Publisher closes the book on phony Holocaust memoir

Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Group, has canceled the release of a Holocaust memoir after learning that the core of the story was fabricated by author Herman Rosenblat.

Along with its decision Dec. 27, the New York publisher also demanded that Rosenblat return his advance for his book, “Angel at the Fence,” which was scheduled to be released in February.

Rosenblat, 79, claimed that a woman he met on a blind date in New York 12 years after World War II and later married was the same person who, as a Jewish child in hiding during the Holocaust, disguised herself as a Christian farm girl and tossed apples to him over the fence of a sub-camp of Buchenwald.

Rosenblat and his wife, Roma Radzicki Rosenblat, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. A scholar cast doubt on the story of how the couple met, doubts that were confirmed by Rosenblat.

“I wanted to bring happiness to people, to remind them not to hate, but to love and tolerate all people,” Rosenblat wrote in a statement published in the New York Times. “I brought good feelings to a lot of people and I brought hope to many. My motivation was to make good in this world. In my dreams, Roma will always throw me an apple, but I now know it is only a dream.”

Rosenblat’s believers included Oprah Winfrey, film producers, journalists and others who ignored, or didn’t know about, warnings from scholars and skeptics that his story didn’t make sense.

In addition, Laurie Friedman’s “Angel Girl,” a children’s book based on Rosen-blat’s tale and released in the fall, has been pulled by the Lerner Publishing Group. Friedman said in a statement that the Rosenblats had reviewed her manuscript and assured her of its accuracy. “Unfortu-nately, I, like many others, am disappointed and upset to now learn of Herman’s fabrications,” Friedman said. — jta & ap