Saturday, March 1, 2008

What do you mean it's not true?!?

A story this week by Melissa Trujillo of the Associated Press detailed the crumbling facade of one Misha Defonseca, author of the international best-seller "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years." In the book, Defonseca, a Belgian now living in Massachusetts, related her story of becoming a virtual orphan when the Nazis seized her parents, leaving her, as a child, to wander nearly 2,000 miles across Europe in search of them. Along the way, Defonseca said she was trapped in the Jewish Warsaw ghetto, had to kill a German soldier in self-defense and was taken in by a kindly pack of wolves who looked out for her. Yes, wolves. Turns out, there was no pack of wolves, just a pack of lies. Finally, after the tale was translated into 18 languages and made into a movie in France, an American genealogical researcher dug up the truth about Defonseca, who isn't even Jewish. Turns out Defonseca's parents were Belgian resistance fighters who were arrested and killed by the Nazis, at which point Defonseca, whose real name is Monique De Wael, was adopted by relatives. Not quite as exciting as hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier. Defonseca had this to say about being outed as a liar: "This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality." Not actually reality. I don't know what that means in Belgian, but in English, we call it bull@#*%. The really amazing thing in all this is that as the story was being published again and again, apparently not a single editor or publisher looked at the tale and thought, "Maybe we should check this out." The whole "dancing with wolves" thing might have been a tipoff.



Blogger Bob said...

Let's not discount a story simply because it has a Romulus and Remus meets Mater Lupine angle to it. Animal/Human symbiosis in the wild is more common than most people believe. One can start with the famous case of Amala and Kamala in India... who were raised for a considerable period of time by wolves. Even as late as the early 90's (1991), you see the case of John Ssebunya, the monkey boy of uganda, who lived amongst green African vervet monkeys.

So, the "dancing with wolves" part wouldn't be a tipoff... well, no, it would have been... it still sounds ridiculous.

March 2, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

When I was a kid in Claysville, I tried to move in with a family of African vervet monkeys. They paid my parents to take me back.

March 2, 2008 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

By the way, I enjoyed your comment, Bob. Thanks for joining in.

March 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With our current economy, even the wolves will have a hard time gettin' by...

March 2, 2008 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

One more example of sacrificing truth on the altar of self-aggrandizement. Truth is becoming a less and less valued commodity.

March 3, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

People believe what they want to believe.
Nazi's were evil and killed people. Thus, her story had to be true.
It's kind of like saying we have 400 million uninsured children – not really, but you get the point - in the U.S. Who would be against insuring children? Why bother to research the number. It sounds alarming enough, therefore it is believed without actually looking it up.

March 3, 2008 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Park Burroughs said...

This brings to mind Jerzy Kozinski's 1965 book, "The Painted Bird." This author must have gotten the idea for her book from him. And she seems to have run into the same kind of trouble.
Kozinski did indeed wander as a child alone through Nazi Europe, but a lot of what he wrote in "The Painted Bird" was imaginary or never happened to him. His book was a brilliant piece of prose; his mistake was not calling it a novel.

March 6, 2008 at 11:21 AM  

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