Fake story about how Holocaust survivor met his wife will keep its movie deal

pants-on-fire-1Is it just me, or have we been bombarded by too many “awesome memoirs revealed to be fakes” stories lately?

The latest to come out of New York City revolves around the story behind Angel at the Fence, which was supposed to be the true story of how Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor met his wife while a teenager at Buchenwald because she smuggled him apples from the outside. They separated, and then years later, they reunited at Coney Island on a blind date. Rosenblat’s story was trumpted all over the place, and he even went on The Oprah Winfrey Show twice to talk about his romance, which Ms. Winfrey called “the greatest love story ever told in the 22 year history of the Oprah show!”

Except, according to the New York Times and recent research by Holocaust scholars, the most heartwarming detail about their “true story” is fake:

[Rosenblat’s agent Andrea Hurst said] “It is with heavy heart that I share what I learned today from my client, Herman Rosenblat, about his book, Angel at the Fence. Herman revealed to me that part of his memoir was not true. He’d invented the crux of this amazing love story—about the girl at the fence who threw him an apple—which drew my attention when I read it in a major magazine [Guideposts] two years ago.”

Of course, this means the book deal is off, but the more unbelievable part is that the deal for the movie (to be called Flower of the Fence) is still on, and set to begin production in March 2009 (according to the Times UK):

The film’s producer plans to go ahead. Harris Salomon, of Atlantic Overseas Pictures, said he had always planned a “loose and fictionalised adaptation.”

Also back in the Variety article, an unnamed Atlantic rep said that “Mr. Rosenblat had ‘agreed to donate all monies from the film to Holocaust survivor charities as a condition to moving forward.'”

Listen, I hope you can understand why Gordon said earlier this year that this kind of thing is not cool. Let the New Republic explain it a bit further:

Deborah Lipstadt, who wrote the 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust, is troubled by the possibility that Herman’s love story is fabricated, because she believes it could be co-opted by the Holocaust denial movement. “If you make up things about parts, you cast doubts on everything else,” Lipstadt told me. “When you think of the survivors who meticulously tell their story and are so desperate for people to believe, then if they’re making stories up about this, how do you know if Anne Frank is true? How do you know Elie Wiesel is true?”

I hope that Salomon or someone at Atlantic Overseas will be able to ignore their wounded pride enough to cancel this movie project as well.

Posted on December 29, 2008 at 07:09 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Linette
    on 2009-01-01 at 22:30

    The Rosenblat story is so sad. Why is Atlantic Pictures making a film based on a lie? Why didn’t Oprah check the story out before publicizing it, especially after James Frey and given that many bloggers like Deborah Lipstadt said in 2007 that the Rosenblat’s story couldn’t be true.
    Genuine love stories from the Holocaust do exist. 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 to cheer them up. 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. It’s such a romantic love story. Another reason I love Dina’s story is the tremendous courage she had 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.

    Dina’s story is also verified to be 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. Written by Genevieve
    on 2009-01-04 at 03:49

    @Linette: Now instead of hardening the calluses around my heart at people’s opportunistic greed, I have to go and look up Holocaust love stories and cry at their tender truthy heartbreaking love. DAMMIT.

    Dina Gottliebova Babbitt sounds like an amazing woman.

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