Odd that Oprah …
December 30, 2008 § 7 Comments
… seems always to be tied into these hoax memoirs. I’m not questioning her honesty, but the allure of Oprah-show-endorsement riches must somehow be tied into the recurrence of this story:
(CNN) — 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.
Herman Rosenblat has acknowledged his Holocaust love story is fake: “I am sorry.”
It turns out the story of Herman and Roma Rosenblat isn’t true.
The two had told their love story for years and years, inspiring a book deal, an upcoming movie, and stories across the globe on television, in papers and on the Internet. A children’s book, “Angel Girl,” was also based on their love story.
When the couple appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” more than a decade ago, the famed host called it “the single greatest love story in 22 years of doing this show.”
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.
“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,” he said in the statement.
“In my dreams, Roma will always throw me an apple, but I now know it is only a dream.”
Herman Rosenblat really was in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II — a subcamp of Buchenwald — and he really has been married to Roma for decades. Beyond that, the truth is murky.
Berkley Books immediately canceled publication of Rosenblat’s memoir, “Angel at the Fence,” which was set to be released in February.
“Berkley will demand that the author and the agent return all money that they have received for this work,” Berkley spokesman Craig Burke said in a statement.
A movie version of the Rosenblats’ story — even though now proven a hoax — remains in the works. Atlantic Overseas Pictures says the movie is a fictionalized adaptation and that “the story retains its power to grip audiences worldwide.”
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.”