#2. Angel at the Fence and A Memoire of the Holocaust Years
This one's a double entry, thanks to two authors pulling the same stunt: heartfelt stories from the Holocaust. And as we're about to demonstrate in detail, there are many reasons to believe the Holocaust simply did not occur.
Ha, no. Just kidding. Seriously, don't take that out of context.
Herman Rosenblat's Angel at the Fence is a touching and inspiring memoir, we're sure. It details his time in Schlieben, a sub-camp of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp, as a 12-year-old boy. He is befriended by a local girl named Roma, who sneaks him apples and bread through the fence separating them.
Years later, in 1958, they meet on a blind date. The conversation turns to "horrific trials through which we have endured" (as it always does on dates, or at least ours, followed by an awkward silence over our salads). The couple realize that they have miraculously found each other again.
As incredible as that is, even more amazing is Misha Defonseca's tale in Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years. Another harrowing tale of a child, alone, surviving WW II in battle-ravaged Europe, Misha sets out her astonishing journey. She walks from Belgium to the Ukraine in search of her parents, who had been captured by Nazis. She stabs to death a Nazi rapist. She is taken in and protected by a pack of wolves, even sharing in their kill... all of this before she's 11-years-old.
Wait a second...
In Rosenblat's case, not everything in Angel at the Fence is complete and utter lies. He did survive Schlieben. He and Roma did meet on a blind date in New York years later. But the part about how he knew her back then, and her sneaking food to him over the fence has been questioned by historical scholars who noticed that at Schlieben, the place where she was supposedly meeting him to pass food, was right next to the SS barracks.
As for Misha, some have found the idea of a seven-year-old making a 3,000 mile trek across Nazi occupied territory subsisting on mud and raw meat while being coddled by wolves a little hard to swallow. Not us. Around these parts, we call that "Thursday."
Upon his lies being exposed to the world at large, an apparently care-free Rosenblat defended his story in Angel at the Fence with, "I wanted to bring happiness to people. I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world."
We're not completely sure how his story was supposed to make us feel better about the Holocaust. Actually, a better defense would have been, "I survived the fucking Holocaust. You shut the fuck up now." Still, the publisher cancelled the book.
As for Misha and the wolves... it took ten years for this obvious pile of deceit to be exposed. TEN. YEARS.
She first told the story at a Jewish temple on Holocaust Memorial Day. During a candle-lighting remembrance ceremony Misha asked to light a candle for the animals. The rabbi thought it was more than passing strange but allowed it and Misha's story spilled out. Everyone was very moved. She sold it to a publisher a short time later.
Eventually they discovered that "Misha Defonseca" is actually Monique De Wael and, though her parents were tragically taken by the Nazis, she never wandered across Europe and, in fact, was not Jewish. Monique's defense of this deception was, sadly, somewhat typical: It may not have been the truth, but it was her truth. In the dictionary this is known as a "lie."
Still, wouldn't it be awesome if it turned out the only part of her story that was true was the wolf thing?
#1. The Amityville Horror
Nothing makes a spooky story spookier than the addition of, "Oh my God, you guys, I totally swear that this is totally, totally true. It totally happened. Totally." William Blatty used this to great effect with his book The Exorcist (allegedly "Based on a True Story" but in fact based a half-remembered article from 1949).
In the wake of all the cash The Exorcist made, along came George and Kathy Lutz. They were a normal family who purchased a house in Amityville on Long Island, New York and 28 days later were driven from it by TOTALLY REAL YOU GUYS demonic forces.
It turns out, the year before they moved in, that house hosted a brutal murder (Ronald "Butch" Defeo, Jr. blew away his family). His lawyer attempted an insanity defense which was kind of contradicted by the fact that "Butch" had done little things like pick up the spent shell casings to thwart the crime scene investigators. This will be important later.
Anyway, the Lutzes bought the house a little over a year after the crime and, they alleged, almost immediately bad shit happened.
They told and sold their harrowing tale to writer Jay Anson, who didn't bother to show up and look at the house, but instead wrote the book based upon the 45 hours of taped stories the Lutzes sent him, which we imagine went something like: "... so, then, like, this... pass the bottle, dude... I said give it to me! Fuck!... then this... stuff... um... SLIME, yeah, that's... yeah... this slime came out of the walls... dude we need to make a booze run."
Film rights were sold, money was made... and that's when it all started going to shit.
For starters, in the book the priest they had come and bless the house allegedly heard a voice say "Get out!", felt a slap on the face and suffered stigmata-like blisters. In real life, Father Pecoraro (who was apparently not in on the scam) denied anything happened. He even claimed in an affidavit that he never went to the house, but only spoke to the Lutzes by phone.
A possible reason given for this massive infestation of malignant spirits was that the Shinnecock (seriously?) Indian tribe used the local area as a place to ditch their insane, decrepit and dying tribe members. Which would be totally awesome except for the fact that they didn't. Ever.
Remember Butch Defeo, the guy who committed all of those murders in the house that caused the haunting? Well William Weber, Butch's defense lawyer, came forward and claimed he and the Lutzes made the whole thing up over "several bottles of wine." Many lawsuits were filed, and the Lutz family continues to insist the story was "mostly true."
And really, why would they lie? Hey, did we mention that in addition to all of the book sales, NINE films have been made based on the story? And why not? It's totally true, you guys.
If you enjoyed reading about phonies you've never heard of, find out about the phonies who inspired you to never give up in 6 Inspiring Rags to Riches Stories (That Are Bullshit). Or get ready to really have your mind blown in 7 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Complete Bullshit).