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Author to repay $22m over Holocaust fraud
Author to repay $22m over Holocaust fraud

A court in the US has ordered an author to repay her publishers $22.5m because her book on surviving the Holocaust was discovered to be a hoax.

Misha Defonseca, 76, wrote about a young Jewish girl on the run during World War II in her book Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years.

The book, published in 1997, told the story of her trek across Europe after her parents were seized by the Nazis and included her living with a pack of wolves.

Britain's Daily Mail reports that Defonseca, 76, and her ghostwriter Vera Lee won $32.4 million from publisher Jane Daniel and Mt Ivy Press in a copyright registration claim in 1998 in which Daniel was found to have conducted "highly improper representations and activities".

Misha Defonseca reads a statement to the judge as her lawyer Frank J. Frisoli Jr., right, and attorney for Jane Daniel, Joseph M. Orlando look on. Photo: AP

The publisher appealed and the original judgement was upheld in 2005 but that process unearthed inconsistencies in the story, the Times of Israel reports.

The publisher began further investigations and discovered that Defonseca’s real name was Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael and that she had spent the war enrolled in a Belgian school, not in the European wilderness.

And it emerged that Defonseca was not Jewish.

Defonseca eventually admitted that her memoir was a fake, The Times of Israel reported.

“This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving,” Defonseca told The Associated Press in a statement.

Book Publisher Jane Daniel. Photo: AP

“I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed."

She was found guilty of fraud in 2012. She appealed and lost and was then ordered to return her $22.5 million share from her previous court case.

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