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Angel at the Fence – another fabricated memoir?

Angel at the FenceIs 2008 going to end with a revelation about another made-up memoir? Perhaps. The book in question is Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived by Herman Rosenblat, who has twice appeared on Oprah’s TV show. The book is set to be published by a division of Penguin in February and a movie called Flower of the Fence is scheduled to go into production in 2009.

The author describes his experience as a teenage boy during the Holocaust at Schlieben, part of the Buchenwald concentration camp. One day a nine-year-old girl appears and throws an apple over the fence to Herman and continues to bring food for months, helping Herman to survive. After the war, Herman moves to New York and meet a Polish immigrant named Roma Radzicki, who turns out to be that same girl and they fall in love and marry.

However, the New Republic reveals the facts don’t add up and Herman’s description of the camp is inaccurate – and that throwing an apple over the camp’s fence would be impossible.

James Frey, Ishmael Beah, Margaret B Jones, Misha Defonseca – the list of authors accused of fabrication goes on and on. Is Herman Rosenblat the latest one? It will be interesting to see where this story goes.

It could be another very embarrassing episode for Oprah – the memories of James Frey’s Oprah misadventure remain as clear as a bell.

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Richard Davies

3 Responses to “Angel at the Fence – another fabricated memoir?”

  1. 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. Richard Davies

    Thanks. That’s an amazing story. Regarding the Angel at the Fence, I also found it remarkable that a) the agent hadn’t checked the story b) the publisher hadn’t checked the story c) Oprah’s people hadn’t checked the story, d) the movie people hadn’t checked the story.

    The simplest way to check the story would be ask an expert whether an outsider would have managed to get right up the camp’s fence day after day.


  3. Apparently another publisher is interested in picking up the story…