Another basement oddity: "DES RACES HUMAINES."
Further thoughts on Cioma Schönhaus's The Forger and other books, plus some thoughts on Internet re-socialization

Reading Cioma Schönhaus's The Forger: An Extraordinary Story of Survival in Wartime Berlin

Book-shopping on the way to Balticon, I picked up and advance reading copy of Cioma Schönhaus's The Forger: An Extraordinary Story of Survival in Wartime Berlin. It was first published in German in 2004, and the US edition came out DeCapo Press in 2007. In the first 90 pages, the author has managed to survive the deportations of friends, neighbors, and his family by being a highly skilled worker, eventually working in a munitions plan. Before that, he we an art student, and at page 93, is about to begin his career as a forger of the documents that will allow people to survive:

Go see [Dr. Kaufmann], work with him. But try to spell out for him that careful plotting is just as important a weapon as heroic courage. Otherwise your life as a passport forger will be a short one. Just think about it: anybody caught with an ID card you forged will quizzed by the police about where he got the pass, who swapped over the picture and who copied the stamp. There aren't many who can keep a secret when their fingers are shoved in a door jamb and the door slammed shut on them. Unless they really don't know anything, in which case there is nothing to give away. That's why nobody must know your name and address. The same goes for Dr. Kaufmann.

It's a short book -- 212 pages. The issue of identity and survival in Nazi Germany is central to it. Earlier in the book, Cioma altered Jewish mens' pants to a more Fascist style so that they would look like Nazis from a distance and be less likely to be subject to arrest. And at one of his jobs, he was issued a pseudonym by his boss upon hiring, so he could do a skilled job for which his employer was not allowed to hire Jews. By page 93, he has skirted the edge of lethal situations repeatedly, but now is about to do something much more dangerous.

Finished the book. Our narrator survives the war by escaping to Switzerland. Dr. Kaufmann is exposed in more or less the scenario described above and was executed February 17, 1944 in Sachsenhausen.