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Misha Defonseca, 76, has been ordered by Judge Marc Kantrowitz to pay $22.5 million to the publisher of her best-selling 1997 book Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years after it was revealed that she had fabricated the events she wrote about.
It was revealed that she had fabricated the book in 2008 when researchers could not find evidence of her family in archives from the Holocaust. It was revealed, in fact, that she’s not even Jewish and she was born Monica Ernestine Josephine De Wael.
"This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving," Defonseca said at the time she was exposed, Fox News reports.
In the book, the Belgium-born Massachusetts resident said she had been forced to fend for herself between the ages of 7 and 11 after her parents were arrested by the Nazis, even living with wolves at one point. It was revealed that her parents were arrested for belonging to the anti-Nazi resistance. She attended a Brussels school during World War II.
She said her parents’ arrest and struggles with relatives who she stayed with made her “feel Jewish.”
New York Post reports the memoir was made into a film in France and translated into 18 languages. The reason researchers fact checked her work in the first place was because of a $32.4 million judgment she and ghost writer Vera Lee won against the book’s publisher for allegedly hiding book sales.
Mt. Ivy Press founder Jane Daniel, as well as journalists and forensic genealogists then discovered the entire story was fabricated. Since her cut of that civil suit was $22.5 million, that’s the amount she’s been ordered to pay Daniel.