December 31, 2008 / 6:29 AM / 10 years ago

Second book on fake Holocaust love story cancelled

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - A second book featuring a Holocaust love story between Florida-based Herman and Roma Rosenblat was canceled on Tuesday after the publisher found out that the couple’s amazing tale was not true.

For over a decade, Herman Rosenblat, 79, told newspapers, magazines and twice appeared on the Oprah Winfrey TV show to tell the story of how he met his wife-to-be when she threw apples and bread to him over the fence of a Nazi concentration camp.

He said they met again by chance on a blind date in New York years later, fell in love and got married.

But under scrutiny from scholars writing in The New Republic, Rosenblat admitted this week that he invented the love story, prompting Penguin Book’s imprint Berkley Books to cancel publication of his memoir due out in February.

Lerner Publishing Group, which specializes in children’s books, on Tuesday said it was also recalling a newly released picture book “Angel Girl” based on the Rosenblat’s story after being “shocked and disappointed” to learn the story was not true.

“While this tragic event in world history needs to be taught to children, it is imperative that it is done so in a factual way that doesn’t sacrifice veracity for emotional impact,” said Lerner Publishing’s President Adam Lerner in a statement.

“We have been misled by the Rosenblats.”

Lerner said the company had recalled the book from the market, canceled all pending reprints and was issuing refunds on all returned books bought since its publication in September.

Scholars in The New Republic said the story could not be true as it would have been impossible to throw food over the fence at the camp at Schlieben, Germany, where Rosenblat was held as a teenager, putting pressure on the Rosenblats to explain.

Under public scrutiny, Rosenblat’s agent Andrea Hurst said the writer had revealed to her that he invented the crux of the love story although his story about being in the concentration camps and the survival of the writer and his brothers was true.

Polish-born Rosenblat, a retired electrical contractor from North Miami Beach, Florida, could not be contacted for comment. While both books related to the Rosenblats have now been canceled, Harris Salomon, president of Atlantic Overseas Pictures is pushing ahead with plans to make a $25 million movie about Herman, with filming to start in Hungary in March.

“The documented fact, acknowledged by his critics, is that Herman is a survivor of concentration camps. He found a way to tell his story and bring a message against hate. It is his story,” Salomon said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rosenblat’s book, “Angel at the Fence, the True Story of a Love that Survived,” is the latest in a list of memoirs found to have been fabricated.

In 2006, U.S. author James Frey admitted he made up key parts of his drug and alcohol memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

This year Misha Defonseca admitted most of her bestselling autobiography, about a young Jewish girl saved by wolves, was made up while “Love and Consequences” by a Margaret B. Jones about a mixed-raced girl growing up with U.S. gangs was recalled.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy

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