Porto Alegre, Brazil
|Resting place||Cemitério Israelita, Porto Alegre|
|Other names||Werner Mattheus, Lidral Hugo|
Nazi prisoner counterfeiter
|Known for||Operation Bernhard|
Salomon Smolianoff (March 1899 – 1976) was a Russian counterfeiter and Holocaust survivor involved in Operation Bernhard. In the film The Counterfeiters based on Adolf Burger's memoirs (which film received a foreign-language Oscar for Austria in 2008), the character is renamed Salomon "Salli" Sorowitsch. The character is played by Karl Markovics, an Austrian stage and television actor.
Salomon Smolianoff was born to a Jewish family in Kremenchuk, Ukraine. He studied painting in Russia, but he had to leave the country in 1922 because his parents were on the wrong side of the Russian Revolution. He went across Europe, was married in Italy, and finally tried to start a new life in Germany, where he met a counterfeiter and decided to become one himself. He was wanted by several European police forces prior to the outbreak of World War II. In 1939 Bernhard Krüger, future SS Sturmbannführer head of Operation Bernhard, put him behind bars. He was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, and made himself useful to the S.S. guards as a portraitist and artist. He was selected for Operation Bernhard, transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944, and eventually to the Ebensee site of the Mauthausen camp network, where he was liberated by the US Army on 6 May 1945. All traces of the master counterfeiter Smolianoff were lost after his liberation. He was soon on international "Wanted" lists as a counterfeiter, but he is also believed to have forged emigration papers for Jews trying to go to Palestine.
He then emigrated to Uruguay, where he counterfeited Russian icons. The Uruguayan police apparently caught on, and Smolianoff moved to Brazil in the 1950s, where he went into the toy business.
Operation Bernhard was directed by, and named after, SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) Bernhard Krüger, who set up a team of 142 counterfeiters from inmates at Sachsenhausen concentration camp at first, and then from other camps. Smolianoff was selected for his skills as a counterfeiter. There he befriended Adolf Burger, a Jewish Slovak typographer who was imprisoned in 1942 for forging baptismal certificates to save Jews from deportation, and later interned at Sachsenhausen to work on Operation Bernhard. Fearing the end of the operation, the inmates stalled for time because the production of British pounds had finished and the hope of the 140-man group was based on the work with dollar bills.
- Lawrence Malkin, http://www.lawrencemalkin.com/kruegers-men-the-secret-documents-7-1-1.html
- Smolianoff Interpol Wanted Bulletin, http://www.lawrencemalkin.com/kruegers-men-the-secret-documents-7-1-1.html
- Lawrence Malkin, "Krueger's Men", Publisher: Little, Brown & Company,Pub. Date: October 2006
- Lawrence Malkin, www.lawrencemalkin.com
- Karl Markovics, in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 2008
- Svaroy Yaron, Lawrence Malkin, "Hitler's Jewish Forgers", Orion Publishing Group, Limited, ISBN 0-304-36457-6 , 2006
- Adolf Burger (1989) Akcia Bernhard: Obchod s miliónmi. Bratislava.
- Max Garcia, "Befreiung des KZ-Nebenlagers Ebensee: Neue historische Details." Zeitschrift des Zeitgeschichtemuseums Ebensee, 1998.
- Schiefer, Karin (2006). "Stefan Ruzowitzky: The Counterfeiters". Austrian Film Commission. Retrieved on 2008-05-13
- Marcus Walker and Almut Schoenfeld, "How a Nazi counterfeiting ring saved book printer" www.post-gazette.com January 22, 2007