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Monday, December 29, 2008

Narratives

by Saul Bloodworth

I can't quite follow the outrage about the fake Holocaust memoir written by Herman Rosenblat (or his ghostwriter). So yes, he fabricated the part of the story that got him the book deal in the first place, the heartwarming story about his future wife throwing apples over the fence at Buchenwald.

So, everybody who is familiar with Buchenwald must know right away that this was made up. Buchenwald was not a place were children would get apples (let alone in the winter of 1944/1945). It was a very brutal camp for political prisoners, mainly Communists, Social Democrats and Union leaders, but also priests, Jehova's Witnesses, homosexuals and POWs, mainly from Tchechoslovakia, Poland, France and the Soviet Union, and also Gipsys. More than 50.000 died of hunger, cold, typhus, forced labor, or they were shot when they try to escape.

Among the prisoners were Leon Blum, the former French chancellor, also Ernst Heilmann, the head of the Democratic party in the Prussian government, who was killed, as well as Ernst Thälmann, the head of the Communist Party of Germany. He was killed as well.

Only a few of the inmates were Jewish, except for 1945, when Jews were brought there from Auschwitz. And I doubt there were a lot of children.

http://www.buchenwald.de/index_cten.html

So, why am I not outraged? Because, in the end, Rosenblat was a victim of an attitude created by the publishing industry as well as Hollywood: Confuse fact and fiction! Pretty much most stories sold to you as "based on a true story" are fake, for the simple reason that real life does not make good stories in terms of Hollywood storytelling, i.e. the suspense and the happy ending and the good/bad-guys formula. Oddly enough, the same publishers that want fiction to be true force non-fiction writers to include narrative elements.

Of course he could have sold that story as fiction, but in this case, the publisher would not have bought it. The problem is the publishing industry, not the Rosenblats. So, lets try to untangle fiction and non-fiction and just label everything correctly. It would be a great step towards reclaiming the truth.

1 comment:

Loren said...

How awful that the Rosenblats lied about their story and that the publishers and movie makers fell for it. Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was a great book and now movie, never pretended to be true. The Rosenblats, like Madoff, are harming the good Jewish name and it's terrible.

I read a New York Times article about Stan Lee and Neal Adams the comic book artists supporting another TRUE Holocaust love story. There was a beautiful young artist, Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz to cheer them up. Dina's art became the reason she and her Mother survived Auschwitz.

Painting the mural for the children caused Dina to be taken in front of Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he decided to make her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber as long as she was doing painting for him.

Dina's story is true because some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. Also, 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 a fact.

I wish Oprah would do a story about Dina and her art not about the Rosenblats who were pulling the wool over all our eyes.

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