The last Holocaust survivor forced to participate in an infamous Nazi counterfeiting operation died at 99.
Adolf Burger, a Jewish typographer forced by the Nazis to make fake British pounds in a major counterfeit operation during the Holocaust, has died. He was 99.
Public broadcaster Czech Radio, citing Burger’s family, reported Thursday that the Holocaust survivor died on Tuesday in Prague.
Slovakian-born Burger was arrested in 1942 after he was caught producing fake baptism certificates for Jews to help them escape transportation to Nazi death camps. Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state during the war.
He was deported to Auschwitz with his wife, Gisela, who was put to death there.
“After my wife died in Auschwitz, I had two choices: either to go and touch the barbed wire with 1000 voltage in it and be dead in a second, or stay alive,” Burger said in a 2007 radio interview for the Stories of the 20th Century project. “I chose life, so I can tell everyone what they have done here.”
At the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany in 1944, Burger became one of some 140 inmates who were put to work forging British pound notes, a top secret plan to destabilize Britain known as “Operation Bernhard.”
“They all had to be Jews, or half Jews,” he said of the counterfeiting group in a radio interview. “That’s logical. Those who know such a secret are not supposed to survive.”
Burger did, though, and eventually was liberated at another camp by the US Army.
After the war, Burger settled in Prague. His memoirs, Number 64401 Speaks, were first published in 1945. Burger later redescribed his experiences in The Commando of Counterfeiters, a 1983 memoir.
A movie based on the book, The Counterfeiters, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007. Burger approved the screenplay.