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Thread: Author who made £10m from the book about fleeing the Nazis admits she made it up

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Dec 2006

    Default Author who made £10m from the book about fleeing the Nazis admits she made it up

    The storyteller: Misha Defonseca, real name Monique De Wael

    The memoirs of a girl of eight who wandered 3,000 miles across Nazi-occupied Europe searching for her missing parents was amazing enough.

    Add in her claims of surviving two freezing winters living with a pack of wolves and you have a truly astonishing tale.

    Unfortunately the life story that earned its author £10million and was translated into 18 languages was just that. A story.

    Yesterday Misha Defonseca (real name Monique De Wael) admitted that her bestseller, Misha - A Memoir Of The Holocaust Years, was made up. Or, as she preferred to put it, "not the real reality".
    She did not live with wolves and she did not spend four years crossing Europe from Belgium to the Ukraine during World War Two. She isn't even Jewish. Scroll down for more ...
    Misha on a shopping outing with her grandmother, Marthe Coulon, who brought her up during World War II. The author had claimed she trekked across Europe living with wolves

    "I ask for forgiveness from all those who feel betrayed," she said, "but I beg them to put themselves in the shoes of a little four year old who had lost everything."
    Rather than being the daughter of Jewish parents, Misha was in fact brought up a strict Catholic.

    At the time she claimed to be skinning rabbits in the snow and stealing food from farmhouses on her way to Poland, she was actually a four year old living with her grandparents in a Brussels flat.
    The only truth in her story seems to have been the disappearance of her parents, who were deported for their membership of the Belgian resistance movement. Scroll down for more ...
    A life with wolves: Misha playing with a wolf she has helped to raise at the sanctuary near her home in Massachusetts, USA

    "That Monique, she's got some imagination!" said her 88-year-old cousin when tracked down by Belgium's Le Soir newspaper, which revealed the truth behind her tale.
    Doubts over her claims arose when animal experts questioned whether wild wolves would have treated her as a cub as she claimed.

    "My name is Monique De Wael, and since the age of four, I have wanted to forget," she told Le Soir.

    She explained that she had always wanted to distance herself from relatives who had regarded her "the daughter of a traitor".
    Misha Defonseca, aged seven in 1942

    "It's true that since the beginning I have felt Jewish and that later in life I was able to come to terms with myself by being taken in by that community."
    Her statement, released via her lawyer, continued: "So it's true that I have always recounted to myself a life, another life ...
    "That's also why I fell in love with wolves, and why I entered into their universe. It's my story. It's not the real reality, but it's my reality, my way of surviving."
    De Wael is said to have received £100,000 for the French rights to her story, published in 1997. The film, Surviving with Wolves, was a hit in Europe.
    In April 2005 the Mail also presented her claims in serialised extracts from the book.
    The money started rolling in for De Wael after she won a £10million court case that year against her American publisher for allegedly withholding royalties and not doing enough to market the book. Yesterday her lawyer, Marc Uyttendaele, 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."

    Author who made £10m from the book about fleeing the Nazis and living with wolves admits: 'I made it all up - and I'm not even Jewish' | the Daily Mail

  2. #2
    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    in the wild blue yonder


    Another whack job con artist who got lucky.

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    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Beyond Caring, then hang a left.


    You know I have mixed feelings about this - I guess the point about her being a "strict catholic" is because she claimed to be Jewish in the book? Because not only Jews went in to the camps & gas chambers.

    I agree that it should not have been marketed as a "true story" but why not tell tales like this? Human endurance is an amazing thing, a hopeful thing; and while I appreciate that the emphasis is on the "truthfulness" of the writing, at least this opens up these experiences to a new generation, to open minds and start debates.
    "I don't know what I am to them, maybe a penguin XD" - Tiny Pixie

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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    This is a marketing ploy that is used often enough. See The River God series...

    If she never claimed directly it was a true story (but left it unsaid), then I don't see a problem. Its marketing and its been done time and time again.
    There will be times you might leap before you look
    There'll be times you'll like the cover and that's precisely why you'll love the book
    Do it anyway

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    Gold Member Pippin69's Avatar
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    I'm a little confused by the article, was she at all affected by the Nazis? I think it's a little sick to profit off the holocaust if it didn't actually effect her life.

    I'm kinda surprised anyone believed it was real in the first place, it doesn't sound possible. Especially the wolves part, that would make me skeptical right off the bat.
    "Just because I walked into a turd supermarket doesn't mean I have to buy anything." - John Oliver

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    A*O is offline
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    Oct 2005
    Being Paula


    I've never heard of this book but the wolf stuff would raise a big red flag for me anyway. Another attention whore/nutter.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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