(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled that a book published as a Holocaust memoir in 1997 is in fact a hoax.
The novel, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years
, is a tale of a young Jewish girl originally from Brussels, who ventured across Europe alone to escape from the Nazis and befriended a pack of wolves, even killing a Nazi as a young girl. It was translated into 18 languages and eventually made into a french film, "Survivre Avec les Loups (Surviving With the Wolves)."
After a long court battle, the author, Misha Defonseca, must now return her share of the $32.4 million she won in a copyright claim she made against the publisher, totaling $22.5 million, the remainder which will be returned from her ghost writer, Vera Lee. The claim allegedly stated that the publisher, Mt. Ivy Press was involved in "highly improper representations and activities."
The claim was reportedly made in 1998 against Mt. Ivy Press, and the company's principal Jane Daniel attempted to appeal the ruling in 2005, but was unsuccessful. During this time, Daniel apparently noticed inconsistencies in Defonseca's story.
According to the legal news website, Daniel eventually came across a document which included Defonseca's date and place of birth and her mother's maiden name, proving that she was not of Jewish origin, deeming much of her story untrue.
Daniel also allegedly found baptism records, and discovered that Defonseca's real name is Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael, and was enrolled in a Brussels school board in 1943, when her book claims she was living with a pack of wolves.
In 2010, the case was apparently reopened and this time the court sided with Daniel, stating that the publishing company "have alleged an extraordinary fraud that touched every part of Defonseca's case against them and resulted in a huge verdict."
Defonseca's defense stated that at the time she authored the so-called memoir, she was not aware the story was untrue, as her parents were kidnapped and killed by Nazis when she was a toddler, which the court noted to be true, said the legal news site.
According to reports, she first told the story at the Temple Beth Torah in Holliston, Massachusetts to a moved congregation and even lit a candle for her fictional deceased wolf-friends.