Adolfo Kaminsky in the spotlight at the Edmond Michelet museum in Brive

Resistance fighter and photographer Adolfo Kaminsky died on Monday January 9, 2023 in Paris. In Brive-la-Gaillarde, the Edmond Michelet history museum pays tribute to him. His work as a photographer and what remains of his past as a fighting fighter will be explored until May 27, 2023.

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Hero of the second war and photographer, Adolfo Kaminsky died in Paris at the age of 97, this Monday, January 9, 2023. Because his history and his artistic work deserve to be enlightened, the Edmond Michelet museum in Brive has dedicated an exhibition to him. 70 photos and relics of his activism are on display. Title “Adolfo Kaminsky, swindler and photographer”, the exhibition was designed by the museum of art and history of Judaism in Paris and was organized by Lucie Boyer.

Thierry Pradel, director of the Edmond Michelet museum in Brive brought him here, wishing to discover this man of extraordinary fortune. “This museum is a place of delivery. The idea is to pass the knowledge to the public of this character who saved thousands of people. Then, to communicate his photos that are a true archive of a forgotten Paris in the 50s, 60s, 70s.”

Son of Russian Jewish immigrants, born in Buenos Aires, he arrived in France in 1932. He began working in the printing and dyeing industries, then as an assistant to a chemical engineer. But he and his family were arrested in 1943, sent to the Drancy camp and then released at the last minute thanks to their Argentine passports. At the age of 17, he decided to join the resistance. One group appeals to him for his skills in discoloring inks.

Adolfo has expertise. He changed the methods of making false papers to help Jews save themselves and especially Jewish children. Then, he will explain to the other fakes how to do it. It saved many, many people.

Sarah Kaminsky, daughter of Adolfo Kaminsky and author of “Adolfo Kaminsky, Life of a Forger”

After the war, this master forger did not stop there. He continues this activity without pay for all the reasons that seem to be his alone. For the survivors of the Holocaust who wanted to move to Palestine, then under British occupation, for the liberation networks of Guinea-Bissau, of Angola, for the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela, in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He spent his life making fake papers for the fighters of the dictatorship (from Brazil to Argentina, via Haiti).

A passion and a profession: photography

For the false papers, Adolfo Kaminsky always refused to be paid. So he works as a photographer. Discipline mainly becomes passion which starts after liberation. At night, he captures the streets of Paris, during the day, he immortalizes people and manual trades.

He took pictures in Paris with a view of the gloomy city. What he wanted to say was the war years even though some years had passed. In his shots, people seem alone… his loneliness shines through. He also had a great interest in small trades, in the manufacturing of things… in his pictures, we see many people making things as he did intensively during the war.

Sarah Kaminsky, daughter of Adolfo Kaminsky and author of “Adolfo Kaminsky, Life of a Forger”

To protect his family, he hid his talents as a forger and photographer for a long time. So he stopped taking pictures. Later his children discovered his work. By discovering his pictures, Sarah said “It was clear. It could only be him. I recognized him immediately. My father [était] happy in life and he still is [portait] a melancholy one to him that was not [voyait] not immediately, but we [connaissait].”

The Edmond Michelet Museum of Art and History in Brive presents this exhibition until April 23, 2023.

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