A Conversation With Sarah Kaminsky and Mel Urbach

March 10, 2017 | By French Culture

On Wednesday, March 8th, 2017, Albertine welcomed Sarah Kaminsky and Mel Urbach for a conversation around the life of Adolfo Kaminsky as a forger during World War II, depicted in Sarah Kaminsky’s biography Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life. Deputy Cultural Counselor Thomas Michelon welcomed the audience with the follow opening remarks.

Good evening, and welcome to the Albertine bookstore! It is a pleasure to be with you here tonight for a conversation with two prestigious guests, Sarah Kaminsky and Mel Urbach. I would like to warmly welcome Mrs. Trink-Rubenstein, President of Licra in the USA and Mr. Samuel Levy, Chairman of the Jewish American French Alliance. 

Sarah Kaminsky is the author of Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life, a biography describing the incredible life led by her father. The book as sold over 12,000 copies in France alone, and has been translated in more than 6 languages. Mel Urbach is a renowned attorney at law, who assisted in recovering several billion dollars worth of damages for WWII victims during the last two decades. He is a veritable wealth of unique cases and stories. 

Before I open the floor to our two next speaker, I would like to say a few words. 

As a young teenager, Adolfo Kaminsky lived through one of the darkest chapters of History, that of the Nazi occupation and the Shoah. His story is awe-inspiring, a testament not only to the courage of his generation, but also to human courage in general, and to individuals’ ability to resist in the face of unimaginable duress. His actions are estimated to have saved around 14,000 men, women, and children - these are 14,000 individual people, with families, friends, and acquaintances who each owe their lives to this one man. Adolfo Kaminsky devoted his life to an ideal of justice, the respect of human rights, and human dignity. His experiences are models of ethical and moral-driven behavior; they were and remain a source of inspiration to all. 

Sarah Kaminsky, Adolfo Kaminsky’s daughter, manages to convey this unique story shrouded in danger, fear, and suffering with film-like clarity, keeping the reader on the edge of his seat chapters on end. Thanks to an audacious commitment to 1st person narration, she is able to fully transport us into Adolfo’s mind, and instill in us the urgency surround his every action, decision, and sacrifice.  It is a tale she herself only discovered later in life. The writing process was a deeply collaborative one, in which the dialogue between father and daughter strengthened not only their ties to History, but also to each other. 

I would like to personally thank you, Sarah, for the incredible gift you have given us by sharing you father’s experiences, which today still serve as a an ethical standard and ideal. You remind us, through your work, of the dichotomy between the justice people everywhere seek and the justice they get, and of Mankind’s struggle for equal access to freedom and fairness.

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