NEW YORK – A children's book inspired by a since-discredited Holocaust story has been pulled by the publisher.
Laurie Friedman's "Angel Girl," based on Herman Rosenblat's tale of meeting his future wife at a concentration camp, had been released in the fall by the Lerner Publishing Group, which is offering refunds for any returned book.
Rosenblat, 79, whose many admirers had included Oprah Winfrey, acknowledged last weekend that he didn't meet his wife during the war. His own memoir, "Angel at the Fence," scheduled for release in February, was quickly canceled by Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).
"We are dismayed to learn about Herman and Roma Rosenblat's recantation of part of their Holocaust survival story," Lerner said. "While this tragic event in world history needs to be taught to children, it is imperative that it is done so in a factual way that doesn't sacrifice veracity for emotional impact."
Friedman said in a statement that the Rosenblats had reviewed her manuscript and assured her of its accuracy.
"I wanted to find a way to share what I felt was an important and inspiring message for children," Friedman said. "My goal in writing `Angel Girl' was to communicate that even in the darkest of times, no one should give up hope.
"Unfortunately, I, like many others, am disappointed and upset to now learn of Herman's fabrications."
Herman Rosenblat, a prisoner at a sub-camp of Buchenwald in the 1940s, had charmed the world for years with his story of meeting a young girl who would throw him apples and bread from the other side of a barbed-wire fence. Rosenblat appeared twice on Winfrey's television talk show and was a popular speaker and interview subject.
But scholars doubted Rosenblat, noting that the alleged meeting area at the camp was next to the SS barracks. After numerous inconsistencies were raised recently by The New Republic, he recanted.
"To all who supported and believed in me and this story, I am sorry for all I have caused to you and every one else in the world," he said in a statement released Sunday through his agent, Andrea Hurst.
At least one Rosenblat project is still on: A feature film based on his life that is to begin filming next year. Producer Harris Salomon of Atlantic Overseas Pictures says the movie may refer to why the Rosenblats apparently "fabricated elements of their wartime love story."