The Devil’s Workshop by Adolf Burger

The Devil’s Workshop by Adolf Burger* is fantastic. I give 5 stars to many books, but sometimes I wish I could give 6 and this is one of them. Burger was a Slovakian Jew in Auschwitz before being included in the largest counterfeiting operation in the world, in a camp near Berlin. The book is illustrated throughout and that makes it even more interesting. The chapters are short and he talks without embellishments, just presents the situation as it is. I think this is why I’ve enjoyed this book so much.

The Devil's Workshop by Adolf Burger

In the last 3 years of the war the Nazi forced over 140 inmates to forge both British and American banknotes, besides stamps, bonds, and some other documents. This extraordinary account tells his story starting before the war, intertwined with mentions of others who experienced the tragedy of being in the concentration camps. He was liberated from Ebensee concentration camp, but, before that, he is presenting clearly how the counterfeiting operation went, which is so interesting to read. He did not shy away from explaining the technical bits, such as how to source the right type of paper and what went through the process of preparing it.

Operation Bernhard, as it was called saw the production of notes worth billions. The forgeries were so good that even Bank of England failed to spot these fakes. In July 2000 Burger was there when thousands of forged notes were recovered from Toplitzee lake. Furthermore, the book was the basis of the award-winning film The Counterfeiters. Unfortunately it is not available in UK or I would have watched it. It’s well worth reading.

The Devil’s Workshop by Adolf Burger

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: YES!
Published by: Frontline Books
Year it was published: 2022 (first published in 1986)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Memoir

About the author: Adolf Burger was born in Slovakia in 1917. He was arrested in August 1942 together with his wife and both were sent to Auschwitz. Burger was transferred to the forgery workshop at Sachsenhausen in Berlin in 1944. He is one of the last surviving witnesses of the Nazi counterfeiting operation and was a consultant for the film The Counterfeiters, winner of the 2008 Foreign Language Oscar. His memoir ‘The Devil’s Workshop’ has been published in Hungarian, Persian, Japanese and Czech. He continues to travel to speak about his wartime experiences. He died in Prague in 2016.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of The Devil’s Workshop by Adolf Burger for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

5 thoughts on “The Devil’s Workshop by Adolf Burger”

    • Some ended up in circulation indeed. Germans paid their informers with counterfeited money. The plan was also to drop money from planes, which would have destabilized the economy, helping Germans to win the war. It was very clever from them to do that, luckily it did not succeed.

  • How interesting! I don’t think I ever knew that Germany was counterfeiting US and British currency. I’m not familiar with the film, either.
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    • I think you might enjoy this book. The counterfeiting part was fascinating to read about. The movie is in German, it might be available in US, it got some awards at the best-foreign film category, but I don’t remember who awarded the prize.

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