(2007) This Austrian film is based on the true story of “Operation Bernhard,” the secret Nazi scheme to overwhelm the British economy with counterfeit bills. Jewish printers and other artisans were gathered from various concentration camps to set up a printing press in the Sachsenhausen camp where they were treated better than the rest of the prisoners … but only if they could produce a faultless copy of first, the British pound and then, the American dollar. The main character is fashioned after Salomon Smolianoff, a Russian Jew who had been arrested for his skillful forgeries.
The Counterfeiters won several German awards plus the 2007 Academy Award for best foreign language film. I enjoyed watching it very much … it really happened in much the same way as shown.
One of the counterfeiters, Adolf Burger, wrote his memoirs and actually consulted on the film. He is alive today at the age of 95. Another one, still alive today, was interviewed for a magazine article, reprinted here. His memories are just as good as the movie.
Lawrence Malkin wrote a book Krueger’s Men on this same subject. (Bernhard Krüger was the SS Major who led the counterfeiting unit … and so it was named after him.) At Malkin’s website you can read “secret documents” including several from the National Archives.