December 29 2008

Once Again, Oprah Is Fooled

oprah shockedPoor, Oprah. She just can’t pick a book, can she?

Remember when Oprah got duped by James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces?  She was steadfastly behind this book about a man’s trials with drug addiction, even making it one of her precious “Oprah’s Book Club” choices.  Then it came to light that he had made the vast majority of it up.  She had him come back on the show and chastised him for fooling her and the readers.

Think she will do the same with Herman Rosenblat?

Over the years, Mr. Rosenblat has become famous for his tale of how he met his future wife while he was at Schlieben, a sub-division of the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp.  The story goes that Mr. Rosenblat met a young Jewish girl, Roma Radzicki, who lived near the camp, but her family was posing as Christians, when she approached the fence one day.  Over the next few months she passed food to him through the fence, but they lost contact when he was moved to another camp.

Then in 1957, Mr. Rosenblat was set up on a blind date in Coney Island, NY, and he recognized the girl immediately to be the girl that passed him food years before.  They married not long after that, and have now been together for 50 years.

Ms. Winfrey has referred to as “the single greatest love story … we’ve ever told on the air.”  The problem is that it has now been revealed to be a hoax.

Due to the popularity of the story, it was due to be published as a book entitled Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love that Survived in February by Berkley Books.  The book has now been canceled and a demand has been made for Mr. Rosenblat to return his advance.  However, the $25 million dollar movie that is slated to be made of the story is still going forward as they had planned to fictionalize large portions of it.

According to Times Online, the story was revealed as a hoax by Ben Helfgott, a former Schlieben inmate, in the New Republic magazine.  He says that the story is a complete fabrication, and other experts on Schlieben have said the story was impossible because where Mr. Rosenblat says this all took place would have put him right next to the SS barracks.

Mr. Rosenblat is quoted as saying:

I wanted to bring happiness to people.  I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world.

That is all well and good, but perhaps you shouldn’t have told people it was true?  He continued to report this story to be true for years, and through two appearances on the Oprah show.  He had ample oppurtunity to tell people it was made up, and people would have probably still enjoyed it, but instead he continued the lie, and was happy to make money off of it.  That is where he sunk himself.

According to a story by the Associated Press, publishers admit they are not fact checking books because of the volume of releases each year, and it would simply cost them too much to check each one.  To that I say, “tough luck.”  Since when has checking facts become too much of a hassle?  Are publishers now saying that the truth no longer matters?  “Well, it looks sorta true… good enough.”

And what of Oprah?  Has she not learned her lesson?  Should she not be looking to check facts after that whole Frey debacle?  What is that old saying again?  “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me”?  Well, guess what, Oprah… shame on you.

This whole thing is sickening.  It plays on people’s guilt about the Holocaust, it plays to people who are desperate for stories that show love can survive anything, and it just stinks in general that someone could lie for years and feel that is perfectly okay.

share tweet share

Books General Rants TV | | | |


  • Hee Hee .. how the mighty are falling :D

  • Colby

    The Rosenblat story is so sad. Why is Atlantic Pictures making a film based on a lie? Why didn't Oprah check the story out before publicizing it, especially after James Frey and given that many bloggers like Deborah Lipstadt said in 2007 that the Rosenblat's story couldn't be true.
    Genuine love stories from the Holocaust do exist. My favorite is the one about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt – the beautiful young art student who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz to cheer them up. This painting became the reason Dina and her Mother survived Auschwitz. After the end of the war, Dina applied for an art job in Paris. Unbeknownst to Dina, her interviewer was the lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They fell in love and got married. It's such a romantic love story. Another reason I love Dina's story is the tremendous courage she had to paint the mural in the first place. Painting the mural for the children caused her to be taken to Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he made her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

    Dina's story is also verified to be true. Some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. The story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children's barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also documented.

    Why wasn't the Rosenblatt's story checked out before it was published and picked up to have the movie made?? I would like to see true and wonderful stories like Dina's be publicized, not these hoax tales that destroy credibility and trust.

  • Poor Oprah, I really admire her, she's an inspiration to many!