The wonder of human ingenuity and endurance never ceases.
The story you are about to see is one of the most inspiring and compelling narratives I have ever seen. And it’s so unusually creative! I don’t want to spoil the mystery and discovery anymore with my own comments.
This one needs little introduction.
Just relax into this and let it take you on a little journey, brought to us by The New York Times.
Better yet, Mr. Kaminsky’s daughter Sara has recently written a book about this inspiring story. You can find it on Amazon. It’s called Adolphe Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life.
I’m sure the book expands upon the remarkable instances of serendipity that shaped this story. Like so many young thought leaders, it’s so astonishing that Mr. Kaminsky had exactly the right life experiences by age 19 to lead him to this expertise.
What are the odds that he would have a job (after being forced to drop out of school) as a dry cleaner, where he studied chemistry to remove stains? Then, to acquire butter for his family, he would work with a dairy chemist to learn about the lactic acid and use it to remove the ink in his own diary?
More about the Wonder of Human Ingenuity
It never ceases to amaze me how people, good and bad, are often the product of a perfect storm of circumstances.
And what of the impact of saving all those lives? Consider how the ripples of Adolphe’s work have expanded in widening circles and over generations.
Do you have a mental picture of Paris, occupied by the Nazis in 1944? Even though I did not, this video allowed me to piece together odds and ends I did know. One thing I hadn’t really thought much about was the lives of children under Nazi occupation. 7,000 to 10,000 children were saved by the Jewish resistance networks in France alone. Tragically, over 11,000 were deported and killed.
Here’s a quote from a very good article in the New York Times about Mr. Kaminsky.
“Mr. Kaminsky’s resistance cell was one of many. His would get tips on who was about to be arrested, then warn the families, assembling new papers for them on the spot. The group focused on the most urgent cases: children who were about to be sent to Drancy, the internment camp for Jews near Paris that was the last stop before the death camps.
They placed the kids in rural homes or convents, or smuggled them into Switzerland or Spain.
In one scene from the book, Mr. Kaminsky stays awake for two nights straight to fill an enormous rush order. “It’s a simple calculation: In one hour I can make 30 blank documents; if I sleep for an hour, 30 people will die.” 2
Imagine accepting that kind of responsibility at age 19.
At that age, I was still worrying about whether to watch a re-run of Three’s Company or M*A*S*H* and how I could scrape up enough money to buy a Sony Walkman.
We just have no idea how tough life can get and how quickly. I feel doubly grateful for this story as a reminder of the importance of history and gratitude.
A wise friend to EWC in California sent us the link to this video. Thank you, Larry, for taking us all on a little journey we would not have gone on without you!
Stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda
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- “The Forger | Times Documentaries | The New York Times.” YouTube. TheNewYorkTimes, 03 Oct. 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dup6KOoaAUc>. ↩
- Druckerman, Pamela. “‘If I Sleep for an Hour, 30 People Will Die’.” NYTimes. New York Times, 2 Oct. 2016. Web. 12 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/opinion/sunday/if-i-sleep-for-an-hour-30-people-will-die.html>. ↩