Monday, December 29, 2008

Holocaust 'Memoir' Canceled

A few weeks ago I wrote about the flood of Holocaust movies out right now, and how these movies aren't really about the suffering of Jews during the Shoah, how they are trying to tell stories of hope and optimism or teach people to be tolerant without really conveying truths about the Holocaust.

Now there's news that an upcoming book, "Angel at the Fence," about the Holocaust, pitched as a memoir, is going to be canceled because the central part of the love story, that a woman tossed apples over a concentration camp fence to the author, and then the author met this woman ten years later in Coney Island and married her, is fabricated. The movie, however, will still be made.

The author said in a statement released through his publisher: “Why did I do that and write the story with the girl and the apple, because I wanted to bring happiness to people, to remind them not to hate, but to love and tolerate all people. I brought good feelings to a lot of people and I brought hope to many. My motivation was to make good in this world.”

What's disturbing about this is that at a time when there are very few remaining Holocaust survivors to tell their stories, a survivors felt compelled to fictionalize his true account of what happened to him in the camps. And why should a Holcaust victim feel compelled to "bring happiness to people"? How will people learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and the cruelty and nihilism that people are capable of if the only stories being published and produced into film are schmaltzy, kitschy stories about love, tolerance and hope?

Note that if the author had from the start pitched his story as one of fiction, not memoir, he would not have had to retract anything...Yet the book probably would have had far less appeal to the publishers.

1 comment:

Clara 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.