England believed that the bills were genuine. The Nazis called it Operation Bernhard, and it was the largest counterfeit scheme in history.
The Counterfeiters (Stefan Ruzowitsky, 2007), winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is based on these real events, as documented in Adolf Burger’s book The Devil’s Workshop. Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), the film’s protagonist, is a fictionalized character, loosely based on a notorious counterfeiter Burger befriended while imprisoned in Sachsenhausen.
In his life before the war, Sally is a self-satisfied criminal, ladies’ man, and “the world’s best counterfeiter.” A gifted illustrator, he attends a prestigious art school in Russia but wonders, “Why make money making art, when I can make money making money?”
Before the war, Sally is arrested in Berlin for attempting to counterfeit American dollars. Because he is Jewish, he is eventually transported to Auschwitz. There, he is given extra food for painting portraits of SS officers and their families and a Nazi-glorifying mural outside the camp.