Sunday, December 28, 2008

No Angels in This Story - Period

Herman Rosenblat, as it turns out (see post previous to this one), is a bigger fraud than I originally imagined him to be. He knew exactly what he was doing and he has damaged not only himself but everyone unlucky enough to have been associated with him and his joke of a book in any way: Berkley Books, Penguin Group (USA), Holocaust scholars, other Holocaust survivors, members of his family, those who wanted so badly to believe in the miracle of his story and, yes, even Oprah Winfrey, one of his biggest boosters.

Surely his wife knew that the book was based on a gigantic lie. Why did she go along with the fraud? Was it all about the money? Are we really to believe that Rosenblat created the lie because he "wanted to bring happiness to people?" Sorry, Herman, but I don't buy that for a minute.

The Houston Chronicle has the latest:
Rosenblat, 79, has been married to the former Roma Radzicky for 50 years, since meeting her on a blind date in New York. In a statement issued Saturday through his agent, he described himself as an advocate of love and tolerance who falsified his past to better spread his message.

“I wanted to bring happiness to people,” said Rosenblat, who now lives in the Miami area. “I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world.”

Rosenblat’s believers included not only his agent and his publisher, but Oprah Winfrey, film producers, journalists, family members and strangers who ignored, or didn’t know about, the warnings from scholars that his story didn’t make sense.
Among the fooled, at least the partially fooled, was Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Berenbaum had been asked to read the manuscript by film producer Harris Salomon, who still plans an adaptation of the book.

Berenbaum’s tentative support — “Crazier things have happened,” he told The Associated Press last fall — was cited by the publisher as it initially defended the book. Berenbaum now says he saw factual errors, including Rosenblat’s description of Theresienstadt, the camp from which he was eventually liberated, but didn’t think of challenging the love story.

“There’s a limit to what I can verify, because I was not there,” he says. “I can verify the general historical narrative, but in my research I rely upon the survivors to present the specifics of their existence with integrity. When they don’t, they destroy so much and they ruin so much, and that’s terrible.”

“I was burned,” he added. “And I have to read books more skeptically because I was burned.”
This whole episode leaves me with more than just a bad taste in my mouth. Now I have to question whether or not the book should even be published as fiction and/or a movie made from its story. Beyond a doubt, it has the makings of a beautiful movie about a remarkable love story, a love story we now know to be as untrue as it is unbelievable. Should Herman Rosenblat profit from his attempted fraud, after all? What do you think?

This British page has the details of Rosenblat's fictional memoir and will give you a feel for what a great novel and movie this could have made before it was tainted so badly by this little scandal. At the time this was posted, the owner of the page believed the story to be a true one


  1. I wonder, did he think it wouldn't get published if he'd tried to publish it as fiction? There seems to be a bias in a lot of people's minds that a story can't be truly good and meaningful unless it is "true," in the sense that the events have actually happened in the real world...

  2. That's a good point, Library Girl. Perhaps he felt the need for the story to be "true" to such an extent that he never considered publishing it as fiction.

    I do imagine that if this had turned out to be a true story it would have had a much larger impact on the public than if it had just been published as a novel.