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Disputed Holocaust memoir canceled

December 28, 2008|Associated Press

NEW YORK — The publisher of a disputed Holocaust memoir has canceled the book, adding the name Herman Rosenblat to an increasingly long list of literary scandals.

"I wanted to bring happiness to people," Rosenblat said in a statement issued Saturday through his agent, Andrea Hurst. "I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world."

Rosenblat's story had been embraced by Oprah Winfrey, who had interviewed him and his wife twice. "Angel at the Fence" had been scheduled to come out in February, but Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, withdrew the memoir after allegations by scholars and Rosenblat's friends and relatives that his tale was untrue.

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

Days earlier, Berkley had offered a qualified defense of the book, saying it was a work of memory, a story whose truth was known only to the author.

Hurst declined to offer details of Rosenblat's book deal, but said in an interview Saturday that the amount of money was "not a great deal." She said rights also had been sold to publishers in other countries.

Rosenblat, 79, of the Miami area, was virtually unknown until the 1990s when he began speaking of how he came to know his wife, Roma Radzicky. According to the couple, he was a prisoner at a sub-camp of Buchenwald in Nazi Germany and she was a young Jewish girl whose family was pretending to be Christian and lived nearby.

For months, they said, they would meet on opposite sides of a barbed-wire fence, where she would sneak him apples and bread. Rosenblat was then transferred to another camp and the two lost touch, until the 1950s, when they were reunited by accident -- on a blind date -- in New York, they said. This year they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

The film's producer, Harris Salomon of Atlantic Overseas Pictures, has vehemently defended Rosenblat and said in a statement Saturday that the production would continue.

Salomon said the movie might address why the Rosenblats apparently "fabricated elements of their wartime love story."

Unlike some recent discredited Holocaust memoirists, Rosenblat is indeed a survivor, and records prove that he was at the Buchenwald camp.

"All of the story about Herman in the concentration camps and the love and survival of him and his brothers, he states is true," Hurst said in a statement.

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