Friday, January 02, 2009

On literary frauds

Swallowing the Camel has a detailed account of the most recent literary fraud perpetrated by Herman Rosenblat.  Rosenblat is a real Holocaust survivor who wrote a fictional account based on his experience and tried to pass it off as a true story.  And, as stated at StC:
Nearly every case of literary fraud I've covered on this blog (Anthony Godby Johnson, James Frey, Misha Defonseca, etc.) has one thing in common with every other case: Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey was only the last in a fairly long line of individuals and companies that allowed themselves to be snookered.  But it seems to usually be the case that the publicity generated by her is what ultimately leads to the scrutiny that exposes these works as hoaxes.  Follow the link above for an interesting read on how all this fell out.

Further related reading at the same site is the Bogus Holocaust Memoirists Hall of Shame, which includes the curious tale of "a fake Holocaust memoir that never even existed."


  1. 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.

  2. Mana, thank you for your comment.

    I think the answer to why does Oprah (and others of her ilk) continue to publicize stories without verifying them first? is clear: They are not interested in publicizing stories that are true. They are interested only in publicizing stories that people want to believe are true, because those are the stories that garner attention for them and earn them more money.