Belgian author Misha Defonseca's 1997 Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years describes how the author (pictured left) at six years old :
... trudged across three countries to try to find her Jewish parents who had been carted off to Auschwitz by the Nazis. She collapsed in a forest but was rescued by pack of wolves who adopted her as their cub.Now that does seem to me to be rather a large stretch of the imagination (whether you factor in the wolves or not) and I'm surprised at the surprise that has met the announcement just a few weeks after the premier of the film version that Defonseca invented the story!
The Belgian newspaper Le Soir blew the whistle and discovered along the way that Defonseca is not Jewish but Roman-Catholic and (get this!) has a parent who was probably a Nazi collaborator.
The 71 year old author has issued an apology:
This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving. ... I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed.She said that the story was her way of coping with a deeply unhappy childhood with an adoptive family who called her the daughter of a traitor and that she:
... found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination.Her lawyer in a letter to the newspaper said :
It matters little whether the account is real or partly allegorical, it is the product of absolute good faith, a cry of suffering and an act of courage. In that it deserves only respect.Now me, I've no problem at all with that. (I'm finding it hard to summon up any of my usual outrage at all.)
But just call it fiction, okay?
(You can read extracts from the book here. And watch the film trailer below.)
This isn't the only scandal that has dogged (wolved?) the book.