Adolfo Kaminsky is a Russian-Jew who was born in Argentina on October 1, 1925.
In 1932, he moved with his family to Paris in France where his father worked as a tailor.
In 1938, the family moved from Paris to Vire, Calvados, where his uncle was established.
Due to his family’s poor background, he dropped out of school at a young age and got a job at a dye shop to supplement his family’s income.
In the course of his job, Adolfo spent countless hours working out how to remove stains from clothes, and because of his passion for his job, he bought and read chemistry textbooks, notable amongst them is a treatise by Marcellin Berthelot.
He later created his own lab at his uncle’s house, trying out new experiments, and worked in a butter-shop as an assistant to a chemist who taught him the basics which gave him a lot of insight about his job.
In 1940, the Germans invaded France and took their family house in Vire, Calvados forcing Adolfo to temporarily live in another house.
In 1941, the Nazis killed his mother.
In 1943, he and his family were arrested and taken to a Jewish detention camp near Paris for execution. It was supposed to be the last straw before they were to die. However, their passports turned out to be their life-saver.
Because he was born in Argentina and carries the Argentinian Passport, the Government of the Argentine Republic protested their detention and got them freed.
That was the instant he understood the significance of “papers”.
With these happenings, he joined the French Resistance at 19 and eventually became a criminal mastermind and an angel from heaven for Jews of France, specializing in the forgery of identity documents.
Adolfo’s criminal career of forgery started when he was sent to pick up some fake papers from a member of the group who told him they have been struggling to erase the ink on the paper.
Following his vast experience with ink and removal of stain, he advised them to use lactic acid which he had learned from his job. And It worked.
As a member of the French-Jewish Resistance Group, whenever he gets a tip about anyone who is about to be arrested, he would warn their families and arrange new papers for them on the spot. Criminally, it was “Forgery” but it saved lives.
It is estimated that his group saved over 14,000 Jews from being killed, out of that number, about 11,000 of them were children.
With those skills, he could have made a fortune, but he never accepted payment for his forgery. Instead, he earned his fortune as a commercial photographer.
Even after the war, he helped resistance groups of other countries making false documents to save lives.
He estimates that in 1967 alone, he supplied forged papers to people in 15 countries.
He made his last false ID in 1971.
He gave up his forgery career after he was asked to forge South African passports for anti-apartheid guerrillas in South Africa, but soon realized it was an entrapment operation to incriminate him.
He never found out who it was that tried to incriminate him, though it has been speculated that the secret police of the apartheid regime was behind it.
He subsequently lived in Algiers for ten years, married to a Tuareg woman, with whom he had five children, which includes well-known hip-hop singer Rocé and Sarah, who is an actress and writer who wrote a biography of her father, Adolfo Kaminsky.
In 1982, he moved back to France with a temporary residence permit.
All his family naturalized France in 1992.
Adolfo achieved humanity’s most prestigious feat ― saving lives just at the young age of 19.
Adolfo Kaminsky still alive and doing well at 95.
For his acts during the Resistance, he has been given the following awards:
The Croix du Combattant ― The Cross of the Resistance Volunteer Combatant.
The Croix du Combattant Volontaire de la Résistance ― The Cross of the Resistance Volunteer.Combatant.
The Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris ― The Medal of the City of Paris.
In October 2016, a short film about Kaminsky, titled The Forger accompanied an online New York Times article
On 29 October 2017, CBS Television Network told the story of Adolfo Kaminsky in its popular program called 60 Minutes.