Sunday, March 2, 2008

Adopted by wolves? Bestselling memoir was a pack of lies

At just six years old, Misha Defonseca trudged across three countries to try to find her Jewish parents who had been carted off to Auschwitz by the Nazis. She collapsed in a forest but was rescued by pack of wolves who adopted her as their cub.

Her story became the best-selling Holocaust autobiography, Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years. The only problem? It was not fact, but fiction.

The book caused a literary sensation on release in 1997. But more than 10 years later – and just a few weeks after a film adaptation, Survivre Avec Les Loups (Surviving with Wolves), premiered in France – it has been revealed that not only did she invent the story but that she is the Roman-Catholic daughter of an alleged wartime collaborator.

The Belgian author admitted to the national newspaper Le Soir that she had fabricated the tale, after being presented with what the paper described as "irrefutable" evidence that her story was false. Le Soir also said her birth date was several years later then claimed in the novel.

"The book is a story, it's my story," said the writer, in a statement issued under her real name, Monique De Wael. "It's not the true reality, but it is my reality. There are times when I find it difficult to differentiate between reality and my inner world."

Ms De Wael, who now lives in the US, issued a bizarre defence of her behaviour, highlighting the parallels between her actual childhood, and that which she invented.

"Yes, my name is Monique De Wael, but I have wanted to forget it since I was four years old," she said. "My parents were arrested and I was taken in by my grandfather, Ernest De Wael, and my uncle, Maurice De Wael. I was called 'daughter of a traitor' because my father was suspected of having talked under torture in the prison of Saint-Gilles. Ever since I can remember, I felt Jewish."

In the book, De Wael's parents are taken from their home in Belgium and herded off to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Told only that her family had "gone east", Misha sets off in pursuit, trekking across Belgium, Germany and Poland. The wolves that find her in the forest feed her and protect her from other predators.

Some time later, her strength restored, Misha continues on her journey, wandering through Ukraine, Romania and Italy before arriving back home in Belgium. She is never reunited with her parents.

[...]

Source: The Independent.

1 comment:

Merry said...

What a shame that the Rosenblats lied about their story. I wish Oprah would publicize only checked-out true stories from now on forward.

I read about a genuine Holocaust love story in the NY Times recently and it's better than the Rosenblats anyway. Stan Lee and Neal Adams the famous comic book artists were publicizing the story of Dina Gottliebova Babbitt. I checked and I'm surprised there's no book on this yet. It's a great story! It also appears to be all true, thankfully.

Dina Gottliebova Babbitt who was a 19 year old art student at Auschwitz. There she painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the wall of the children's barracks to cheer them up. Dina's art became her salvation and helped her find true love!

Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death, found out about the mural Dina painted and called for her. She thought she was going to be gassed, but she bravely stood up to Mengele and he decided to make her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

After the war, Dina interviewed for a job as an animator based on the art she did in Auschwitz and the person interviewing her turned out to be the man who created Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs for the movie. They fell in love and got married. Show White saved Dina's life twice! I love this story!