The story: Rosenblat, a retired TV repairman in Miami who lived through the Holocaust in a concentration camp, met a girl who lived on the other side of the camp's fence. She was living on a neighboring farm, pretending to be Christian. She tossed him an apple over the fence every day. Years later, in Brooklyn, a chance encounter reunited him with the girl, and they married.
Now it's going to be a book and a movie and a... wait, some people think it may not be true. Not the concentration-camp part—that happened—but the story of the apple-tossing little girl. (But he is married to a woman who says she was the apple-tosser in question.)
Luckily, the New Republic launched an investigation! It's always a bad sign when this happens after you call the book's editor after getting a flaky answer from her at her work number: "When I called Rosenstein at her home number, she screamed, "How dare you call me at my home!" and hung up."
Also, a mean old professor of Jewish studies says it's probably impossible that it happened:
Waltzer's main critique is that the book's central premise—that Roma threw Herman apples over the fence outside the Schlieben camp in the winter of 1945—is an impossibility... While, in theory, there is a slim chance Herman was able to conceal these meetings—and the apples he received—from his fellow prisoners, Waltzer concluded from studying maps of Schlieben that it was impossible for either a prisoner or civilian to approach the fence; the only spot where one could access the perimeter at all was right next to the SS barracks.
It also doesn't help that Penguin, the parent publishing company, acted totally suspicious and unprofessional about New Republic's inquiries to the book: "No one at Penguin has responded to numerous requests for comment about Angel at the Fence, nor my requests to speak with the author, nor my request to receive a review copy of the book."
I don't know. O called it "the greatest love story ever told," and it still may be! Just not true, that's all. But doesn't it give you hope anyway? Isn't that what literature is supposed to do?