A Belgian writer has admitted that she made up her bestselling "memoir" depicting how, as a Jewish child, she lived with a pack of wolves in the woods during the Holocaust, her lawyers said Friday.
Misha Defonseca's 1997 book, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.
Her two Brussels-based lawyers, siblings Nathalie and Marc Uyttendaele, said the author acknowledged her story was not autobiographical and that she did not trek 1,900 miles as a child across Europe with a pack of wolves in search of her deported parents during World War II. Nor is she Jewish.
"This story is mine. It is not actually reality but my reality, my way of surviving," Defonseca said in a statement released by the lawyers. "I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed."
Defonseca, 71, now lives in Dudley, Mass. Her husband, Maurice, told the Boston Globe on Thursday that she would not comment. In the statement, Defonseca said her real name is Monique De Wael and that she never fled her home in Brussels during the war to find her parents. She said they were arrested and killed by Nazis as Belgian resistance fighters.
Pressure on the author to defend the accuracy of her book had grown in recent weeks after the release of evidence found by a genealogical researcher.