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Monday, December 29, 2008


Another Fake 'True Story' Exploits Tragedy

— Photo by TJ Sullivan —
Another hoax disguised as a memoir sinks to new lows by fabricating a tale of love in ... a Nazi concentration camp.

I've yet to read any account that explains why this premise didn't strike anyone as too weird to be true: A Jewish girl disguised as a Christian repeatedly returns to a fence at a concentration camp and tosses food over it to an imprisoned Jewish boy. At the first meeting it was, supposedly, an apple that the girl shared. This was supposed to have gone on for about seven months, until the boy was transferred. Then, years later, in New York, the boy, by then a man, goes on a blind date at Coney Island and discovers that his date is ... the girl at the fence!

Yep. I know. Doesn't sound like the severe SS security at any concentration camp I've ever read about. Apples over the fence? Why not a hacksaw? A gun? A shovel? Yet, there it was, the basis of the title and subtitle -- "Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived."

The guy got on Oprah, TWICE! News stories were written about him and his book. He did the TV tour — CBS, Lifetime, etc...

And, although the author was in fact a prisoner in a concentration camp, the apple story was a fake.

The New Republic makes the whole publication process for this particular book sound a bit strange.

TNR says the hoax was revealed after a reporter (buoyed by interviews with top scholars) repeatedly confronted publishers, who defended the book until mounting evidence made defending it impossible.

This from the TNR post:
The day after [Gabriel] Sherman’s second article appeared, Rosenblat confessed to his agent, Andrea Hurst, that he had fabricated the love story, and Berkley announced that they are canceling the publication of the book. Following the announcement, Kenneth Waltzer, the Michigan State professor who originally questioned the story’s veracity, spoke to Sherman about the danger of Rosenblat’s fabrication. Hurst emailed a statement to say that she is “stunned and disappointed” by the lie. [Harris] Salamon says that he will still be making the movie as a “fictionalized adaptation of his story,” but that he "may rewrite elements of the script to reflect recent revelations.” Sherman also spoke with Rosenblat's son after the revelation, who described the episode as "always hurtful."

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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