Arnon Grunberg



On the truth and its costs - Martin Droery in der Spiegel:

'The death of historian Marie Sophie Hingst, who was found lifeless in her apartment in mid-July, bothers me by day and keeps me awake at night. I find myself occupied by the same question that others are also asking in the wake of this dramatic event: Was it right and necessary to report about the young woman and her lies?

My article, which was published on June 1 in DER SPIEGEL, had a prehistory. Her lies were first noticed by a handful of researchers who came together by chance. A historian, a lawyer, an archivist and a genealogist specializing in Jewish families all independently noticed inconsistencies in the blog "Read On My Dear, Read On," written by Hingst. The group corresponded via Facebook and email, and discovered the Jewish family biographies she had written about on her blog were false, and that she had falsely registered 22 alleged Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial center in Israel, to support her claims.'


'After further research, I asked Hingst for a meeting in Dublin. The conversation, which took place in May, centered on her recently published book "Kunstgeschichte als Brotbelag," a coffee-table book depicting replicas of well-known paintings in the form of open-face sandwiches, and on her supposed Jewish family history. Her responses to my criticisms of her biographical fabrications were both focused and confident and she was rhetorically skillful in her defense. At the end of the conversation, I gave her a detailed list of questions to give her the opportunity to take more time with her answers should she so desire. But she chose not to. If Hingst had offered a public correction of her false stories during or after our conversation, the article never would have been published in the form it was. Eight days separated our conversation on May 23 from the publication of the story and they passed without any action taken on her part.'


'Hingst's lies, however, should be seen by real Holocaust survivors and their families as a mockery of the victims. Furthermore, these fabrications provide Holocaust deniers with ammunition. If -- as in the Hingst case -- some victims were invented, then perhaps many more victims were invented as well. It bothers me that this point must still be made. And it also bothers me that some comments refer obliquely to the fact that my grandmother Lilli was murdered in Auschwitz, the suggestion being that I am a bit oversensitive on this topic.'

Read the article here.

We should be careful not to humiliate perpetrators, whatever is the nature of their alleged crime. But we cannot choose to avoid reporting about frauds, because they may be vulnerable and might harm themselves.

Inventing stories about your past or the past of your family is not a frivolous pastime.

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