Sunday, December 2, 2007

Apples over the Fence: A Holocaust story that beggars the imagination

There is a Holocaust story making the rounds on the Internet which is clearly not true. It's about an inmate of a camp [a sub-camp of Buchenwald] who connects with a young girl outside the camp. She throws him an apple everyday over the fence. He tells her one day in May 1945 that she should not throw any more apples because at 10 a.m. the next morning he has appointment to appear at the gas chamber to be killed. This story has so many shortcomings that one hardly knows where to begin.

Let me focus only on the most fundamental one: Buchenwald had no gas chambers. In May 1945 no one was still being gassed. Moreover, Jews were not told ahead of time that they were going to be gassed. The whole idea behind the gassing was surprise and deception.

[There is another version on the Internet that places the camp at Terezin/ Theresienstadt and the author says that they were told to report to a section of the camp the next morning at 10 a.m. and they knew this meant they were to be gassed. But there were no gas chambers in Terezin.]

If you get this email do NOT send it on to other people. Delete it.

Not only do we need to be historically accurate for the simple sake of history. But on top of that, this kind of stuff is fodder for deniers.

There are many amazing stories about the Holocaust. Just the fact that some people managed to survive this hell is amazing in and of itself. We don't need embellished and/or false stories. The truth is far more than enough.

112 comments:

Moi said...

I remember a similar story that I read a number of years ago. It was even more incredible and was very real. Unfortunately, time has dulled the memory, and I can't recall the exact details very well. The story together with a photograph appeared in a New York Jewish newspaper. The tale began in either a ghetto or a labour camp (quite obviously not a concentration or death camp) and concerned a Jewish teenage boy who used to go every day to the barbed wire and was thrown bread by a much younger girl. He said that no words were exchanged but he always remembered her sparkling eyes. She said that she knew she was risking her life but felt some sort of kinship with the boy and was moved to do something. Years later, having survived the Holocaust, he was working in New York at a dead end job. Depressed and alone, his entire family having been murdered, his boss took pity on him and set him up on a date with a young woman. When he arrived at the cafe to meet this woman, he saw sitting there the girl with the sparkling eyes who had saved his life with her bread. They later married and had children together.

I remember being very moved by this story and the photograph of this wonderful couple. However, today, having met many Holocaust suvivors from Poland, some of whom, amazingly, are still "in hiding," I realise that there are other stories about the Holocaust just as incredible.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I am not sure if you are saying this is a genre of stories or not.

My objection to this story is the simple factual errors which raise questions about it.

As I said, by 1945 no one was being gassed. Buchenwald [or Terezin] did not have gas chambers. And no one knew that at 10 a.m. the next day they would be gassed.

That there are many amazing stories which are absolutely true goes without saying but I say it nonetheless.

FAIIRPLAY said...

The nearest true story I know of this type is; Every day an Austrian women living in the village of Mauthausen took her two children to school, the path she took closely followed the Mausthausen Camp Quarry barbed wire boundary line, not once did she ever look at the prisoners with sympathy, acknowledge their existance, or throw them some bread. Its possible her 2 children are still alive, and one wonders today what do they think of there mother's callousness. And speaking of callousness do a Google search for the Mauthausen prisoners escape, the escapees were hunted down as if they were wolves, or manic murderers and hacked to death on capture by these sweet 'Yodelling' Austrian villagers.

Blogger said...

Can't these deniers stop with this nonsense? Of course there were gas chambers! Deniers are unreasonable people ready to challege 2+2=4. For them, result is 5 and they are ready to defend it. Holocaust and genocide deniers are not people or "scholars" who exercise free speech; they are idiots, social outcasts, and individuals seeking attention.

Daniel
http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"blogger" - agreed.

hockey hound said...

"Holocaust and genocide deniers are not people or "scholars" who exercise free speech; they are idiots, social outcasts, and individuals seeking attention."

Couldn't have said it better myself, Blogger. Good to hear from you again.

FAIIRPLAY said...

If you look around you can find large numbers of men similar to David Irving, all of whom are peddling some cause or other. I see them as salespeople, whose product sells better if it's got 'a cult following'. Jumping forward we need to realise that no one wants to be part of a cult which kills innocent people, especially children, so being the cult leader or PR person you deny it ever happened, or if it did happen then the number of deaths involved was exaggerated. The historical truth matters not, what does matter is the soliciting of donations for the alleged cause and 'the sale of war books' to supporters, books which obviosly sell better if you can pass them off as accurate historical fact. So to sum up Irving is an book hustler and huckster. So was Hitler and Lenin, and within 10 years we will have another mock-demon to handle. And thats the way of the world.

Catamont said...

I wish I could remember the name of the childrens' book in which this story takes place. I know I read it in a childrens' book.

Sharon said...

Aish.com has a story in its Holocaust Studies section that recounts the experience of a Herman Rosenblatt:

http://www.aish.com/holocaust/people/
Apple_Over_the_Fence_.asp

Herman was a 9-year-old Polish Jewish boy when his family was herded into a small ghetto and later sent to Piotrkow, where his father dies of typhus. The family was later split apart. The mother is sent to Treblinka; Herman and his brothers to a series of labor camps, including three months of hard work at Buchenwald.

He is later sent to Schlieben labor camp, where he meets his apple-bearing benefactor who would become his wife years after the war's end.

There's no gas chamber or any ridiculous assertion that one has an "appointment" at 10 a.m. to go to the gas chambers.

So, it seems there is a story that's apparently true and a variation of the same that's downright ridiculous.

Sharon Gibson

FAIIRPLAY said...

A nine year old boy sent to a labour camp?. Hard labour in Buchenwald. Sorry, it needs to be said that 9 year old boys were literally thrown to one side, scrapped as if they were 89 year old, asthmatic OAP. It hurts me to tell you this but the trains were full of boys of every age right upto 17. The girl with the apples is a myth. So was her Mother with the carrier bag full of oranges?

Sharon said...

To Fairplay:

The boy in question was 9 when the Nazis invaded his village and herded the family into a ghetto. He wasn't 9 when he went to Buchenwald, but much older.

The story indicates he was 14 when he and his brothers were in labor camps and was tall his age.

If you visit www.aish.com and go to the tab marked Holocaust studies, you will find the story. It's a Jewish website and the details of this story seem valid.

There have been other accounts of teenagers who escaped death by passing themselves off as much older than their actual age.

demosthenes said...

The Oprah Winfrey show on Nov. 14, 2007 had Herman Rosenblat as a featured guest. His story reiterated all the lies that are the subject of this comment stream.

url - http://www.oprah.com/relationships/slide/20071114/rel_20071114_101.jhtml

The following comes directly from Oprah's website:

When he was 12, Herman Rosenblat and his family were taken from their home in Poland and sent to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Young Herman was forced to work shoveling bodies into a crematorium. All the while he did not know if he, too, would soon be killed.

One day two years later, Herman walked up to the barbed wire fence and saw a girl on the other side. "She says, 'What are you doing in there?'" Herman says. "I said to her, 'Can you give me something to eat?' And she took an apple out of her jacket."

The girl fed Herman an apple every day for seven months. Then one day he told her not to come back—he was being moved to another camp. "A tear came down her eyes," Herman says. "And as I turned around and went back I started to cry, too. I started to cry knowing that I might not see her again."

Herman was shipped to Czechoslovakia. Just two hours before he was scheduled to die in the gas chambers there, Russian troops liberated the camp and Herman was set free.

This man Rosenblat is a Denier's dream. Who will expose Oprah?

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Actually this Oprah version of the story comes closer to being possible. If this man was in a labor camp he might have known he was being shipped to another camp.

He was however NOT scheduled to die in a gas chamber right before the Russians arrived because, as far as I know, there were no gas chambers in Terezin.

They might have been planning to kill all the survivors right before the Russians arrived.

Sharon said...

Demosthenes,

You say who will expose Oprah?

This story also is shared, as I said before, at www.aish.com. Both venues are fairly reputable.

If this story is untrue, it's Herman Rosenblatt who should be exposed for duping Oprah and aish.com.

However, neither story--the one at aish.com or the Oprah account--makes mention of any gas chambers.

So, while there are slight variations between the account at aish.com and Oprah, Rosenblatt's account could be a credible one.

Sharon

Sharon said...

One other thing, the man pictured on the Oprah website is a slightly younger version of the man pictured at aish.com.

Sharon

FAIIRPLAY said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FAIIRPLAY said...

'I now feel that some benefit of the doubt needs to be given to this story.' Mostly because I have just spent 3 hours researching it. Explanation:

Herman Rosenblatt the narrator did NOT say he was working in an Buchenwald gas chamber moving bodies, what he did say was 'he was working in the Buchenwald camp crematorium. This was incorrectly reported'as the Buchenwald gas chamber'.

As for his Theresienstadt camp gas chamber remarks, I suspect that this was a slip of the tongue, I think he meant to say "the next day at 10am we were told to report for *shipment to Auschwitz to be gassed in the gas chambers there".

Finally both Ben Helfgott of Pyotrekov, 10 years old at the time registered at the glass factory in Pyotrekov to work. Whilst Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, born in 1937 in Pyotrekov, was a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp when age 8.

Mr Rosenblatt wife Roma [Polish J] the apple thrower mentions they were in hiding on an Schlieben farm about 90km from Berlin, she was 9 at the time. Schlieben is a very small village, its population today is just 2807 [31-12-2006] This story is so out of the ordinary it appears untrue.

Fairplay. Leeds UK

* Sources:

Gutman, Israel, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990 Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust – The Jewish Tragedy, William Collins Sons & Co. Limited, London, 1986 Gilbert, Martin. Holocaust Journey – Travelling in Search of the Past, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1997 Gilbert, Martin. The Boys – Triumph over Adversity, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996 Gill, Anton. The Journey Back from Hell – Conversations with Concentration Camp Survivors, Grafton Books, London, 1989 . Trunk, Isaiah. Judenrat – The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1996

demosthenes said...

To Sharon:

Apparently the url to the Oprah website did not print correctly in my response. It should have been
http://www.oprah.com/relationships/slide/20071114/rel_20071114_101.jhtml

Note that the story that Herman was only two hours away from the gas chamber at the time of his liberation by the Russians is in fact on the Oprah website.

A tale like this should have been vetted by the show.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I think Fairplay's research is very interesting and gets us closer to how stories like this make the rounds. Switching crematorium for gas chamber [which would make sense in a place like Birkenau but NOT in Buchenwald] is a very common mistake made by people who don't know the precise history of the Holocaust.

And bravo to you Fairplay for your proactive work in this regard.

In a way, this is what was done for my trial. We took a claim and followed it back to the sources. In our case we went back to the documents. In this case you did some decent research by going to reliable sources.

Yerachmiel said...

A reader of mine sent me a link to your posts. I just sent a version of this story this week to thousands of people and posted it on our Ascent Of Safed website for thousands more. (I conduct a weekly list for chasidic and related stories, and this is #526). HOWEVER, as I say in an editor's note at the end, I received the text:
"From “The Golden Times“ issue #5, the large-print quarterly of unitedjewishgenerations.com. The director, Rabbi Menachem Smith, a former Ascent staff member, has enjoyed the Rosenblats as Shabbat guests in his home, and heard the story from them personally, although they did not write this version."
I don't want to publically publish his address, but any skeptics who want to follow up his FIRST-HAND TESTIMONY can ask me for his email. The person who first wrote down the story, perhaps from memory, may have mixed up a few names of camps and means of murder, but is that justification to debunk the wonderful story of two delightful people and survivors?
All the best,
Yerachmiel Tilles
editor@ascentofsafed.com
(The story posting is at:
http://www.ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=newstory
but only starting Dec. 19

Deborah Lipstadt said...

is that justification to debunk the wonderful story of two delightful people and survivors?

I am afraid it is when it is passed around to 1000s of people in a form that is clearly impossible.

There is enough terrible truth in the stories told of the Holocaust. There is no need to embellish or paly with the truth.

I don't mean to suggest that Rosenblats were the ones who did so.

But someone did... possibly inadvertently...but they did.

shelllady said...

What are your sources for your statements? Wikipedia states "in early 1940...hydrogen cyanide...was tested on 250 Roma children from Brno at Buchenwald." There may not have been chambers, but evidentally people were being gassed.

Ian Thal said...

The Buchenwald gassings were experimental. The Germans were testing to see if gassing was an efficient means of mass murder.

Buchenwald was never an extermination camp the way Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and others were. This is not to say that mass murders did not happen at Buchenwald, just that extermination was not Buchenwald's official mission.

FAIIRPLAY said...

The following may add some substance to whats been said by others: 9 days after the liberation of Buchenwald Peter Knauf, a highly respected NY Time Magazine Journalist filed a lengthy report about he camp, he made no mention of a gas chamber. The following is a synopsis of what he wrote: When the American liberators arrived; they were expecting to find a gas chamber at Buchenwald. Instead they found a morgue in the basement of the crematorium building, where there were a few hooks on the wall. The prisoners told them it was customary to murder prisoners at Buchenwald by hanging them from these hooks until they choked to death. Shelllady report may be inaccurate, I've always understood that the first use of Cyanide gas was on Russian prisones in Barracks 11 Auschwitz. Her 1940 report predates this by some 18 months, taking a guess it might well be that these Gypsy-Roma children were killed with prussic acid injections [cyanide] and not gas. [In one report found it said u-p-t-o 250 Roma children were killed, not 250 in one killing?

Sharon said...

The issue at hand in this discussion was the fact that no gas chambers operated in Buchenwald, which was not designated as a death camp.

Of course Buchenwald was a barbarous place where people lost their lives, but there was no gassing installation(s) there such as those found at Auschwitz or Maidenek. Here are a few links concerning Buchenwald concentration camp.

http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Buchenwald/OOF120999.html

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE6D71130F933A15750C0A967958260

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005198

justrelax said...

Meet the Rosenblatts at Oprah's show. Go to http://www.oprah.com/relationships/slide/20071114/rel_20071114_101.jhtml
Somethimes wonderful stories are really true.

J. Cohen said...

This letter from a U.S. soldier to his wife was recently found by the daughter of the writer. It explicitly tells part of what took place at Buchenwald.

Germany
April 24, 1945

My dear Carol,
So many days always seem to elapse before I get around to writing the things I have in mind. This time, however I’m giving you a story that probably hasn’t been featured much as yet in the papers at home.
While serving as interpreter for one of our officers the other day, I came across the Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar, where Jews and political prisoners of Hitler were interned. We saw where these prisoners were hanged until they would practically be dead as punishment and also the device they were tied to while being beaten. Blood stains on the wood were still visible.
The barracks were crude and cold and terribly crowded and each man had only one blanket. We went through the laboratories where the SS troops experimented purely for the purpose of carrying out their mad whims that were without medical backing. Strange serums were concocted that were injected into the prisoners before being tried on white rats or guinea pigs.
The death rate was appalling. About 51,000 had died in this one camp alone. The operating table, where these German “butchers” performed their mysterious surgery was in the center of all patients in the ward. Anesthetics were omitted. The victims were shoved on shelf-like structures built from floor to ceiling and five men were packed into each little section of the shelf, regardless of how painful these crowded conditions might prove to be.
Later we went through the crematorium where the dead bodies were burned to eliminate the necessity of burying the multitudes that died and to destroy evidence. One room had a chute in which the bodies of people who weren’t quite dead yet were dropped. An SS trooper hit them over the skull and crushed it with a brutal looking club that was full of old blood stains. We saw several partially consumed bodies still in the furnaces. They were there when our troops barged in and caught those in charge in the midst of their crimes. The bone pile in the adjoining yard was not pleasant to gaze upon. These bones hadn’t been consumed completely by the fire.
Behind the building my heart skipped a beat when I beheld a hay wagon piled high with hundreds of dead bodies that were nothing but skin stretched over the skeleton. These had been fed on a starvation diet of a crust of bread and a little watery soup. They became weak, but were beaten until they went on working until death at long last freed them of this hellish misery.
Along the wall was another pile of bodies stacked up like cordwood, each more horrible than the other. Some of the bodies were bruised from beating and were so freshly dead, that they were still bleeding. It was raining and as the rain mingled with the blood on the ground, a little rivulet of blood trickled along at our feet as we stood horror stricken and gazed upon what was unbelievable, even though we were there to see it for ourselves.
The smell of the seared flesh clung to our clothes and made us shudder, when we thought of this terrible thing discovered by our troops. That is Hitlerism! I went away feeling that our being here is not in vain.
I’ll admit this is not a pleasant subject for a letter, but it is truth and it made such a lasting impression upon me, that I just can’t get it off my mind, and feel that others should hear of things like this to give them some notion of what we are up against.
Darling, I forgot to enclose the money for Mother’s flowers – just found the money order in my wallet – please excuse my negligence.
Love and a hug and kiss,
Witz


Dear Editor,
My father, Willard August Witzeling was born Aug. 16, 1917 in Kohlsville, Wisc. He was the son of Frank and Bertha Witzeling. He died Dec. 13, 1970 at the age of 53 in Sheboygan, Wisc. My mother, Carol Elizabeth Hahn Witzeling, born Sept. 24, 1918 in Clinton, Wisc., was the daughter of Walter and Martha Hahn. She died April 20, 1990 at the age of 71 in Sheboygan, Wisc.
Besides me, my parents had a son, Mark (Connie) Witzeling, Sheboygan, Wisc., who had two daughters, Melissa and Bethany. My husband John Wroble and I have a son Conor Jon, and we reside in Chandler, Ariz. My brother Mark and I were both adopted.
My father was a social studies teacher for 15 years, a guidance counselor for 9 years, and a debate coach at North High School in Sheboygan, Wisc. He was president of St. Paul Lutheran Church for three years.
Professionally, he was a two-term president of the Sheboygan Education Association and a member of the State and National Education Association. He was a Phi Delta Kappa (national honorary education fraternity), a member of the Wisconsin Personal and Guidance Association, the Wisconsin Association of Admission Counselors, and the Northeast Central Personnel and Guidance Association, Pi Kappa Alpha.
He served in the Amy Intelligence Corps during WWII on the European front as an interpreter.
As a young girl, I was told he went in with Life Magazine. I have many pictures including two from Buchenwald "Incinerator Row" and of bodies in the Crematorium at Buchenwald. My father always carried his camera. (Photojournalist, Margaret Bourke-White, Life Magazine, was the first to photograph Buchenwald.)
My mother kept all these letters in her night stand, until the day she died. She found me reading them many times. It was one of the first things I went to find after she died. The love that they shared is without words, and everlasting.
My son, Conor needed a picture of a man in uniform for a project. I told him his grandfather was in WWII, that’s when I found the Buchenwald letter.
Jane Wroble

AngelUndercoverOfLight said...

I do not know all the details about this particular story, nor do i know too much about the setup of the greman camps and who had gas chambers and who didn't. However, if someone had lived through such a horrific event as the holocoust, don't you think they would have a pretty good memory of what they went through. the prisoners may or may not have been told about their death appiontments. The germans may have decided that if the boys got word of the russian advance they may try to escape so they may have tried to dampen their sprits. we don't know exactly what happened so i don't think its fair to label someone as a liar or to discredit their story unless you have unfallible evidence from relevent parties

Sharon said...

AngelUndercoverOfLight:

You say you are unfamiliar with the set up of the German concentration camp system. You can't tell which were death camps and which were not.

Yet you have a problem with scholars and others who are familiar with the history of the Holocaust when we run into a story or account that begs credibility.

Even if such a story were told as fiction, Buchenwald was not a death camp and the Nazis certainly didn't inform people that it was time to go to the gas chambers.

There two facts are irreputable and it would be silly and irresponsible to take such a story at face value.

I am aware that there is a gentleman who has a similar story than the one going around on the Internet. His story was featured at aish.com; he also was a guest on Oprah.

However, I believe his account is a little more believable than the story that provides fodder for Holocaust deniers.

hockey hound said...

Excuse me, but to someone like me who is not a scholar but is familiar with the Holocaust, it actualy feels weird to read,"Buchenwald was not a death camp and the Nazis certainly didn't inform people that it was time to go to the gas chambers." You make it sound--for the sake of what?--to anyone not familiar with the Holocaust that Buchenwald was not such a bad place after all. Remember, "it was not a death camp" (as though Jews didn't suffer and die there), and the Nazis were not so bold as to wake you in order to inform you of your imminent demise.

It is at this point I think that the Holocaust becomes trivialized and the imcomprehensible horror and hatred of its implementation by the Nazis is obfuscated by petty arrogance and ego. But that's just me.

Ian Thal said...

it actualy feels weird to read,"Buchenwald was not a death camp and the Nazis certainly didn't inform people that it was time to go to the gas chambers." You make it sound--for the sake of what?--to anyone not familiar with the Holocaust that Buchenwald was not such a bad place after all.

Hockey Hound-

It is historically accurate to say that Buchenwald was not a death camp. There was suffering there, there was death there, but the camp was not designed for extermination (nor was Dachau, for that matter.)

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and several others were designed for extermination purposes.

Buchenwald killed primarily through the brutality of slave labor; Dachau primarily through the brutality of prison conditions. Both had gas chambers-- but they were apparently never used beyond the experimental phase.

If we care about the history, we have to represent it as accurately as our understanding allows. Remember that a major tactic of the deniers is to attack popular misconceptions, and then use that as an entry for their lies.

Marlene said...

This is the story Herman Rosenblat told to Shraga Simmons. Seems true to me!


http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/Apple_Over_the_Fence.asp

Sharon said...

hockeyhound wrote: it actualy feels weird to read,"Buchenwald was not a death camp and the Nazis certainly didn't inform people that it was time to go to the gas chambers." You make it sound--for the sake of what?--to anyone not familiar with the Holocaust that Buchenwald was not such a bad place after all. Remember, "it was not a death camp" (as though Jews didn't suffer and die there), and the Nazis were not so bold as to wake you in order to inform you of your imminent demise.

There is a big difference between saying that Buchenwald was not a death camp and saying that "it was not such a bad place after all." It certainly was a "bad place," as you say.

You really should read my other posts on this matter before attempting to put words in someone's mouth.

That Buchenwald--for all the horrors, brutality and death that happened there--was not a death camp speaks volumes about the inhumanity and suffering that define the Holocaust.

Sharon said...

It is historically accurate to say that Buchenwald was not a death camp. There was suffering there, there was death there, but the camp was not designed for extermination (nor was Dachau, for that matter.)

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and several others were designed for extermination purposes.

Buchenwald killed primarily through the brutality of slave labor; Dachau primarily through the brutality of prison conditions. Both had gas chambers-- but they were apparently never used beyond the experimental phase.

If we care about the history, we have to represent it as accurately as our understanding allows. Remember that a major tactic of the deniers is to attack popular misconceptions, and then use that as an entry for their lies.


Ian,

And this is why it’s important to understand there were different facets to the Holocaust.

Buchenwald, Dachau and other such concentration camps were not--for all their cruelty and brutality--extermination camps. Those camps which were death camps had few survivors due to the fact that nearly everyone brought in to such places were as a whole instantly murdered.

In Martin Gilbert’s Holocaust, the author states of the hundreds of thousands murdered at Chelmno death camp, two survived.

Similarly, there were but a handful of survivors from death camps such as Sobibor and Maidenek.

Auschwitz was an exception in that there were thousands who were able to survive the war. This due to the fact that Auschwitz-Birkenau was a part of the larger complex at Auschwitz which used prisoners for slave labor.

Rather than murdering all who disembarked from the cattle cars, the Nazi selected people for slave labor and slected others for death.

Those who were chosen for slave labor worked at Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II or one of subcamps at this complex; some were transferred to other places altogether.

This resulted in a much larger number of survivors of that particular camp.

To point out such differences between a concentration camp and a death camp enforces what is known about the Holocaust rather trivialize it.

hockey hound said...

"You really should read my other posts on this matter before attempting to put words in someone's mouth"

I simply stated quite clearly how your post made me feel. Am I to be blamed for how I feel? What's the Yiddish proverb? "Sometimes a fool can say something clever."

Regardless, though, no matter all the appellatives, the Nazis designating Jews to die through slave labour is also a death sentence. The difference between a "death camp" and a "concentration camp" is being profiled here as signifying the difference between life and death. Perhaps it was that in a very tiny measure. I don't read it that way. But again, that's just me. All I know is that the Nazis wanted to murder all the Jews. Pretty uncomplicated, really.

And as for survival, how do you define survival? So many Jews-men, women, and children-were so messed up psychologically and emotionally after their liberation that the word survival becomes translated into a moot term. But again, that's just me.

Sharon said...

I simply stated quite clearly how your post made me feel...Regardless, though, no matter all the appellatives, the Nazis designating Jews to die through slave labour is also a death sentence. The difference between a "death camp" and a "concentration camp" is being profiled here as signifying the difference between life and death. Perhaps it was that in a very tiny measure. I don't read it that way. But again, that's just me.


Your feelings--and believe me, I have my own on this subject--still do not change the fact that Buchenwald was not an extermination center.

The concern about the story that is circulating the Internet is that it is full inaccuarcies that provide possible fodder for Holocaust deniers.

I am sorry your feelings are troubled by historical analysis; Holocaust deniers use whatever they can to spread their lies irrespective of anyone's feelings or truth and memory.

Europe girl said...

Just want to say: In my very small European contry people are taking the story about Herman and Roma as a new a reason to deny Holocaust. Not much is needed fort that and this partly unbelievable story is taken as a good reason.

Scott said...

Look... If the story is embelished from one accounting to the other... Thats seperate from the true basics...

Sorry.. Seeing this interview of the Herman and Roma.. Its a real story..

http://www.truveo.com/Herman-and-Roma-on-Oprah/id/267433843

But some of the facts may be exagerated

Madman of Chu said...

There is a recently published memoir by one Sidney Finkel that testifies to the presence of a Herman Rosenblat at Terezin in 1945. The facts as recounted by that memoir are opposed to those of the story being recounted on Oprah, in children's books, in a planned movie &c. Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/007123456X/qid=1217823762/ref=sib_books_pg?ie=UTF8&keywords=herman%20rosenblat&p=S02F&checkSum=bp4pA0MSEpbxOlVr3%252BOG2YiirAy4PNv5meMSB04qlmI%253D

It seems possible that someone has either assumed the identity of a Holocaust survivor or, if the Herman Rosenblat of Finkel's memoir and Oprah are indeed the same person, he is embellishing his story.

Mike said...

History is an interesting thing. There is the general experience of it, and the personal experience of it. Deborah and some others who have commented here are undoubtedly correct in their general historical details such as which camps were designed specifically for extermination, which had gas chambers, at which dates liberation occurred, whether prisoners were generally told what was in store for them, etc.

However, there is nothing about Herman's personal experience that can be automatically said to be untrue based on these general facts. That most guards would not inform their prisoners of their upcoming fate does not eliminate the possibility that at least one guard told at least one prisoner that he was going to die (whether as a deception or not).

Prisoners might also have relied on guards for such details as names of camps, times of day, and dates of the year. These guards were murderers. There is no question that they were also capable of lies and deception.

If Herman says he was told that prisoners were gassed at his camp, or that he was going to such and such camp, or that he was going to die at such and such time, I'm inclined to believe that he was told these things. Whether or not he was told the truth is much more subject to doubt, knowing who would have been supplying the information to him.

As far as being miraculously fed, and miraculously meeting and marrying his benefactor many years later, as a theist, I have no problem believing in this possibility--especially since my own experience indicates that miracles are not as uncommon as many people suppose.

MJ said...

I understand the concerns about historical accuracy, and yet what we know of memory tells us that there will always (or at least often) be errors and distortions in such accounts. I happen to know Herman and Roma Rosenblat, who are members of my synagogue. I believe the basic story is true. When such stories circulate by e-mail, they join a long list of other accounts that are pure fabrication, and I am glad that Deborah Lipstadt is vigilant in pointing out errors of fact--the kinds of errors that deniers seize upon. And yet, it's unfortunate that the element of truth (which in this story I believe to be considerable) gets discarded along with the errors. Continued research is what we need most, and I'm glad that Deborah and others are doing it.

MJ said...

I would like to add a few words to my previous comment. Although I have seen the part about the gas chambers in other published versions of the Rosenblat story, I have not heard Herman Rosenblat mention it himself. As I recall the story, he was transferred out of the camp, only to meet Roma on the blind date years later. Distortions take place through retellings by others, too, and not simply or necessarily in the accounts of the survivors themselves.

bubble1460 said...

i understand your concern about history but u don't know what your talking about. people, or the years, have retold and retold the story so any number of them mite have changed it so you really have no idea if it's right or not

Denis said...

This has turned into an interesting if limited debate. As a historian, I've found myself in a similar situation to Ms Lipstadt, using hard facts/sources to challenge something that has an emotional appeal to other people. In this case, it's not hard to see what may have happened. When stories are transmitted from mouth to mouth, tellers like to insert small details in order to increase the dramatic appeal of what they are telling. In the same way that a fiction writer has to introduce extra features when telling what may see to be a matter of pure coincidence, so narrators who pass on a slightly implausible story do similar things. The Rosenblat story has its appeal in the fact that it is so implausible. Which of us hasn't thought how remarkable it would be to meet that pretty girl from college twenty or thirty years later? And what a near-miracle it would be if we did. There's a dreamlike quality to this (hence the insertion of his seeing his mother in a dream, foretelling the appearance of an angel), there's dramatic tension in his being in a camp and the girl on the outside, hence the insertion of 'I was due to die at 10.00 o'clock, but miraculously the Russians turned up and I was saved'. No doubt the core of the story is true (and it's still a wonderful story), but the embellished version has added value. I think it's time someone asked Mr Rosenblat to clarify what really happened'.
As for some people who seem to assume Deborah Lipstadt is a Holocaust denier.... Oh, dear.

Mike said...

Denis,

You seem to be questioning the possibility of divine or spiritual intervention (You wrote: "...hence the INSERTION of his seeing his mother in a dream, foretelling the appearance of an angel," emphasis mine). If so, your assumption is less tenable than the opposite assumption, since only one example of such intervention would be sufficient to reject your hypothesis, but you would need to show that divine intervention has never occurred in all the history of the world in order to retain it. Believe what you will, but I have experienced spiritual intervention myself and so the story as reported by Herman is quite believable.

In addition, the apparent problems associated with some second hand (plus) accounts in question are not evident in the first hand account I have read (which was supposedly obtained directly from Herman). For example, he doesn't have the guard telling them that they will die, but the prisoners are told to report at 10:00 the next morning to a certain place at the camp, and the prisoners believe that this means death. He also didn't say that he couldn't be seen by the guards when he was near the fence, actually he said the opposite, that there was great risk in going to the fence. This risk was the reason he didn't tell his brothers about his visit to the fence or show them the apples. They were very protective and he knew they would forbid him to go back. To read this first person account, go to http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/Apple_Over_the_Fence.asp

Sharon said...

As for some people who seem to assume Deborah Lipstadt is a Holocaust denier.... Oh, dear. <<

I've never heard that one. And she's been called a lot of names from looking at the hate mail she has received and posted on her web blog.

And you are right about Mr. Rosenblatt. It would be very helpful for him to set the record straight on his experience. There are many accounts from that time that are full of coincidences and last-minute reprieves from injury or death.

Such accounts can and should be told without providing fodder for Holocaust deniers.

Mike said...

It seems to me that many survivors of the holocaust are going to have experienced some amazing "coincidences and last-minute reprieves from injury or death," for that is what surviving a near death situation entails. I can't fully explain why as a child I ran when a tiny branch landed by my side during a windstorm. Many small branches and leaves were flying around, but I was having a great time playing with a frisbee in the wind. But this one tiny branch caught my attention, and I ran to the porch. Just as I turned back to look at the lawn, an enormous branch, from a century old tree, crashed down right where I had been standing. It would likely have killed me. Surviving the holocaust is miraculous, but that does not provide fodder for deniers, unless they are also atheists.

I'm not sure if this is what some people are saying, but I can't comprehend the notion that one would have to deny God's activity in order to affirm that the holocaust occurred. Surely many survivors emerged more convinced than ever both of an active, loving God, and of the undeniable existence of evil.

Ian Thal said...

Mike,

Professor Lipstadt is a historian and the professional activities of a historian, no matter their religious beliefs and practices, involves empirically verified facts. A historian cannot be satisfied with "God's love" as a causal explanation of why some surived, just as a historian cannot be satisfied with "God's anger" as an explanation as to why so may were murdered.

The religious beliefs of the survivors may very well be interesting, but they do not explain how and why this horror occurred.

Mike said...

Ian,

I didn't argue that Deborah should use God's love as a causal explanation (although there is no objective reason why she should not). But neither should (or does) she deny the empirical facts simply because they would be implausible if God's love were not operating. Accurate description does not necessarily require causal inference, nor is the latter necessarily a historian's primary concern.

That said, no empirical fact is entirely free of interpretation. My narrow escape from the tree branch can be interpreted as God's love, or it can be interpreted as the effect of good luck, chance, reflex, or subconscious alarm (or a thousand other things). Some occurrences, however, greatly strain the laws of probability (given the operation of chance alone), and those who resist the concept of miracles are strongly tempted to deny that they ever occurred.

So, in short, my point was that the difficulties of causal explanation (whether such explanation requires God's activity or not) should not cause us to abandon the facts. Nevertheless, some comments on here (not Deborah's) have seemed to assume that some (possibly factual) elements of the story are improbable--apparently on no other basis than a reluctance to believe in the miraculous.

Mike

SaraS said...

And yet there are stories from every period in history that are apocryphal. No one denies the US Civil War simply because a single story turns out to be untrue. No one denies that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated simply because Stanton was quoted as saying "Now he belongs to the ages" when it MIGHT have been "Now he belongs to the angels."
This whole discussion, in my VERY HUMBLE opinion, is the kind of thing that gives deniers fodder: Why does it matter about a single anecdote? The important thing is the millions of pages of actual documentation made by the Nazis themselves. The denier ploy of "falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" just plays right into this.
Of course, this is just my opinion.

Mike said...

If someone uses stories like this as an excuse to deny the holocaust, then, I highly doubt they truly need any excuse at all because this story provides none. That's the thing about irrationality, it cannot be countered with rationality by definition. Holocaust deniers are like believers in a flat earth. As long as they stay locked in their own living rooms they never will have their beliefs challenged no matter how good the evidence. I suspect that others deniers are just blatant liers and/or antisemites. You can't really help liars much by showing them the truth, because they already know it. You know someone is really confused when they attempt to use a truth to deny another truth.

ALUMNI said...

WOW. I HAVE READ ALL THE COMMENTS AND DEBORAH'S BLOG AND AM AMAZED THAT THIS DEBATE HAS CONTINUED OVER 9 MONTHS. INCREDIBLE. IT'S ARGUMENTATIVE COMMENTS HAVE CHANGED FROM QUESTIONING FACTUAL CONTENT TO QUESTIONINING DEVINE INTERVENTION.

THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND HUMANS ERR. IF THE FACTS OF THE STORY HAVE BEEN BLURRED THEN YES, I AGREE, DONT EMBELLISH STORIES - ITS THE SAME AS LYING. HOWEVER, I DO KNOW HOW THE RETELLING OF A STORY CAN DISTORT THE FACTS AND "ADD-ONS" INADVERTENTLY MANIFEST THEMSELVES AND THIS IS OBVIOUSLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THIS CASE. THIS IS HOWEVER NOT ENOUGH TO DISCREDIT HERMAN AND ROMA'S STORY.

I WAS ONE OF THOSE THAT RECEIVED AN EMAIL WITH THIS VERY MOVING STORY AND WAS INTERESTED TO SEE HOW MUCH OF IT IS TRUE. I AGREE THAT YOU CAN'T DISPROVE OR TRY AND "PLAY DOWN" AN ACTUAL HISTORICAL EVENT AS DENIERS ARE WANT TO DO BUT THINK OF IT THIS WAY - THE HOLOCAUST WAS SUCH A STAIN ON HUMAN NATURE WE ALL FEEL SOMETHING ABOUT IT WHETHER ITS HORROR, UNBELIEF OR DISGUST. DENIERS ARE TRYING TO PACIFY THEIR CONSCIENCE AND THAT IS THE WAY THEY DO IT. WHAT CAN THEY POSSIBLY GAIN BY TRYING TO DISPROVE IT - IT HAPPENED. PERIOD.

WITH REGARD TO THE ACTUAL STORY, PEOPLE ALWAYS SEEM TO LOOK AT THE NEGATIVE AND CAN'T SEEM TO BELIEVE IN THE UNBELIEVABLE. IS IT SO HARD TO IMAGINE SOMETHING LIKE THE ROSEBLAT STORY HAPPENING? THE CRUX OF THE MATTER IS THAT THESE TWO PEOPLE FOUND EACH OTHER MIRACULOUSLY NO MATTER WHAT WAY YOU LOOK AT IT, MADE A LIFE TOGETHER, HAD CHILDREN AND LIVED TO TELL THEIR TALE. HAVE HUMANS BECOME SO CYNICAL AND COLD-HEARTED TO DISTORT EVERYTHING THEY SEE OR HEAR INTO SOME SORDID EXPLANATION SO THAT THEY CAN MENTALLY CHEW AND SPIT UPON IT? HAVE WE BECOME SO UNBEARABLY CALLOUS IN OUR HEARTS. MIRACLES HAPPEN EVERYDAY, I'M LIVING PROOF OF THAT. WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO QUESTION THE UNBELIEVABLE? IT'S AMAZING HOW PEOPLE ALWAYS HAVE TO TRY AND PROVE OR JUSTIFY SOMETHING EXISTS BEFORE THEY BELIEVE IT. STRANGE, GOD NEVER DOES THAT. HE DOESN'T NEED TO. HE IS.

LIVE AND LET LIVE - STOP TEARING EACH OTHER UP - THE NAZI'S DID IT PHYSICALLY BUT DON'T WE DO IT VERBALLY?

freddie said...

Deborah, why don't you just admit you were wrong and apologise to the Rosenblats for this most unpleasant blog? That such a story should generate so much ill-will -- what does it tell us?

Norah said...

So sad. Why can't we just say Mazel Tov to Herman and Roma? My grandmother lost her whole family in the Holocaust. Of course, the story is embellished--but it's a STORY. How much pain can we ask one person to remember--and why? I am thrilled that they are both alive; that they have children and grandchildren and that they can dance. If deniers want to deny the tragedies, just tell them to ask me about my grandmother's history!

Marc said...

They are making a movie on this story. It is true, unbelievable but true. If certain things are out of place, tell me how easy you would find it to remember every fricking detail of a gruesome event you experienced.

Kathryn said...

One of the commenters expressed skepticism that anyone who'd been through something so awful would forget any of the details. I strenuously disagree! I think Marc and Mike are much more realistic about human nature. If anything, the greater the horror, the more likely, it seems to me, that one's psyche would try to block it out--and in that process, some of the details would likely get blocked out or scrambled.

I also agree with Mike and others that just because an event, or series of events, is unlikely, is not by itself sufficient cause to deem it impossible. I have been witness to some things I can only explain as miracles.

dan said...

What if it turns out that this book is sort of fictiony, sort of made
up, but still a good story? This kind of faux book has been done
before, some women in Boston wrote a book about living wolves during
the Holocaust and France even made a movie of it, but it turns out the
book was a fiction, not a true story as she said it was. Has anyone,
like a reporter for the NYTimes or LA Times, checked into the true
veracity of this lovely inspiring "story". I hope I am wrong, but has
anything checked. If there is a smoking gun here it will be
embarassing.


a friend told me: "Based on my research and that of others, there is

no reason to question the fact that Herman was held in Nazi camps and
that Roma was posing as a Christian in a village. I don't doubt at all
that an apple was passed once or more, or that they met by chance
years later. But they may have exaggerated the fact that they managed
to toss an apple every single day for months. I think there is no way
to verify it was true, but maybe I am making too much of my
skepticism. So I hope you're wrong and that no one sees any reason to
doubt them. "



AND the AP reporter even asks this: "It all seems too remarkable to be
believed. Rosenblat insists it is all true." WHY THE WORD INSISTS
HERE?

The AP news said this too: Michael Berenbaum, a distinguished

Holocaust scholar who has authored a dozen books, has read

Rosenblatt's memoir and sees no reason to question it. [BUT JUST

TALKING ABOUT QUESTIONING IT MEANS SOME PEOPLE ARE QUESTIONING IT....]

"I wasn't born then so I can't say I was an eyewitness. But it's
credible," Berenbaum said. "Crazier things have happened."


So...

What if this "story", the backstory, turns out to be a fib? Remember

those other Holocaust stories that later turned out to be pure

fiction? And also got made into movies? Some reporter should check
into this to see if indeed the Rosenblats, who seem like a lovely

living couple, have indeed told the entire ''truth'' about how they
met. I suspect they did tell the truth. I hope it's a true story.
But. Some reporter should check.

dan said...

I want to differentiate here between the children's book by Laurie Friedman titled ANGEL GIRL that is said to be "based on a true story" and written by a third party after talking to the Rosenblats. But ThEY did not write the book, and while it is not billed as a fictional children's story, neither is it billed as a TRUE STORY, just "based on a true story". So the kids book is cool. Well done.

What I worry about, is Herman's long awaited 350 page autobiography, due out in February 2009 from Berkeley BoOKS, and the movie from his bio book, due out nobody knows when. BUt what is Herman's backstory is not really really true? About the angel and the apples and the fence, and what if Roma was NOT the girl he says threw apples over the fence? It's still a great story, yes, but is is true? That's all I want to know, the backstory. Neither Herman's publisher or PR office or Publishers Weekly writer boosting his book will reply to my emails, although the kids book PR people did reply very politely and informatively. They are good people. Berkley seems to be stonewalling any independent inquiries. why is that? I wrote polite letters to the publisher, their PR office and the PW writer who hyped the book, but nobody there will respond. And the movie website seems to have no email contact and says some Hungarina producer is making the movie but no date has been set. What's up with that?

For more news, see snopes.com and the forum at snopes. I heard that some reproters from NYTimes and Wash Post are looking into this now. Should be a good story once it comes out. I hope I am wrong and that HR's backstory is 100% truth. Let's see.

Cory said...

I just read the story for the first time. Deborah, who apparently started this thread, got the story wrong from how I read it. The man told the girl he could no longer meet her because he was being moved to another camp, not because he was going to be gassed. At the camp he was moved to he believed he was going to be gassed. I think the story is true.

dan said...

There have been many examples of phoney memoirs published in the last
few years. It seems that:

1. Publishers aren't asking enough questions.

2. Some writers want the greater publicity and Hollywood movie deal
spotlight that their 'true story' gives them, rather than risking the
obscurity of fiction writing.

3. Other writers have psychological problems and blend truth and
fiction often, not just when they write, evn when they talk or
reminisce or try to recall past events -- or in some cases when
prompted by advisors and managers looking for a book deal or movie
deal.

4. Readers lap up true tales of suffering and magic stories of finding
love by complete chance on a blind date with someone who you knew long
ago in a Nazi camp.

There needs to be some due diligence done before some of these memoirs
are rushed into print. Readers have a right to expect non-fiction to
be just that.

see

Crying Wolf

Why did it take so long for a far-fetched Holocaust memoir to be debunked?

By Blake Eskin
Feb. 29, 2008,

In 2002, I published a book about a man who called himself Binjamin
Wilkomirski, the author of Fragments, an acclaimed but, it turned out,
bogus Holocaust memoir. Wilkomirski—his actual name was Bruno
Doessekker—used my own family history (my great-grandmother was a
Wilkomirski) to concoct a Jewish identity for himself.

dan said...

A newspaper editor who i contacted about this, not Jewish, said that he/she was not angry at me for bringing this up but

..."I just don't think investigating the Rosenblat's back story is a worthy use of my time. However, if you or someone else find proof that they have made this up, some news organization will undoubtedly publish the results. But I will not be involved."

dan said...

about a different book it was said:

[The book was not unknown to Holocaust scholars,....

''It's preposterous,'' says xxxxx of xxxx, author of
numerous books on the Holocaust and considered by many the preeminent
authority on survivor narratives. xxxx says a woman -- he can't
remember who -- called him about ''xxxx'' to get his view of it.

''She sketched the story and I said, 'Don't do it,''' he recalls.
''She said, 'Why not?' I said, 'because it isn't true.' I said, 'Ask
her how she crossed the Rhine, in the middle of the war, when the SS
is guarding the bridges at both ends. Find the Elbe on a map and ask
how a little girl goes across that river. She speaks no German, she's
Jewish, poorly dressed, and no one says, 'Who are you, little girl?' I
said it's a bad idea, don't do it, it will prove an embarrassment.''

dan said...

It takes aim at "the sentimentality of the 'Holocaust industry,'" says
Boris Kachka, and "the spotty morality of a victim-besotted media that
edits out all ambiguity."

dan said...

Could this ever come to pass? An imaginary conversation?

"Look, please, I am an old man, and my memory is like an old people, sometimes I don't get everything right, but the purpose of telling the apples over the fence story, and the blind date girl being the same girl who threw me those apples over the fence, well, maybe it's not completely true, maybe my memory was playing tricks on me, these things happen as we age, you know, but as I tried to put the story together piece by piece, and as me and Roma talked about our love and long marriage for many years, we often talked about what it might be like to put our story into a book or a movie, so we began trying to recall things that happened in those awful days when we were just kids, teens, Roma was 8 or 9, and maybe it was not HER at the fence, and maybe there were no APPLES thrown over any fence, maybe this was a dream I was recalling, you know, dreams and memories and old age, it can get confusing, but as far as I can tell and remember, these things or something like this, happened, but yes, maybe not the way we told it to Oprah or to the AP or to dear Laurie Friedman the nice book writer lady, maybe we sort of got caught up in fibs and exaggerations and memory problems, but the main thing is I love Roma, have always loved her, we were meant to be, we have had a long and happy marriage, and if she was not really the girl at the fence, who knows, only God knows, and if there was no fence, who knows, only God knows, but why should anyone care, the main thing is God willing, we have lived this far so far and we survived the Holocaust, so why is anyone questioning us. We wanted to tell a good story, no? Isn't that story a good story? Isn't that kids book a good story? And the movie they are going to make, it will be a good story, too. So what if there were no apples or no fence, and Roma was not the girl at the fence that was not there, so what? It's a story. God loves good stories. God gave us this story. Enjoy the story. Stop investigating us. We are good Jews. Isn't that enough?"

dan said...

An editor at a major newwspaper told me today:

"Dear Dan
The relevant portion of the snopes account re the Rosenblats is, for me, at the end where it reads" "It is churlish to doubt this life-affirming tale."

"However, if you find out the Rosenblats made this whole story up and waited 60 years before personally profiting from it, let me know and I will tell the editors at my paper. As an editor , this is not an investigation I am willing or interested in taking on. "

Case closed I guess.

dan said...

Also bear in mind:

"It is thought that [some Holocaust memoir writers] might have a psychological syndrome in which they find meaning by having survived hell on earth. Whatever the explanation, they maintains that the memoirs are true."

But are they? Several have been exposed over the past 15 years. Is the Rosenblat story the next one to be looked into?

dan said...

Deborah,
I think this might be the smoking gun. Herman told an interviewer in an earlier interview that he not only met Roma at the fence during the war and then on the blind date that Oprah likes to talk about, but he also meet her ihn 1950 in Isreal even by divine introduction.

He says: "It was clear that Divine destiny brought us together. Actually, God had tried one time previously. In 1950, Roma was in Israel studying to be a nurse, and I came to Israel on a visit. I was with a group of people who met with that group of nurses, and Roma and I actually spent some time talking. But we didn't get into details about the war, and since eight years had passed, we didn't recognize each other."

Now if you believe that, i have a bridge to sell you, right?

dan said...

A reporter tells me today:

"Dan,

I am familiar with this story. There are many issues that real Holocaust survivors and historians have critiqued. But it seems that the critique is more along the lines of being embellished and romanticized as opposed to completely fabricated, let alone a concerted scam to defraud and harm people as in the Misha case.

In any case, I cannot work on this case right now, but I can tell you what you can do to follow up. First, build the truth - don't pick at potential holes in the war memories, since he was a child.

I personally would try and find a NYC researcher to start back in the 1990s newspapers to find out how Oprah learned about the story and what the story was then, particularly since in some versions Herman talks about having been shot in a robbery in 1992 - apparently a trauma that brought out dreams of his mother and the war memories.

Best wishes,"

dan said...

I have heard now that some independent researchers with foresnic research backgrounds are looking into specific documents and records re all this and they should have results in a few days. I have no idea what this means and what documents are being examined, but wait and see. I don't know these people, but they seem to know what they are doing and they hvae success in uncovering the truth in several other Holocaust-related cases. What side are they on? They are on the side of truth. Where ever truth shall be. On va voir, as the French say...

dan said...

Whatever happens with Herman's backstory, truth or not, this is the typical reaction of most non-Jewish bloggers online on the hundreds of blogs that reprint the AP story:

One woman writes: "Even though the full story may not be true, the truth of human emotion and integrity is what really matters. And one can easily see an interaction like that between two young people in a horrible time, so...

I'm going to believe it, whether it's totally true or not."

--Wendy, CO EMT-B

A similar comment was made to me by a very compassionate Orthodox Jewish woman in Toronto, too, when I asked her if she thought this backstory was true or not. People just want to believe it. It's amazing how gullible people are and WANT to be!!!

fjg064 said...

i went to a book signing in miami, florida on nov6 of this year. ms. friedman the author of "angel girl" mr. rosenblat and ms. rosenblat were present.
ms. friedman gave a very nice opening of her book and then mr. rosenblat spoke. i found mr. rosenblat charismatic and a wonderful story teloler. i truly want to believe the story. perhaps it is true but possibly with some embellishments. the picture of herman with his parents taken supposedly in 1936 shows a boy who should be at least 9 years old and perhaps even 12...it is possible though that he was 5 or 6 but seems improbable. if mr. rosenblat was 9 in 1936 that would make him 14-16 in 1942. that is not in character with the statement that he was 11 when he was in the camp... since quite a bit of the story was left out, i may be getting the wrong prisoner camp in my thinking.

the part though is if herman met roma, the "angel girl" in germany how could her parents or her guardian let roma wander near the camp if she spoke no german? it would put everyone in harms way. i am a jew and proud of it and as i said i hope the story is based on truthfulness. fjg064

southern sister said...

I am intrigued by this account. having only received an email with this story in it this week I was taken aback to start reading it and instantly already knew the story. My daughter bought a book home from school in the early 90's about a polish boy in a concentration camp who by chance one day saw a little girl the other side of the perimeter fence. She bought food to him every day for months and then he had to go. At first I wondered if I was experiencing a very strong case of deja vu but I spoke to my daughter and without giving anything away, I asked her if she remembered this story and she does, very clearly as it had a very great impact on her at the time. This was a children's reading book published in the early 90's and in recent years I have been looking to find a copy of it but couldn't remember the title.

Now the comments at the top of this stream from 'Moi' and another from 'Catamount' a few posts later, with mine and my daughters recollection of a virtually identical children's story already being published in the 90's, must shed doubt on the credibility of this couples story.

I doubt you'll ever get to the bottom of whether this is a true story based on the arguments about historical details etc or by questioning divine intervention .... for me, the story has already been told in a work of fiction, nearly twenty years ago.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Southern Sister: The fact that it was a children's book does not invalidate its authenticity. Maybe the children's author got the story from them....

hockey hound said...

"The fact that it was a children's book does not invalidate its authenticity. Maybe the children's author got the story from them...."

My thought exactly, Prof. Lipstadt.

dan said...

INNOCENTI Roberto wrote a chidlren's book called ''Rose Blanche '' - not the same story but here is synopsis:

''When a German girl discovers a concentration camp near her home, she takes food daily to the children there until, near the end of the war, she is killed in crossfire.''

Still, the Rosenblat's backstory stands, until it it proven to be not factual with hard evidence, which is unlikely. Unless someone eventually spills the beans about all this, or confesses. But probably, we will never know. As it is, a wonderful chidlren's book, ANGEL GIRL, and a wonderful autobio coming February 2009 and a great movie coming 2010 starring Richard Dreyfuss according to emails making the rounds.

dan said...

I hear from a friend:

"Maria Malgardis, a Paris journalist, wrote an article on the Misha Defonseca story last June, where she noted that Disney released a movie about a young girl searching for her father in the wilds of the US west and living with wolves around 1985 when Misha came to this country.

So if there was a children's book out about 20 years ago with the same story as the Herman Roma story discussed on Lipstadt blog that would be an interesting find, but still just circumstantial evidence as they say. Without a smoking gun, the backstory cannot be disproven. Herman will have to up and confess one day, if there is anything to confess, maybe in a face to face interview with Oprah on live TV, and maybe then and only then will we learn the truth of all this. Until then, Herman's story is gospel. He said. He says she says. Herman and Roma. They make a good team. And who knows, maybe their backstory really IS true!

southern sister said...

Hmmm ... I wonder what happened to my reply comment....? Oh well, in short what I said was that I agree a previous story doesn't disprove their claims, just that it casts doubt on this being a new previously untold story which is the impression given by the promotion of the book and film.
And Dan ... thank you for the research but no that isn't the book I read nearly 20 years ago.

AncestralManor said...

The Herman and Roma Rosenblat story is not historically accurate. In fact there are many smoking guns that belie the entire story.

Herman has said repeatedly over the last decade or so that his Holocaust time line along with his three protective older brothers is:
1936 Bydgoszcz, Poland
1939 Piotrkow ghetto
1942 Piotrkow to Buchenwald, Germany
1944 Schlieben
1945 Theresienstadt, Czech

I had tracked all 4 brothers in the US - through ship and plane manifests, immigration and naturalizations, common addresses, wives names and property owned - from 1948 when Samuel came to NY through Canada with his wife Jutta, followed by Herman in 1950, then the other two brothers in the next few years.

However, Yadvashem.org has a Buchenwald list where Herman and his brothers from Piotrkow (in the Plaszow, Poland region) - numbered 94983, 94977, 94980, 94984 - are on the "List of Jews who were deported from Camp Plaszow to Buchenwald on December 2, 1944; Many of these deportees were then transferred to Hasag-Schlieben on December 8, 1944."

To see the scanned image search for Plaszow (as the place), 1944 (as the year) and Jewish (as the identity) on this YadVashem page -
http://www4.yadvashem.org/lwp/workplace/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_3N7/.cmd/acd/.ar/sa.init/.c/6_0_288/.ce/7_0_3T2/.p/5_0_2E5

The 1990s seemed to have spawned a number of folks who decided to spin Holocaust fables. The Misha Defonseca and Rachel Sarai’s Vineyard tales were fabrications by World War II child suvivors who wanted to escalate their life stories to that of Holocaust survivors.

Whereas, Herman and Roma (Radzicki) Rosenblat (Rozenblat) were actual Holocaust survivors who were motivated to denigrate their real experience with a fairy tale.

Why? I only have dotted lines for their domestic and financial problems in the US records so far, but those dotted lines point to a dark back story.

My thanks to Danny Bloom for bombarding me with clues, the many comments here in this blog that provided further clues, Peter Kubicek's astute observations as a survivor of the camps and Ken Waltzer - who's current project is a book on "The Rescue of Children and Youth at Buchenwald."

The question still remains. How and when will the real stories take their rightful place above those that are fabricated?

Sharon Sergeant

dan said...

Wow, Sharon, you really did your homework! For those readers here who do not know who she is, Ms Sergeant played a key role in unraveling the true nature of the literary hoax that became the book MISHA AND THE WOLVES by Defonseca, who claimed she was Jewish and then later confessed she was not Jewish and had not lived with wolves and was not a Holocaust survivor. She is a forensic investigator, whatever that means, and she is very good at it, as can be seen above. There are still more dots to connect but this is a beginning. If some reporter from the Miami Herald or New York Times now looks into this, and maybe Oprah's people, too, before she invites Herman and Roma on her TV show again next year, for his 2009 autobiography, a 300 page story written by himself, and maybe with the help of a ghost-writer, maybe the truth of the backstory that Herman has been telling will come to light.

Again, as Sharon said above, Hermand is a real Holocaust survivor and that history must be respected. But whether or not the backstory of the apples and the fence and the girl at the fence and the girl turns out to be Roma, and he meets Roma again in 1950 when she is a nurse in Israel, but he does not know she is Roma from the fence then, and then again he meets her again in 1958 on a blind date in NYC and yes she is Roma from the fence, God didn't want to rush things with that 1950 encounter, etc etc......it IS a wonderful story, and it might even be true. Let's see what the New York Times says after Oprah reads this blog.

One theory that does make sense is that after the 1992 robbery attempt at Herman's store in the Bronx, he was shot, had to go to hospital for operation, he says, maybe during that trauma of being shot at and wounded and the operation and the medicines used in the operation, maybe Herman "remembered" things during that post op recovery that are not entirely in keeping with the reality of his previous life. Maybe they are. Time will tell.

Sharon has done amazing legwork here. Above. Take a look and see. Peter Kubicek is now on vacation in Europe and not accessing his email, but when he returns, I am sure he will have a lot to say here about Sharon's findings so far.

More to come, I am sure.

And again, as Sharon says so well: "The question still remains. How and when will the real stories take their rightful place above those that are fabricated?"

That is what this long discussion is all about. At the moment, we still do not have proof that Herman made up some of his backstory, it might be all completely true, and more power to him if it is, but if it is NOT, then who will answer to the little fibs that made their way into the print media?

But we still don't know the truth. Later, it will come out. Perhaps when confronted with some of the research that Sharon has done, Herman will admit something that he has not wanted to admit for a while. Then again, maybe he will continue to insist it is all true.

God knows. I don't.

dan said...

Some background on other books and backstories that got shot down later.

"Well, this is a blog entry I never thought I would be making, but I guess you never can tell. As you may have seen elsewhere, we along with Deborah Rey have decided to withdraw ‘Rachel Sarai’s Vineyard’ from sale. This hasn’t been what you would call an easy decision, and in a lot of ways it sickens me that it has come to this. Since the book was first announced last year, it seems to have become a target for all sorts of people intent on proving that it is a hoax, that Deborah is a liar. This wasn’t exactly unexpected given the subject matter, but in February, petrol was well and truly thrown onto the fire when it became known that Misha Defonseca’s ‘memoir’ was in reality a work of fantasy. Whilst as a book, it was nothing like Deborah’s, it did involve a young girl doing something extraordinary during the war, and because of this people put two and two together, got the answer wrong and Deborah, and Rachel Sarai’s Vineyard were on trial again. Guilty until proven innocent. Moving forward things got more complicated. Sharon Sergeant, a lady who was involved in uncovering the Defonseca hoax got in touch describing Deborah as a ‘Defonseca copyist’, and told us that Deborah was in fact the former radio star Dody Cowan. The latter part, at least, was true, and despite previously choosing not to do so, Deborah confirmed this on her blog. Did this come as a surprise? No, of course not. Deborah has chosen a pen name and we had respected her privacy. Did it have a major effect? No, I think the world simply yawned. It was hardly news. A while after this, we received a letter from Deborah’s brother, who strenuously disputed parts of the book, mainly centring on the family aspects, though at the same time confirming in general terms that Deborah and her family were indeed involved in the Dutch resistance during World War Two. Admittedly whilst arguing over some of the details. This proved to be the final straw for Deborah after many months of ceaseless anonymous attacks, and as both she and we couldn’t see that there would ever be an end to it all the decision was made that Rachel Sarai’s Vineyard would be withdrawn, and now it has been. I guess at this point, the obvious question we will hear is ‘was it a hoax?’ but as I’ve said many times, we have received evidence of Deborah’s work during the war, and now have heard from her brother who is perhaps the only surviving witness to part of what happened at that time, and he has confirmed that they were there and that their family indeed did do resistance work. I hope that this will bury that rumour once and for all. As I say, between her brother’s account and Deborah’s, there are conflicts on the detail, but I’m sure there always is between two witnesses of anything. Overall, I can only say that the book has been withdrawn not because it is wrong, flawed or fantasy, but because one lady who had already been through more as a child than anybody ever should have to, has continued to be attacked as she reached her seventieth birthday, and quite simply couldn’t see an end to it. Neither can we. As part of the withdrawal then, we will be contacting everybody that purchased a copy of RSV direct, offering a refund. To go with this, Deborah has written a note, which I reproduce below, and sums up how we all feel about this. I’d also ask that if anybody has queries, to contact us at bluechrome rather than Deborah, I think the lady has already had enough to deal with. Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

It seems to be so, but since I feel there is nothing more to prove and refuse to yield to the Fascist tactics of a few fanatics, I want to make it very clear to those who have bought Rachel Sarai's Vineyard and read it, and also to those who haven't read it and won't, that it is a book about me, about my life during the war and my relationship with the person I called Mother until the day of her funeral, and the one person who gave me unadulterated love during the first nearly seven years of my life.
It tells of things I actually lived and of things I have been told, and there is not one instance where I 'thumb-sucked' the story.

I am being called a liar. I am not and I cannot tell you how much it saddens me to, together with bluechrome publishing, have to come to this decision.

It is better like this, because they will not stop. The smell of the almighty dollar is so strong, that they will not shy back from a form of literary rape, yet another betrayal and constant harassment.

It is better like this. One should not set a young fish free in polluted water."

-- Deborah Rey
June 2008

http://bluechromeblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/rachel-sarais-vineyard-cancelled.html

AncestralManor said...

The crux of the Rachel Sarai's Vineyard story was that her wicked stepmother turned her real Jewish mother into the Nazis. However, author Deborah Rey (Dorothy Koenig by birth, Dody Cowan in her first marriage) has an older brother Rob Koenig who offered to take a DNA test to determine if his mother (the purported stepmother) was also the author's real mother. Thus the continued refrain of "conflicts on the detail" and "harrassment" is also not historically accurate.

The real story of the Koenig family's resistance work and aid to hidden children in the Netherlands is poignant. But it is not the story that Deborah Rey told.

Susie Davidson has recently released a documentary based on her interviews with both Holocaust survivors and liberators in the Boston area.
http://irefusedtodie.com/

RTBF the national TV station in Belgium did a documentary about Misha Defonseca's fraud that presents not only the real experiences of Holocaust survivors, but other people who were directly damaged. http://www.actu24.be/article/mag/tele/lhistoire_de_la___fausse_juive__qui_criait_au_loup/202064.aspx
An English language distribution is in progress.

Today, thanks to the internet connections and many digitization projects, we can find evidence for truth or fiction that was previously hidden behind what people wanted to believe - whatever their persuasion.

However, the climate of how well-meaning emotion and even legal opinion can run amok is still with us.

Jane Daniel, the original publisher of the Misha Defonseca story, details a gauntlet over more than a decade that continues today.
http://www.amazon.com/Bestseller-Jane-Daniel/dp/0615237517/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226574066&sr=1-1

A UK documentary about a 911 fraud that came from Spain to the US tells us that there always will be people who have some need to don the cloak of a survivor of any disastrous event.
http://uk-tv-guide.com/pick-of-the-day/11-9-2008/documentary-the-faker-the-extraordinary-story-of-tania-head

There are 911 deniers also.

We need to be careful with lending our emotions and opinions to stories that are not supported by facts. The reality is that documentation of the Holocaust is not only becoming more accessible, but is more important than ever to grasp.

Sharon Sergeant

dan said...

It has been almost a year since Professor Lipstadt posted this post on December 2, 2007.... stating that the email/book is very likely not based on fact......and these things take time to unravel.

Perhaps, some of the relatives of Herman or Roman, like their brothers or sisters, or even children, will add to the chorus here later, or in interviews with the Miami Herald or N Y Times, and tell their side of the story. It's like Rashomon, the famous Japanese movie with many different sides of the truth....

Will we ever know in this case? God knows. I don't. But this case is very very interesting, and it's already been discussed here for a year......

dan said...

Here is what some other people in the USA and Europe that I have contacted are saying here and there:

1) Herman was a real prisoner, in Piotrkow in the factory labor camp called Dietrich Fischer (Di-Fi) on the Bugaj, in Buchenwald briefly, arriving Dec. 2, 1944, and then in Schlieben, sent Dec. 8, 1944. He was liberated at Theresienstadt;

2) Question about Herman's wife Roma -- was she and her family in Schlieben? AP story says she was living there as civilian posing as Christian family...

3) BUT...Schlieben was a complex place where prisoners were brutalized, esp. rebuilding a bombed out factory; but it was also a place where youths found shelter in a packing operation with German civilian women workers, who brought them extra food and took interest in their health and sanitation.

4) We don't believe the story and we have talked with Holocaust survivors who don't believe the story. Defies imagination, and is overdrawn -- he says he worked in crematory in Buchenwald, unlikely; he says he met her at fence in Schlieben daily -- unlikely.

5) To reporters who might be doing research on this story: "I think the story is dangerous, a deflection, a misguided effort to find light in the darkness. I've read how so many people online and on the internet and in mass emails react to it. Nice Hollywood feel good movie story: God helped them find one another. A remarkable love story. I feel there is some light somewhere in this darkness, but it's not with the story we're looking at."

FAIIRPLAY said...

I doubted this story at first but after spending some time digging into the facts I soon realised we were dealing with an honest person, a survivor who cares about the truth, a person who cares about those who perished and is honourable in every respect. I have read all the recent posts on here and ask "Would all the Revisionists please stand up to be counted. I feel hurt for, and embarrassed for and on behalf of Herman and Roma Rosenblat, poor people to go through their camp experiences then years later to be cat-called. May I add that they were in a sub camp of Buchenwald, a labour camp were conditions were not so strict and that quite a number of children were also held prisoner. This goes against the grain of whats commonly thought [and taught] and is what made me doubt this story at first. We all owe Herman a deep apology.

dan said...

Fairplay,
TO be fair, you make some good points. If those who doubt Herman's backstory are wrong, yes, we will make an apology to him when the truth finally comes out, if it warrrants such. And if he has been stretching the truth, so to speak, with his backstory comments to the AP and Miami Herald and Newsday reports over the past 10 years, then he will owe the doubters an apology. God knows.

One thing, though, Fairplay. Roma told the AP reporter in Miami last month that she was in a nearby town posing as a member of a Christian family to survive, not in a camp. Read that AP story again. I might be wrong. I often am.

And Fairplay, I am sure you know that Ferman also claimed in call to a rabbi that he had met Roma in 1950 in Israel when she was a nurse there and he went there on a visit and they MET, but God didn't want them to know each other's past then so their small talk never went to the camp experiences and he left her in Israel without falling in love. That had to wait until God arranged the blind date in 1958. Do you believe that?

AncestralManor said...

Fairplay,

I understand your concern for "fair play" from your moniker and your comments.

I am sure we all would prefer to believe as you hope that Herman is "a survivor who cares about the truth, a person who cares about those who perished and is honourable in every respect ..."

However, the facts and the documentation in the Herman Rosenblat story are not supporting that hope.

It is not revisionism. It is a question of "Does the truth matter?" If Herman is not telling the truth and those with less access to the media are eclipsed by somebody who is not telling the truth ...
well that's a problem for all survivors, historians and anybody in the general public who genuinely wants to understand and learn.

It is my hope that those who do tell the truth are not diminished by those who do not.

Misremembering is not a crime. But if I wanted to be a standard bearer, the most publicized Holocaust couple in the world, I would check records to get my facts straight.

Herman and Roma Rosenblat have a responsiility to document what they say.

I currently have no proof that Roma Radzicki Rosenblat was ever near Buchenwald or Schlieben. It is not likely a matter of whether Roma's documentation is possible - simply when it will be accessible.

What we do know is that Herman was passing through Buchenwald between December 2, 1944 and December 8, 1944 on his way to Schlieben from the forced labor of the Bugaj works in Piotrkow. As horrible as the forced labor was for him in Piotrkow, Herman's account of Buchenwald is subject to valid criticism because Herman was only there for a few days - not the length or circumstances of his highly publicized story.

Once Herman left Buchenwald for Schlieben on December 8, 1944 - he had just five months to be in both Schlieben and Theresienstadt - where he was liberated with his three older brothers, then sent to the UK for education and aid.

Schlieben is where Herman repeatedly says his 7 months of apple/bread help from Roma occurred. Did Herman disremember that such an occurrence could never have been more than five months - only beginning in the winter of 1944, not the summer of 1944 as he describes? Was it even possible that Roma was in Schlieben between December 1944 and February of 1945 as he describes?

Herman's birth date is likely September 1929 as his US records state and Roma's is likely born in 1932. So when Roma was 9, and Herman was 12 - Herman was in the Piotrkow ghetto.

Did their chance encounter and apple/bread over the fence story actually happen in Piotrkow, and is misremembered as Schlieben?

Or is it fabricated?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I can tell you that while Roma and Herman are said to have had a much publicized 50th wedding anniversary this year, they testified in a 1988 affadavit for a Florida real estate transaction that their marriage date was 1959.
Innocuous rush to their 50th wedding anniversary? Perhaps.

There are other zig zags in their story.

Sharon Sergeant

dan said...

An editor at the Miami Herald newspaper, where Herman lives, after hearing about all this meshagus, has asked me to call him on Monday. That paper might pursue all this and try to ascertain the Rashomonian truth, if there is one.

-- Danny

Meanwhile, a sensitve writer at another blog truthorfictiondotcom I think, it is called, he or she wrote:

"[Herman's story is] A beautiful story and one that brought tears. Then I read the blogs
casting doubt on its veracity. At first I felt the resentment of
anyone who has been conned by a sob story. But then I thought why be
resentful? I don't know if this story is true or not, in part or the
whole, fabricated or embellished. What I do know is that the vital
elements must have taken place in this and 6 million other accounts
of that tragic period in human history, each of which has the capacity
to tear one's heart out. Looked at in this light, any tears from
reading stories like this one or watching film portrayals such as
''Sophie's Choice'' and ''Schindler's List'' should not be shed grudgingly.

But you are right, Peter Kubicek, the ''Truth'' is important also,
especially in this case, so that the Holocaust Deniers cannot be given fodder
for their sad cynicism. You, Peter, point out that Holocaust survivors will be
dead soon, and I wish there was a way of keeping you all alive
forever to bear witness and prevent it from happening again. For now,
you are all in our thoughts whenever we warm ourselves by the fire and
remember how you froze, and in our hearts when we share a good meal
with our families around us and remember how you starved, your own
families torn apart."

dan said...

A friend of mine tells me:

"Danny,

Although we all might be wrong, my own profound sense is that backstory thing is that this is an 'embellished' story, shading over into an invented story.

There could be something deeply 'psychological' going on, the key to which is his mother appearing Herman's dreams -- first, after he was shot in NYC in 1992, and almost bled to death during operation, then in the story he told in 1996 on Oprah -- as if his own mother was maybe giving him 'permission' to go on and live and love.

The key event might be his leaving his mother during the selection at Piotrkow. His story might be self-invented permission from his mother to go on and live....

A German historian has also raised good questions about Roma hiding in Schlieben. Very small town, unlikely place for family hiding together to establish themselves. Unlikely even if in Schlieben that the family would permit a 9 year old to be out and about around a concentration camp.

RE the news that Herman and Roma recently appeared this month at a Miami Holocaust education event for kids, I mean, wow, the use of these two people for Holocaust education might be called by some observers as a 'travesty'. Their backstory, if it turns out NOT to be true, as they insist it is, is precisely what is NOT needed for Holocaust education in schools."

dan said...

Truth whisperes also tell me:

"More information has been 'uncovered' re the family genealogy. Apparently, Roma was with her family, Bernard and Rozalia (Zalctreger) Radziki from Krosniewice, north of Lodz, in Poland. She was born in January 1933, so she was 11 in 1944.
Her sister Mila was also likely there, born in 1934, so she was 10 yers old in 1944.

The people of the Krosniewice ghetto were deported in March of 1942. So how did they get to Germany, and when? And what were they doing in Schlieben, by all accounts a small village and therefore not a great place to hide? Where is all this sleuthing leading. God only knows...."

kay said...

I don't know why that person wrote "If you get this e-mail don't send it delete it" and also said it wasn't true. Personally, even if it wasn't true, which i like to believe it is very true, i would still send this e-mail. #1- it's beautiful and it gives people hope, why not share it with people?
Honestly, if you want to ruin everyones opinions on that piece, whatever go ahead but you're not changing my mind.

FAIIRPLAY said...

May I add my 2 cents worth. Some years ago in Leeds, England, we had a talk given on the Holocaust by two Holocaust Survivors. I went along expecting to hear things about the camps I had never heard before from the mouth of an actual survivor. To my surprise I discovered that 'they did not know a great deal [of detail] about the camps they were in, none whatsoever about the German officers or camp staff, nor could they describe their experiences accurately. One of the speakers spoke at great length about *Auschwitz, and his four week stay there, during his talk he mentioned several times the four gas chambers - and four smoking crematorum chimneys. The innocent mistake made by him was; *he was in Birkenau Camp* and not Auschwitz". Auschwitz, which was 5 km away - did not have four gas chambers, it had one. The same with Herman story, he said he worked in the crematorium in Buchenwald [he did] and this innocent remark gave the inacccurate impression that there must have been bodies everywhere - so listeners thought he must have been working adjacent to a 'gas chamber".

It needs to be said that any young person confined in a camp - see's whats happening around him with a childs mind and eyes and his written recollections are rather superficial and school-boyish. A boy of 12, is a boy of 12, and he recalls things with a childs memories. Proof of this is 90% of all survivors books are a poor read if your looking for detail. When you compare "a camp childs book" to the two best you can spot the huge difference. The two best being "Five Chimneys" and "A Doctor in Auschwitz".

dan said...

A friend of mine, a psychiattrist in Chicago, told me today re this case:

"We may be at the end of any real Holocaust memoirs now anyways, due to
time. Perhaps we'll move over into myths, the kind of heroic journeys
that Joseph Campbell popularized. But, of course, we'll need to never
forget what we have known to be true."

dan said...

This saga gets weirder and weirder. In the run-up to the February publication of Herman's much anticipated memoir, I hear reputable whispers in the blogosphere saying things like this:



A respected Jewish historian has discovered that the entire backstory
that Herman and Roma told Oprah and the Associated Press reporter in
Miami -- and also a Newsday reporter in New York a few years ago -- might be a complete hoax. Why? Because some people close to Herman are now talking: One says:

"I was
closer with his late older brother, Sam, but I know Herman. We were in the same camps together. Same age. I know this man is making this up. Out of whole cloth. Why? I have no idea!"

This man says is greatly concerned about ''The Angel in the Fence'' autobiography
soon to be published and that he knew of the story for many
years now, had been asked about it by other survivors, and he worries
about its impact. If it is later reported and revealed to be a hoax.

"The backstory is a figment of Herman's imagination. There is not a word
of truth in what he is saying. I feel sick.... (by the upcoming publication of
the book)," the man says online.

"Even Herman's late older brother Sam, now dead, who lived in Boca
Raton, Florida was embarassed and ashamed by Herman's story. He didn't know
where the story came from."

The man also says he knew Herman for years and never head the backstory
until the 1990s. Herman never mentioned over the years how he met his
wife in a camp, never told the Oprah backstory, never, period.

This Holocaust survivor is especially concerned that a concoction like this puts a
lie to and undermines serious Holocaust memoirs.

"It is really sad. I
read these stories (i.e., untruthful or
embellished stories). They always upset me. If someone would
investigate it, he would expose it easily. They (such authors as Herman) are
not even aware of the inconsistencies...."

"My guess is the book will be recalled before publication and cancelled. OR, recalled after publication when some enterprising newspaper interviews Herman to get the true confession from him. Or, maybe it's all true, and all the above comments were way wide of the mark. EVen Dr Lipstadt's oriognal blog post. That the story was not true."

FAIIRPLAY said...

Dan,

It might be hard to believe but in the 1940's, in the small English town I was born in, German POW walked freely about and even went to the cinema, worked on farms, and could be seen in small groups going to and fro.

My few memories of them is their wearing strange sandy coloured Afrika Corp caps and my asking my mother 'Can't they escape?', she replied 'We are an Island, were can they go?'. Another memory was a German soldier coming up to me in our *high street [*Main St / USA] I must have been about 4-5 years old and, he gave me a bag of sweeets, being sweets he didn't want because they were "cough lozenzes", probably bought by him because normal *sweets [*candy / USA] were rationed and unobtainable. I mention this because I'm certain someone somewhere will claim this is all untrue, that POWs were kept caged in camps, that they didn't go to to the cinema, nor could they be seen as I've described. My reply to this is: Herman was given apples, whilst I was given cough candy, and who's bothered?

In another post Dan you mention myths, can I add that without myth's society would break down and it's myths that even though untrue keeps us sane. Gods a myth, so was Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Samson, Moses, Robin Hood, Batman and Superman - but don't you dare mention it, their too many Church jobs at stake!!

Sharon from WI said...

Fairplay, your memories of German POWs making their way along main street and attending movies in your town are not that farfetched.

Although I was not alive during the 40s, I do know that German POWs in the United States were treated to movies--and they usually were seated in front of African American GIs who were subject to Jim Crow customs even as they served their country.

So to suggest that German POWs saw movies and were treated humanely in England and the States is not unimaginable.

But with regard to Nazi Germany, we all know that the Germans were brutal and inhumane to their prisoners--particularly Jews.

To compare the treatment of German POWs in England and the States to the treatment Jews and others received from the Nazi is like--no pun intended--comparing apples and oranges.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Sharon, I was pointing out that Herman got apples, whilst I got from a German POW 'cough candy'. I did not overlook the inhumane treatment of Jews by the Germans.

My views are that the Jews were never an important factor in German life and their influence was greatly exaggerated, for the most part they were miserably poor, unemployed, quiet and unassuming.

Suffice to say if a Jewish Community anywhere in the world build a synagogue, use hebrew books & speak hebrew in their religious services and Yiddish in private, call their Minister Rabbi, and display on synagogue roofs and windows a Magom Dovid, then as sure as rain follows snow 'your going to get your windows broken'. Religious hatred, colour-bars and envy are the oldest of hates, so are burning churches, killing the congregants, damagin gravestones and sadly ever-so-often genocide. Its all well and good speaking about freedom to worship as a freedom to strive for, but in practice you have to allow for never ending setbacks and trials. The usual retort to this reasoning is "forgive me for trying to live, for trying to be Jewish. I'm saying be Jewish by all means but be well prepared for kicks and knocks". [Thats Life]

dan said...

A Christian evangelical who praises Herman's book on the publisher's new website, and one guesses this pastor has READ the entire book but one cannot be sure, he said the book is completely TRUE and a great love story, so someone asked him if he was AWARE that the book might NOT be completely true and might even be greatly EMBELLISHED in some parts, like the apples over the fence and the girl and the blind date parts, and this PHD pastor said in a polite reply by email:

"Thank you for your concern about the Herman Rosenblat story. That would truly be a great disappointment if your accusations prove to be true. We will wait and see how this turns out."
[-- Richard Booker of the Sounds of the Trumpet, Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies
The Woodlands TX 77381] which believes and preaches the END TIMES and also invited HERmAN AND ROMA to their church in 2007 to speak and they did speak there.

dan said...

Perhaos...i found a smoking gun. It turns out that the speakers bureau that represents Herman and Roma for their new book is a Christian Christ-centric speakers bureau. Now WHY ON EARTH would Herman want to be represented by a group like that? Is this entire book thing being orchestrated by some born-again Christian operative who intends to use Herman's story as another example of a Jewish person converting to Christ? This very same agency represents another author who was Jewish once, born into a Jewish family, found Jesus at age 33 and became famous for that, and Herman is being repped by this man, Wes Yoder. What is going on here?

Don't believe me? Read THIS:

the speakers bureau that is listed on HErman's website for the book now is called Ambassador Speaker's Bureau, led by Wes Yoder, and as I suspected from the Richard Booker blurb quote, it is a CHRISTIAN SPEAKERS BUREAU

*** why would Herman sign up with a Christian speakers bureau if he is a Holocaust survivor?

re:

"Ambassador is the oldest and most established Christian-based talent agency in the United States. The company was founded in 1973 by Wes Yoder to represent many of the emerging contemporary Christian music artists. During the next ten years Ambassador became the premiere agency for Christian musicians and artists.

Ambassador Speakers Bureau, established in 1984, provides speakers for special program events nationwide. We are the leading provider of speakers for the Christian and faith-based community and conduct a thriving business providing speakers to university, education, non-profit, political and business meetings.

Ambassador's Literary department represents a growing list of best-selling authors. We represent select authors and writers who are published by the leading religious and general market publishers in the United States and Europe."

ARE YOU STILL UNCONVINCED THAT SOMETHING FUNNY IS GOING ON HERE WITH THIS HERMAN BACKSTORY BOOK?

dan said...

Someone emailed me offline and gave me some good advice in regards to my obsessive posts above on this suject. They told me to be careful because some people might perceive my posts as "coming very close to vilifying Mr. Rosenblat....".......and of course, that is NOT my intention. But if I am coming close to doing that, then maybe it is time for me to take a few steps back and back off from this for a while, and let other investigators look into this. I agree. The truthfulness of the text of Herman's is what is most important to establish, not this other stuff I have brought up. So let me back off here and bid adieu for a few weeks or months until the book is published. And let's let the professional critics and historians chime in. I am just an amateur gumshoe and a not very good one at that.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Dan,

Maybe you should back off, your posts are getting my back up and presumably others to. In my book anyone who was a child camp survivor and whose married to another h-survivor are 'Jewish heroes', worthy of polite respect bordering on hero worship, and if I lived near them I promise you Herman and Rosa would never want for another apple in their lives. Please try and think of what this might be doing to Herman and Rosa, think what thoughts are going through their minds today and can I be so bold as to say 'lets adopt them both'.

In Wales we have an well known Welsh song called 'Men of Harlech stand before you all through the night'. It describes how a band of Welshmen stood with swords in hand guarding a river bridge crossing from an English invasion. I feel that way about Herman and Rosa, meaning I'll guard them gladly all through the night and expect you to join me. So how about it, let them be and be grateful you have not stood in their shoes or travelled their roads.

BOB FAIRPLAY LEEDS UK.

dan said...

There is another deeply felt, touching news story in the Miami Herald today by freelance reporter Jennifer Cohen, and it really is a touching story. Ms Cohen repeats all the old stuff from the October 12 AP story by Matt Sedensky and adds to it. But of course, nowhere does she question any of the backstory, for to do so would be churlish, vilifying and an expression of schadenfreude. But read it online at the Miami Herald website. About 800 words. Very well written.

She concludes this way: "Many people have read about Herman and Roma's love story in an e-mail chain letter circulating on the Internet. Most wonder if it is true."

"This was how award-winning children's author Laurie Friedman first learned of the Rosenblats' story."

''I was so moved. I put my head down on my desk and just wept. I knew this would make a fantastic children's book,'' said Friedman,
a Coral Gables resident, who knew she had to tell this story to children. She set out to find Herman and Roma Rosenblat, who by chance lived only 30 minutes away in North Miami Beach.

Together, the three collaborated on a picture book for kids ages 7 to 10. Called ''Angel Girl'', it was published in September by Lerner Books in Minneapolis, a Jewish firm.

''They met with me and hour after hour told me all of the very difficult details they went through,'' Friedman said. 'It was a very collaborative effort. I would bring illustrations to them and ask, `Is this what the fence looked like?' I wanted to make sure I got the details right.''

Rosenblat, now 80, and Friedman recently spoke about Angel Girl at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center's Jewish Book Festival in Davie.

''Five hundred people attended the program, one of our largest audiences for a Jewish Book Festival program,'' said the center's Nancy Steinberg Stearn. ``It was inspiring to see.''

So this backstory still has legs. I am beginning now to believe it must be true.

FAIIRPLAY said...

The truth of the story resides in 'whether or not Roma hid out in this village posing as a christian child and wandered around the village'. Knowing the habits of children I'd say she did wander close to the camp and knowing or suspecting the prisoners needed extra [sic] food she took some for them. It might well be there was an orchard nearby and she collected 'windfalls' from the ground and took them to throw to detainees. A research clue is when was she in the village and was it during the apple growing and ripening season, which in Europe is later than the USA.

* During the war I lived close to an RAF base, I can assure you each day upwards of 20 children waited at the end of the runaways to 'wave' the planes off, and we even counted them back in. I can recall young children asking the pilots and 'tail end Johnnys'[rear gunners] their bombing destination. I mention this because children and adults were fascinated by the war and war news and the 'going on', in local camps dominated the life of all small towns and villages. One presumes it was the same in Germany. Herman and Rosas story is true, but whether it's good material for a childrens book is debatable

[Q1: should young children read about the Holocaust? ] [Q2: Is it good for Jewish children to read about the Holocaust and anti-semitismn is also highly debatable]

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Fairplay:
this was supposed to have happened during the winter of 1945, one of the coldest in history. Exactly where did this little girl get those apples?

It is fairly certain that this is a hoax. Historians are working on it.

The facts will emerge shortly and for those who care about truth it will not be a nice situation.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Prof Lipstadt.

I did a Google search this morning and found that Roma said she was 'living on a farm', and the labour camp abutted and adjoined the farm property'. From this I surmised maybe the farm had an orchard and because of this apples in storage and, if the farmer was good enough to hide them - then maybe he was good enough to overlook a child taking apples for detainees. They, Herman and Rosa, look a really lovely couple, so your remarks that it's fairly certain it's an hoax causes dry-eyed tears here. I hope it's not an hoax because if it is; it's like spitting on the graves of those whose identity is known only unto God.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Fairplay:
That's a lot of "ifs." Nice looking people can engage in big hoaxes...

Jay said...

Indeed!

Many (most?) 70, 80 year old people look 'nice'. It ain't necessarily so. Look at the hoax (almost) perpetrated by Deborah Rey, aged 70
(Rachel Sarai's Vineyard), which was luckily halted before publication.

Jay said...

Indeed!

Many (most?) 70, 80 year old people look 'nice'. It ain't necessarily
so. Look at the hoax (almost) perpetrated by Deborah Rey, aged 70
(Rachel Sarai's Vineyard), which was luckily halted before publication.

Sharon from WI said...

I've read The New Republic's latest installments on Rosenblat's story.

Even his own family and others who were in the camp with him say it's untrue. It's such a shame that he would provide fodder for deniers with his tale.

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=91de36ee-ef8b-4695-99c9-8c0d8c28d1ec

I am so disappointed--and angry. His friends and family begged him not to go through with this story and he ignored them.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Daily Mail, London. Dec 29 2008.
[Inner Pages story / headlined]

Holocaust Love Fake.

Death camp 'sweethearts'feted by Hollywood admit their story was fantasy. Photo Caption: True Love, Herman and Roma Rosenblat had never met in Germany.

I imagine that by the end of this week it's more than likely that all major European newspapers, including those in Germany and Poland, will be carrying this news item.

Ellen said...

This hoax is a tragedy especially now, when Bernie Madoff's odious actions have harmed the Jewish good name. I am surprised to hear that the movie maker is still proceeding to make the movie based on a lie.

There are so many other worthwhile projects based on true love stories from the Holocaust like the one about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt - the beautiful young woman who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz - and after the liberation met and married the animator who did the original Disney movie.

I also love the story about Dina's courage to stand up to Dr. Mengele and save her mother and herself from the gas chamber. Dr Mengele - Dr Death - let Dina and her mother live in exchange for her doing paintings for him. Some of these paintings survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum so Dina's story is true beyond any doubt.

I would like to see true and wonderful stories like Dina's be publicized, not these hoax tales that destroy credibility and trust.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Ellen made some very good points in her post and I'm certain we will all second her suggestions.

Someday a film needs to be made about the camps that mentions Mengeles Gypsy boy 'in the white suit', the genius child who was adopted by a whole womans barracks, the love affair between a guard and a female prisoner who hated him, and the little girl of age 6, who whilst being undressed in the gas chamber ante-chamber, said to a worker 'Get your hands of my little brother, I'll undress him'. You then have the ballerina who stabbed a guard, and the two brothers who each grabbed a guard and jumped off the cliff face to their deaths in Mauthausen Quarry. For a brief while Roma joined this heroic group - Shame on her.

David said...

Prof. Lipstadt,

Your scholarship & learning has shown again what others need understand... that one need be careful & that a certain knowledge is necessary to uncover what may be untruths or attempted manipulation, re holocaust issues.

I don't want to be too harsh but Mr Rosenblat, through stupidy & greed, has caused unnecessary damage. Our duty, as human beings, is to state accurately the terrible truth of the events of the holocaust. What this man has done is a great shame.

David