The most extensive counterfeiting operation in the history of the world was carried out during World War II.The Germans were theoretically working against the Allies,but the effort deteriorated into a matter of personal gain of the conspirators.
The idea came to a Nazi official named Alfred Naujocks,one day in 1940 as he sat in his office in the Reichs- sicherheits Hauptamt, the German Security Service.The British had air-dropped thousands of German ration cards on several cities in the Thrid Reich in an effort to confuse the Reich's economy. The German Ministry of Economics had informed Naujocks but had not taken it very seriously because the fake ration cards were so badly counterfeited that any ration office could immediately spot them.
But Naujocks decided he should fight fire with fire.He proposed that the German government forge a million Pound in British currency and then drop the notes over the British Isles,thus really wrecking the British economy.he envisaged an almost total collapse and quick surrender.Naujocks soon found it would be quite possible to forge British notes on a large scale--difficult but possible.He went to his superior,Reinhard Heydrich,with the idea,Heydrich went to Hitler, and Hitler approved. So Unternehmen Andreas, or Operation Andrew,was launched.
Naujocks went then to the secret printing office,where the security service produced forged passports and other faked documents needed by spies overseas.The head of this laboratory was a man named Bernhard Kruger.Soon the planners decided that 5 Pound notes were to be the staple production.The paper of real British notes was analyzed in half a dozen laboratories.The type faces were reproduced and specially cast in metal.Notes were enlarged twenty times, to be used as guides for the finest engravers in Germany.
They were not far along when it became apparent that the paper of the British notes was so difficult to make it would have to be fabricated by hand.But neither expense nor effort were to be spared in this project,and soon Naujocks had a special team working at a secret paper factory at Spechthausen,near Berlin.Eventually the workers produced a paper that even under the microscope was almost identical with the paper of the British notes. Only under ultraviolet light could the difference be seen --the British paper appeared bright lilac and the German paper was gray.The Germans discovered this failure,and it was back to the laboratory.After several months the technicians found that then "pure" flax supplied by German manufacturers was not pure and that the British flax was imported from Turkey. The Germans then bought Turkish flax and made a paper that was better,but still not good enough.Naujocks reasoned that the British paper makers were using old rags,while the Germans were using new flax.So the flax was made into rags,sent out to be dirtied,washed,and then brought back to be made into paper.This did the trick.When the German counterfeit was compared to the British original,no difference could be found in the laboratory.
To Be Continued.