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November 30, 2010

Judge rules publisher doesn’t have to pay author of fake Holocaust memoir

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Misha Defonseca poses with the young actress who played her in a French movie based on her memoir, Mathilde Goffart, and some wolves

Misha Defonseca poses with the young actress who played her in a French movie based on her memoir, Mathilde Goffart, and some wolves

After a decade of litigation, a judge has ruled that the publisher of a bestselling Holocaust memoir, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, by Misha Defonseca, which turned out to be fabricated, does not have to pay Defonseca $22.5 million previously awarded by a jury in a dispute over royalties, but does have to pay the ghost writer of the memoir $10 million, because she didn’t know anything about the fraud.

As a Boston Globe report by David Abel details,

In a decision written by Judge Gabrielle R. Wolohojian, the panel found that Jane Daniel, sole proprietor of Mt. Ivy Press in Gloucester, should not have to pay Defonseca, because the jury’s verdict was based on the false story that she was Jewish, that she survived the Holocaust as a child by roaming through Europe on foot, and that she received protection and food from a pack of wolves.

It was later learned that Defonseca, who now lives in Dudley, is not Jewish, that she was safely attending school in Brussels during the period she said she was a refugee, and that her father reportedly provided Nazis with information about the Belgian resistance movement.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives

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