War II counterintelligence agent, met
with Krueger more than a decade after the war, having already made
himself an expert on counterfeiting and published a minor classic on
the subject, 'Money of Their Own.'  He interviewed Krueger and chose
to turn his notes into a first-person account under Krueger's name
for greater impact (and tabloid sales).  Later Bloom posed more
difficult questions, to which Krueger replied in German.  They were
never cast into narrative form, but the two kept up an t extensive
correspondence in the hope of making a film.  Bloom has kindly allowed
me to view and quote from the surviving fragments, which cover
Operation Bernhard only the first year of Krueger's involvement."

The Amstein Report unfortunately, was unavailable to Malkin. It was
missing from the U.S. Secret Service Archives.  Malkin says Bloom had
been allowed to view it privately at the U.S. Treasury.  Amsteim, who
was still alive in 2002 refused an interview "on the grounds that he
was an old man, remembered little, and had no documents from the
period.  This made is necessary to reconstruct the contents through
archival research." (p272).

Malkin does note that another prisoner's memoir, published in Oslo in
1949, was very useful.  He writes: "None was more valuable than
'Falskmynter I block 19', by Moritz Nachtstern and Ragnar Arntzen.
This virtually forgotten book was discovered on the Internet by
Margaret Shannon with the remnants of the Norwegian language she
picked during her childhood years in Oslo."  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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