The Apple: Based on the Herman Rosenblat Holocaust Love Story

James Garside

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The Apple: Based on the Herman Rosenblat Holocaust Love Story

By Penelope Holt

Once upon a time, holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat wrote a love story. Boy meets girl. Boy is dying in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Girl throws Boy apples over the concentration camp fence. Boy and Girl fall in love. You know, the usual. It was a beautiful story, and one that needed to be told.

It was so beautiful that one day, Oprah, being Oprah, declared it “the greatest love story ever told”. She invited Rosenblat onto her show, and he spellbound the audience with tales of his life and claimed that he had written this story from his own experience.

Now, there was just one problem in the magical kingdom of TV land — the story wasn’t true. Oprah went on the war path. And lots of Americans, having no sense of irony, got very upset about the whole thing.

The fact that a harrowing tale of life in the concentration camps had basis in truth, despite the fictional love story, was lost on people. The possibility that a person who, having just survived the holocaust, might have very good reasons for wanting to pretty things up a bit, didn’t occur to them. And as for the idea that people have artistic freedom and the right to make of their own experiences whatever they will — well, that would be like saying that Oprah was wrong!

Rosenblat’s fiction is a lie that tells the truth. And whilst I can well understand the desire to uncover the truth behind the story, Holt’s decision to then write this ‘true account’ as a novel is baffling. ‘The Apple’…bites.

What you end up with is a badly written ‘true’ work of fiction, about a beautifully written ‘fictional’ truth. What would you prefer — an ugly truth or a beautiful lie? Read them both. Make up your own mind.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author and travel writer.

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