Friday, January 2, 2009

Holocaust 'Greatest' Love Story a Hoax

Holocaust 'greatest' love story a hoax -
Oprah Winfrey once dubbed it the "greatest love story" she had ever heard: a boy held at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and a girl on the outside who tossed him apples to keep him alive. They eventually married and grew old together. [...]

But over the weekend, Herman Rosenblat issued a statement through his literary agent, Andrea Hurst, acknowledging the story of how he met his wife was made up.
I am really pissed about this, though I am not sure why exactly. Might be that the fact my father was a concentration camp survivor himself may unconsciously kicks in.

Of course the guy wanted to do good, and he followed a strong dream he had with his deceased mother giving him a message to pass on his love story over the world, but really, what a BAD BAD idea!

I can understand the years of guilt the guy must have felt seeing how the whole world would be enticed by his story, knowing that it simply wasn't true. I am glad he finally came clean about it, but that does not seem to ease off too much of the upset.

Please don't do it. Don't use fabricated or strongly embellished stories, either positive or negative, to promote a "good cause". It removes credibility to whatever truth may be to valid and legitimate criticism once the hoax is revealed. In the present case, revisionists may even use it to bolster their denying that the holocaust ever existed.

The reason I am not tagging this story as off-topic is because of this, and I hope you will see the connection:
Many Holocaust scholars had long cast doubt on the Rosenblats' story.

Professor Ken Waltzer, the director of Michigan State University's Jewish Studies program, said he began raising questions to the agent and publisher in November, suggesting that the story was fabricated. But he says his numerous queries went unanswered.

He says he told the editor that the story is "at best embellished and perhaps invented."

"The idea of a prisoner being able autonomously to approach the fence not just once, but every day at the same time, ... none of it seemed plausible," Waltzer says. "That fence was right next to the SS barracks, so to go to the fence, which was also punishable by death, was to risk death."

In a letter to "The New Republic," which first began questioning the validity of the Rosenblats' story, Waltzer said he was also disturbed about why few others had come forward to point out holes in the couple's account.

"Less understandable is the widespread belief in their story -- by the culture makers, including the publisher and movie maker and many thousands of others who have encountered it over a decade," he said. "Second, such belief suggests a broad illiteracy about the Holocaust and about experience in the camps -- despite decades of books, serious memoirs, museums, and movies. This shakes this historian up."

"This memoir was at the far end of implausibility, yet until yesterday, no one connected with packaging, promoting, and disseminating it asked questions about or investigated it. Some actively resisted such investigation and tried to shut mine down."
Worst even:
New Republic special correspondent Gabriel Sherman told CNN another disturbing element is that Herman Rosenblat really is a Holocaust survivor who "didn't need to embellish his love story, because his own story is so powerful."
If you feel that you have something to tell, by all means please do so, but please try to refrain from temptations of bringing in adornments that grossly distort reality (or worst even completely make up stories) because you think your story is not powerful enough on its own.

Ultimately truth is on its own the most moving and powerful story there is, and this is one of the reasons I like Kendra Wiseman''s story best among several ex stories I read. It has the right balance of pro and con, consideration and criticism, drama and perspective. The fact that it is masterly written doesn't hurt either.

BRINGING DOWN THE HOAX - I know the link is in the comments but sometimes people don't check out comments. Interesting backstory of the backstory, and an enjoyable read. Also, I believe the guy, for what it's worth.


dan said...


Carl 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.