Eye Witnesses

Author of fake Holocaust memoir ordered to repay publisher £13.3 million 



An author who admitted that her best selling ‘Holocaust memoir’ was a work of fiction has been ordered to repay her publishers the entire $22.5 million (£13.3 million) proceeds.

Misha: A Memoir Of The Holocaust Years by Misha Defonseca was published by Mount Ivy Press in 1997, and although not a best-seller in the US, was a huge success in France and Italy, with a Belgian film based on the book entitled Survivre avec des Loups opening in 2007.

After poor sales in the US, Defonseca and her ghostwriter Vera Lee sued publisher Jane Daniel and Mount Ivy Press for failing to sufficiently market the book and for failing to give the co-authors a proper share of the overseas royalties. A judge ordered the publishers to pay Defonseca $22.5 million and Lee $11 million.

Since the legal battle, Defonseca has publicly admitted that the story is false, with her real name Monique de Wael. Her Roman Catholic parents were deported to camps by the Nazis, but for being members of the resistance and not for being Jewish, and young Monique had been adopted by another family.

The book tells the story of a young Jewish girl aged between seven and 11, who walked 1,900 miles across Europe in search of her parents, living with a pack of wolves, and killing an Nazi rapist en route.