In The Forgers, perfect for history buffs, historian Roger Moorhouse (Poland 1939; Berlin at War) tells in riveting detail the story of a group of Polish diplomats in Bern, Switzerland, who provided forged travel documents to more than 10,000 people between the years 1940 and 1943. Led by Aleksander Ładoś, they worked in secrecy and, subsequently, history nearly forgot them. As early as 1940, the Polish embassy secured the safety of Polish Jews by providing false documents, something that accelerated with the increasing barbarity of the Nazi occupation of Poland. Moorhouse provides fascinating details of how those involved made and processed the requests, as well as stories of some individuals whose lives were saved by the documents provided by the Ładoś Group. Oftentimes, the circuitous route from request to recipient was such that the person receiving the document never knew where it had come from.
Many of the documents produced were Latin American passports from countries such as Paraguay, Honduras, and Peru. Cooperation from those countries and sometimes even other diplomats presented challenges, as seen in this comment from an official working in the U.S. State Department in Switzerland: "This group of persons has obtained false papers to which they have no claim and has endeavoured to obtain special treatment.... We are being placed in the position of acting as nurse-maid to persons who have no claim to our protections." The Forgers is a wonderful complement to the history of diplomacy and heroism during the Holocaust--one that's been relatively unknown until now. --Elizabeth DeNoma, executive editor, DeNoma Literary Services, Seattle, Wash.