Is the author of a new Oprah-touted love story the next James Frey?





On February 3, Berkley Books, the mass-market division of the Penguin Group, is slated to publish a Holocaust memoir titled Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived. The author, Herman Rosenblat, who is a retired television repairman now living in Miami, recounts his experience as a teenage boy during the Holocaust at Schlieben, a sub-division of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. In the winter of 1945, Herman meets a nine-year-old girl--herself a Jew masquerading as a Christian at a nearby farm--when she shows up one day outside the camp and tosses him an apple over the barbed-wire fence. For the next seven months, the girl at the fence delivers Herman food each day, until he is suddenly transferred to another camp. Fast forward to Coney Island, 1957: Herman, now in his 20s and settled in New York, reluctantly agrees to a blind date with a young Polish immigrant named Roma Radzicki. They speak of their time during the war. Roma mentions a boy she had helped to survive in a camp. She said she fed him apples. A flash of recognition. Months later, Herman marries Roma, his angel at the fence.

Since going public with his story a decade ago, Herman appeared twice on"The Oprah Winfrey Show", who called it"the single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air," and has been featured on the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Television, and CBS News. He has been the subject of newspaper articles and inspirational mass-email chains. In March, a feature film, Flower of the Fence, based on Herman's life, is scheduled to go into production with a budget of $25 million dollars. A children's book, Angel Girl, was published in September. Berkley Books' Angel at the Fence has all the makings to become a best-seller. Berkley's winter catalogue for booksellers and reviewers describes Angel at the Fence as"the true story of a Holocaust survivor whose prayers for hope and love were answered," noting that it makes"a perfect Valentine's Day gift."...

An increasing number of prominent Holocaust scholars say no. Though archival records show that Herman was interned in concentration camps during the war, scholars who are investigating the story believe that the central premise of his narrative--that a girl met him at the fence and that very girl became his wife--is, at the very least, an embellishment, and at worst, a wholesale fabrication...

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