29.12.08

Misha Defonseca and Herman Rosenblat: Two Holocaust hoaxters exploit the same fertile territory

Another literary hoax bites the dust. Herman Rosenblat has admitted that his
sensational memoire, ³Angel at the Fence,² is a fake. Just last February,
another sensational Holocaust hoax was exposed and its author confessed. The
parallels between the two are striking.

In her book, Misha A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, published abroad
under the title, Survival with Wolves, Misha Defonseca tells how she
walked across war-torn Europe searching for her parents who were arrested by
the Nazis and living, at times, in the care of wolves.

In his book, Angel at the Fence, Herman Rosenblat tells how he found true
love when he was reunited with a little girl who had thrown apples to him
over the concentration camp wall.

Both are incredible, uplifting stories set against the terrifying backdrop
of the Holocaust. And both are inventions of their authors¹ imaginations.

Other similarities stand out:

Misha Defonseca fooled her publisher, Mt Ivy Press, and a movie producer.

Herman Rosenblat fooled his publisher, Berkeley Books, a division of
Penguin, and a movie producer.

Misha Defonseca only began telling her amazing ³true² story years later when
she and her husband, Maurice, hit financial difficulties.

Herman Rosenblat only began telling his amazing ³true² story years later
when he and his wife, Roma, hit financial difficulties.

The hoaxters¹ spouses were complicit in the scams. Maurice Defonseca
supported his wife¹s story. Roma Rosenblat supported her husband¹s story.

The Defonsecas were invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

The Rosenblats appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

People who questioned Misha Defonseca¹s story were called jealous,
anti-Semitic and deniers.

People who questioned Herman Rosenblat¹s story were called jealous,
anti-Semitic and deniers.

Misha Defonseca's "true" story was made into a French feature film,
Survivre avec les loups.

Herman Rosenblat sold the movie rights to his "true" story, Angel at the
Fence and production was to begin in March, 2009.

Misha Defonseca was cornered by the press (Le Soir) and forced to confess.

Herman Rosenblat was cornered by the press (The New Republic) and forced to
confess.

When confronted with evidence that her story was false, Misha Defonseca said
that her memories were affected by wartime trauma and that she had recounted
the truth as she remembered it.

When confronted with evidence that his story was false, Herman Rosenblat
said that his memories were affected by wartime trauma and that he had
recounted the truth as he remembered it.

Misha Defonseca's French publisher Bernard Fixot defended her by saying her
real life was even more touching than the story she told in her book.

Herman Rosenblat¹s movie producer defended him by saying his real life was
even more touching than the story he told in his book.


Concocting a literary hoax is dangerous business; truth has a way of seeking
the light. Most hoaxes fall apart when the work achieves its author¹s
desired goal: success and fame. Think of Clifford Irving¹s scam ³authorized
biography² of Howard Hughs which landed its author in jail, Benjamin
Wilkomirski¹s Holocaust memoire ³Fragments² which was exposed as false soon
after it won the National Jewish Book Award, James Frey¹s confessional tale
that was endorsed by Oprah and then collapsed, and Margaret Seltzer¹s fake
misery lit autobiography that caused a sensation and then was debunked. All
these hoaxes melted in the spotlight of fame.

Amazingly, unlike the others, Misha Defonseca¹s story survived for 20 years
in the spotlight, becoming an international bestseller and a feature film.
Moreover, she is unique in profiting immensely from it, suing her publisher
for failing to make the book a bestseller in the U.S. and winning a $33
million verdict that still stands, even after she confessed.

COMING SOON: Watch for more on the Defonseca scam on YouTube.

Also see: BESTSELLERthebook.blogspot.com

2 comments:

Yvette said...

This hoax is a tragedy. The Rosenblats have hurt Jews all over and given support to those who deny the holocaust. I don't understand why Atlantic Pictures is still proceeding to make a film based on a lie. I also don't understand how Oprah could have publicized this story, especially after James Frey and given that many bloggers like Deborah Lipstadt said in 2007 that the Rosenblat's story couldn't be true.
There are so many other worthwhile projects based on genuine love stories from the Holocaust. My favorite is the one about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt - the beautiful young art student who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz. This painting became the reason Dina and her Mother survived Auschwitz. After the end of the war, Dina applied for an art job in Paris. Unbeknownst to Dina, her interviewer was the lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They fell in love and got married. Now that's a romantic love story! I also admire Dina for her tremendous courage to paint the mural in the first place. Painting the mural for the children caused her to be taken to Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he made her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

Also, Dina's story has been verified as true. Some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. The story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children's barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also documented.

Why wasn't the Rosenblatt's story checked out before it was published and picked up to have the movie made?? I would like to see true and wonderful stories like Dina's be publicized, not these hoax tales that destroy credibility and trust.

Anonymous said...

'...Why wasn't the Rosenblat's story checked out before it was published and picked up to have the movie made...??

Good question, BUT these people are very adept at manipulation, as well as being skillful pathological liars. Add this to the fact that people are extremely wary of 'questioning' any holocaust story, as the hoaxer invariably labels them a 'Nazi' 'hoax hunter', 'anti Semite' etc. Not a label an honest seeker after truth would be comfortable with.

In the case, for example, of Deborah Rey's 'Rachel Sarai's Vineyard', (luckily pulled by the publisher when it was proved to them that it was a hoax) in which she claimed to be a Dutch 4-year-old knife-wielding, Gestapo-slaying 'baby-courier', who 'led people to safety through (non-existent) moors to a (non existent) Swedish Embassy'. Rey's 'proof' was a war pension document from the 'Stichting 1940-45' shown by her to her publisher who, naively accepted it as proof enough. What she'd neglected to tell him, was the fact that thousands of people received this pension, including children of resistance workers (which, to be fair she was, although not Jewish as she claimed) who had been traumatised by razias. In fact she (and her publisher) had a lucky escape as if publication had gone ahead, both her, and they would not have survived the Dutch (especially Amsterdam) media for long. But it is an indication, nevertheless, as to just how convincing these people can be, although a fairly simple online search and a few querying emails would have exposed the fraud immediately.