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.