NPR Alert: More on the Oprah-Endorsed Fake Memoir

I was on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” this afternoon speaking about my recent New Republic pieces on the now debunked memoir, Angel at the Fence. You can listen to the interview here.


5 responses to “NPR Alert: More on the Oprah-Endorsed Fake Memoir

  1. Gabe,

    Are you ever going to dish about how the story came to you — before you had ever even heard about the book or Herman or the backstory hoax or Ben Helfgott or Ken Waltzer — all wrapped up in a barrage of strange emails and midnight phone calls from some cockamamie citizen journalist/blogger in Taiwan who pestered, cajoled and badgered you for three days (and nights) until you finally understood that this invisible nobody on an invisible nowhere island had the goods on Herman and could lead you to the Ph.D. people who really had done the major homework?

    Just kidding.

    Seriously. Heard the NPR interview. Nice. You did great reporting on the story, and you deserve a Pulitzer for all of it. You went where no one was able to go before, not even the PHD people working on uncovering the hoax could get the quotes you got, and I was in complete awe of your reportage. And still am.

    But jeez, at least thank the guy who brought the news to your apartment door and would not leave until you got off your tuches……

    Okay, I accept. Thank you note received.


  2. Great video segment at CNN. Saw it here in Taiwan, too. So that’s what
    you look like, I didn’t know. Nice interview, good explanations.
    Amazing how this story had such long, long legs…..

    I liked Tom Foreman’s intro:

    “…and we are talking with Gabriel Sherman of the New Republic who
    blew the lid off this Pandora’s Box of a Holocaust lie…..:”

    Good way to put it. :Blew the lid of this Pandora’s Box…”

    So true. AND it WAS a Pandora’s Box, YOU blew the lid off! Bravo.

    And like I keep telling everyone, I hope the Pulitzer Prize committee
    pays attention to your two part series. It was some of the best
    reporting of 2008.

    Have a Happy 2009, Gabe, and more power to you!

    — Danny

  3. CODA

    There were MANY people invokved in uncovering this hoax, we now learn. Something the MSM has not reported yet.

    TO WIT:

    For years Herman Rosenblat’s backstory which was to become a book titled “The Angel at the Fence” was regarded as non-fiction, but due to Identifinder’s thorough research, Rosenblat admits his story is fiction. Rosenblat’s publisher has since cancelled the deal.

    Misha Defonseca was not saved by “wolves”, nor was Herman Rosenblat saved by “love apples”.

    Their successes at defrauding the public with their stories of Holocaust survival have been derailed by Identifinders forensic genealogists Sharon Sergeant and Colleen Fitzpatrick. They worked with distinguished members of the Jewish community to expose Herman Rosenblat’s fraudulent Holocaust memoire. The result was a careful reconstruction of the true story.

    In a world built on information technology, the key to Identifinders’ success was using team building and technology to derive meaningful information from those facts.

    Even though there had been an outcry from Holocaust survivors that Herman’s story was historically inaccurate and defied their own experiences in the camps, the publisher Berkley Penguin Press initially defended the work based on the idea that no one can argue with someone else’s memory. In spite of its subjective nature, however, memory can be tested to see if it is anchored in reality. Herman’s experiences during his life in the camps did not occur in a vacuum. By the time that Herman Rosenblat publicly admitted that his love story Angel at the Fence was a fabrication, he was doing damage control.

    By building the context based on what could be documented, we separated fact from fiction. We created a timeline for both Herman’s family the Rosenblats and Roma’s paternal and maternal families the Radzickis (changed to Rogers) and the Zalctregers.

    Aside from his historical inaccuracies, Identifinders found for example that Herman’s chronology was not as he stated. Clues from people who had been in the camps with Herman led us to Dr. Ken Waltzer, Professor of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University. Dr. Waltzer is an expert on the youth who survived Buchenwald and provided Herman’s actual history in that camp as opposed to what Herman represented. Waltzer also expanded the team to assemble objective proof that the circumstances at Schlieben did not support Herman’s story.

    Identifinders meanwhile focused on obtaining evidence on the location of Roma Radzicki Rosenblat’s extended family during the Holocaust. The inconsistencies of Roma’s part of the story were just as significant but not as prominent.

    Most of the Radzickis and the Zalctregers perished in the Holocaust. But a few of Roma’s immediate family survived and emigrated first to Israel, then to the United States. Identifinders traced her remaining extended family to the present day. The clues from the surviving relatives converged on the fact that Roma was nowhere near Schlieben.

    None of this would have been possible had Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, Professor at Emory University, not raised a red flag last year on her blog about the truth of Herman’s story. Danny Bloom, an author of children’s books in Taiwan, read Dr. Lipstadt’s comments and took up the challenge after Angel Girl, the children’s version, came out in September. He was instrumental in convincing the media that the story needed attention. He also contacted Identifinders knowing we had exposed Misha Defonseca. Peter Kubichek, a concentration camp survivor and author, provided coherent background information that was valuable in understanding how concentration camp survivors viewed Herman’s story.

    This is just one example of how Forensic Genealogy has become an interdisciplinary approach for discovering the truth behind frauds, as well as for locating DNA references, finding missing persons, determining identity, and provenance.

    — Colleen Fitzpatrick

  4. im proud to be an american because at least im know im free!

  5. soda pop. soda pop. 123.

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