Another so-called “true story” embraced by Oprah Winfrey has been exposed as a fraud.
Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), announced Saturday it has withdrawn the upcoming memoir of Angel at the Fence from Herman Rosenblat, a man who said he met his future wife at a Nazi concentration camp.
For the past two decades, Rosenblat has been on numerous talk shows, including Winfrey’s, describing how he came to know his wife, Roma Radicky. According to Rosenblat and his wife, 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 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 soon married and earlier this year celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Rosenblat’s Angel at the Fence had been scheduled to come out in February, but Berkley Books withdrew the memoir Saturday following allegations by scholars, friends and family members that his tale was untrue, reports the Associated Press.
“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.”
The Rosenblats were interviewed twice over the years by Winfrey, who has called their romance “the single greatest love story … we’ve ever told on the air.” They have inspired a children’s book and a feature film adaptation is scheduled to begin next year.
Rosenblat is indeed a Holocaust survivor and records prove that he was at the Buchenwald camp. But scholars doubted his story, noting that the layout of the sub-camp made such an encounter at the fence virtually unthinkable (They would have met right by an SS barracks). A recent article in The New Republic quoted friends and family members who were outraged by Rosenblat, so much so that one of his brothers stopped speaking to him.
James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces was a Sept. 2005 pick for Oprah’s Book Club before it was discovered the following January to be largely fabricated.