Frontline campaign for the real Counterfeiter

Liz Thomson
News - Books 17 Dec 2008

Michael Leventhal of Frontline Books will mount a major promotion campaign for the memoirs of Adolf Burger , the figure at the centre of last year's Oscar-winning movie The Counterfeiters . Leventhal has WEL rights to the book, The Devil's Workshop , which tells the full story of the Nazi counterfeiting operation that resulted in a fortune in fake notes making their way undetected into Britain's financial system. Millions of dollars also went unnoticed, though neither operation destabilised the Allies as Hitler intended.

Burger, a Czech who is now 93, survived four concentration camps and still lectures on his role in the Nazi scam. A printer and typographer, he began faking baptismal certificates for Jews fleeing persecution, stating they had been Roman Catholic since birth. But he was discovered and sent with his wife first to Auschwitz and later selected for Operation Bernhard. After the liberation, Burger returned to civilian life and forgot about his past - until the rise of Neo-Nazis and their lies prompted him to begin writing. In 2000, he was present when millions of fake bank notes, sealed in a special container, were recovered from Lake Toplitz in July 2000.

The book has already been published in German, Czech and Japanese and, with the film having generated a great deal of interest, Levanthal is expecting widespread attention when Burger - physically a little frail, but pin-sharp mentally - arrives in London in February. The Czech Embassy and Czech Centre will support the visit, which will include a special screening of The Counterfeiters followed by a Q&A with Burger at the Phoenix Cinema, in East Finchley, North London. A second screening is likely to take place in Central London, and the author will be taking part in Jewish Book Week.

Leventhal - the son of Lionel Leventhal, co-founder of what became the London Book Fair and the founder and publisher of Greenhill Books - has a second high-profile Nazi title due in May. Christa Schroeder was Hitler's secretary for 12 years and her memoir apparently offers real insight into the Fuhrer's character, 'his moods, his favourite music, his diet, his health'. Unrepentant in tone, it was published in Germany in the mid-1980s, around the time of the notorious Hitler Diaries scam. 'My guess is that when they were exposed as fakes, no one here wanted to go near the book,' explained Levanthal. 'But there is absolutely no doubt that this is a fascinating source and one of the most important memoirs on the War.' Roger Moorhouse, author of Killing Hitler, will write a preface. Leventhal is hopeful of a serial.

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