Fake Holocaust memoir’s author ordered to pay publisher $22.5 million

The cover of Misha Defonseca's fake Holocaust memoir. Credit: Amazon.

(JNS.org) The author of a Holocaust memoir now proven to be fake was ordered to pay back $22.5 million to the publisher from whom she had won a judgment.

Twenty years ago, Misha Defonseca penned "Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years," which detailed how her parents were deported by Nazis when she was 6 years old, as well as her subsequent journey across Belgium, Germany, and Poland to find them. The book described how she survived by clinging to a pack of wolves.

Defonseca and her ghostwriter, Vera Lee, in 1998 won $32.4 million in a lawsuit against U.S. publisher Mt. Ivy Press and its founder, Jane Daniel, who allegedly hid profits from book sales. Subsequently, as part of the appeal of that verdict, documents were discovered revealing that during the time Defonseca claimed to be living with wolves, she was actually "enrolled in a Brussels school in 1943," reported Courthouse News. Moreover, Defonseca's original name was Monique De Wael, and she is not Jewish.

The author, now a Massachusetts resident, eventually admitted her story was fabricated. "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.

Judge Marc Kantrowitz ruled April 29 that Defonseca must pay back her publisher for the money she was awarded in the 1998 lawsuit.

Posted on May 12, 2014 .