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The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler

The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler tells the fascinating and important story of the continuing pursuit of the mysterious and treacherous Lucian Kozminski, a survivor of four Nazi death camps and alleged collaborator with the SS, who embarks on a scheme to steal huge sums of money set aside by the post-War German government as restitution for survivors of the Holocaust. After the War, Kozminski escaped fraud charges in Germany, emigrated to the United States, and established a phony business as a counselor to aid applicants to the German fund. Doggedly pursued by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Kalmansohn and Postal Inspector Lou Kinzler, Kozminski is accused of bilking over one million dollars from some 3,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide and eventually is convicted of mail fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Over the blustery antics of his attorney, the unremorseful Kozminski is sentenced to a stiff jail term that should keep him behind bars for most of his remaining years, and away from the people he seems all-too-willing to defraud again.

But a startling and chilling riddle later emerges. Just a few years into Kozminski’s prison term, Kalmansohn is unnerved when he passes Kozminski on a Los Angeles street. Kalmansohn’s subsequent inquiries reveal that Kozminski may have duped the corrections system, as government records purport to show him “incarcerated” at the same time he actually was walking the streets. But this storm is eclipsed by a far greater one when Kalmansohn hears reports of Kozminski’s death. For, just as he was closing the book on this long and defining chapter in his own life, Kalmansohn unearths a stunning find: Compelling evidence indicates that Kozminski, the shadowy thief of hearts, has faked his own death and may still be alive.

The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler chronicles the “Man In The Glass Booth” riddle of Kozminski, his devious scheme and the courageous people who brought him to justice. The reader will hear the profound journeys of several Holocaust survivors, true-life heroes who gathered the fractured pieces of their existence, and with immeasurable courage rose from the brink of near-annihilation. The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler depicts their willingness to forgo the burial of their suffering in favor of making a claim against Germany, not simply for the money, but to capture a meager morsel of justice.

The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler also details the rise and fall of the devil from within -- Lucian Kozminski. Through a carefully engineered and murky web of deceit, the brazen Kozminski purloined virtual “blood money” from the ultimate victims of this Century, many of whom are now elderly, feeble and nearly-destitute. His fraudulent scheme may have remained hidden but for the tireless efforts of Kalmansohn and the German-born Kinzler. Cut from different cloth but sharing a common thread of decency, Kalmansohn and Kinzler become immersed in the travails of the victims, their own outrage at Kozminski’s unscrupulous ruse, and their near-obsessive determination to bring Kozminski to justice.

The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler tells this compelling story, crossing geographic and internal borders, and seemingly culminating in a dramatic courtroom confrontation. But this tale, like its antagonist, takes on a second life with evidence of Kozminski’s apparent resurrection from the dead. Why does his death certificate bear another’s Social Security number? Why did his ex-wife say he was buried, while his death certificate declares cremation? Why is he absent from all records of the crematorium itself? Why did Social Security payments continue to be deposited in his bank account years after his supposed death? Why have multiple witnesses reported seeing – even conversing with – Kozminski long after his official date of death? These and many other haunting questions will keep the reader turning pages of this stirring account.

Regardless of what the reader may conclude, it remains clear that these questions do not comprise mere guesswork. For no less than two California State Courts have issued judgments holding that Kozminski’s death was faked, culminating a lengthy investigation and pro bono civil actions prosecuted by Kalmansohn. Indeed, this entire mystery was the subject of a feature-length segment on Dateline NBC in July 2002 and a segment on America’s Most Wanted in July 2004 All the while, Kozminski’s assets stolen from his victims, now valued at approximately $20 million, apparently still remained hidden in Swiss banks. From Day #1, the Swiss government has proved uncooperative in revealing the location of these assets.

The judgments finding a faked death in hand, Kalmansohn has recently sought to uncover the final secrets of Kozminski, embedded in a safe deposit box now held by the State of California. All the while, he continues to race against time and Kozminski’s fading footprints, trying to uncover Kozminski’s assets as well as track down the elusive doer of evil himself. It is hoped this book will stir a public outcry that will achieve both the survivors’ -- and the author’s -- continuing quest for justice.

In the end, The Hunt For A Holocaust Swindler is an immensely fascinating book, especially given recent controversy and publicity regarding perpetrators of the Holocaust, deniers of the Holocaust, and the uncovering of long-hidden fortunes absconded from its casualties. No mere addition to Holocaust literature, however, it is also a crime drama, a thriller and a sustained chase – one that has spanned decades and continues to this day.