Woman who MADE UP entire bestselling holocaust memoir is forced to pay back $22.5 million after her lies are revealed 17 years later … and she’s not even Jewish
Source: dailymail.co.ukA woman who invented a wild tale of survival during the holocaust has been ordered to forfeit the $22.5 million judgement she won from her publishers by a Massachusetts court.
Published in 1997, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years is about a Jewish girl from Brussels who walked across Europe by herself after her parents were seized by Nazis.
Misha Defonseca, 76, and her ghostwriter Vera Lee won $32.4 million from publisher Jane Daniel and Mt Ivy Press in a copyright registration claim in 1998 in which Daniel was found to have conducted ’highly improper representations and activities.’
Daniel appealed, but in 2005 the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the judgement.
However, during the appeal process, inconsistencies in Defonseca’s outlandish tale began to attract the suspicion of Daniel, journalists, forensic genealogists, reports the Courthouse News Service.
In her memoir, Defonseca wrote that she trekked 1,900 miles across Europe in search of her parents. She spent months living in the forest with a pack of wolves, hiding from Nazis and in one encounter, stabbed a Nazi rapist to death.
These events all occurred when she was aged between seven and 11 years old, according to the book.
Following her trial loss, Daniel set out to determine whether Defonseca’s tale was truthful.
She eventually located a document that included Defonseca’s maiden name - which in the book was Levy - and her date and place of birth.
Her real name, Daniel found, was Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael, and she was not Jewish.
During the time she was supposed to have been communing with wolves and killing Nazis, Defonseca was in actual fact enrolled in a Brussels school.
Defonseca, now living in Massachusetts, has admitted that her best-selling book was an elaborate fantasy she kept repeating, even as the book was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.
’This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,’ Defonseca said in a statement given by her lawyers to The Associated Press.
’I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a four-year-old girl who was very lost,’ the statement said.
She admitted that her parents were arrested when she was four and she was taken care of by her grandfather and uncle.
Defonseca said she was poorly treated by her adopted family, called a ’daughter of a traitor’ because of her parents’ role in the resistance, which she said led her to ’feel Jewish.’
She said there were moments when she ’found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination.’
Read the full article at: dailymail.co.uk