Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told... apparently a lie.

Publisher Cancels Rosenblat Memoir After TNR Exposes Hoax

Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, announced tonight that it was canceling Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, which was set to be published on February 3.

In a statement, Berkley's director of publicity, Craig Burke, said: "Berkley Books is cancelling publication of Angel at the Fence after receiving new information from Herman Rosenblat's agent, Andrea Hurst. Berkley will demand that the author and the agent return all money that they have received for this work."

Just yesterday, Berkley released a statement defending the author and his memoir. Shortly after Berkley's new statement was released, I spoke with Harris Salomon, who is producing the $25 million film adaptation of Herman's story.

"It’s unfortunate he told a lie," Salomon told me. "The man is tragically flawed, but his story had value." Until this evening, Salomon had been a wholehearted defender of Herman's story. But he said he spoke to Herman and learned that his story is a fake. Salomon said he had no knowledge of Herman's fabrication, and is angry that Herman lied to him, to his agent, Andrea Hurst, and to the publisher. "Obviously, this is a surprise to me. Obviously, I am extremely angry. He let me down professionally and personally. We get used to dealing with people of all stripes in this business. This is the business and the society we live in today, that allows people to lie, but also feeds off people lying and asking for forgiveness."

Salomon said he thinks there is only one way for Herman to bring closure to his story. He asked Herman to go back on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with his wife, Roma, and tell his true story and explain why he invented his tale. He said Herman has agreed to appear on "Oprah" if her producers will have him. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" could not be reached for comment tonight.

"This is the one thing I want Herman to do," Salomon said. "I told Herman I want him to go back on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' and apologize to Oprah. Apologize to me, to Andrea Hurst, his agent, to Penguin, the American people, and the memory of his mother and father and all the people who died in the Holocaust."

I find it somewhat sad to have learned this.

Yes, it's disappointing to have someone fabricate such a tale and then learn that it's not true.

But didn't reading or hearing the story have men and women shyly smile and let out huge sighs of wistfulness? Didn't it give countless people a belief that in spite of all the evil that these death camps represented, something good could come of them?

Didn't this internationally reported tale give something nice to people to believe in?

Yes, to falsely lead on print and radio journalists, television audiences, major publishing houses and movie companies and countless individuals is not nice. In fact, it's wrong. But did Herman have a reason for doing so? Did his wife have a reason for going along with her husband and his fairy tale?

Oprah said of Herman & Roma's tale: "...the single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air."

Holocaust scholars, Herman's family and friends were disbelieving of the tale for some time, but never did bring their thoughts to the public eye. But now that the truth is out, what will people say when they learn the reason of the deceit?

My compassionate side worries for Herman; will it be too much for him to bear to appear on national TV and retract his story, too much for him to handle the aftermath of his deceit, too difficult to go on with his life once again? How is his medical situation? How is his emotional situation?

Part of me thinks: "Who was he hurting anyway, with this story?"

But apparently, the answer is "COUNTLESS NUMBERS."