A magazine's competition announcement for a fake Holocaust memoir is hammered by readers who seem to feel that those now-discredited authors of published - and very fake - memoirs, should be treated with the same sensitivity as the millions who perished. The commenters felt that mocking the fakers mocks those memories.
When I first read about it at JTA, I really wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry, but I checked out Heeb magazine's postings.
Remember that the hoaxers cheated not only the public - who wanted to believe - but publishers who didn't check things out.
The announcement of the magazine's contest starts:
To be sure, false Holocaust memoirs are hardly a recent phenomenon (Next time, Art Spiegelman, do a little research—there was no concentration camp called "Mauschwitz."). But in recent years, they seem to have become both more common and more crappy. It’s no longer enough to simply say you were in a concentration camp, like Fauxlocaust survivor Benjamin Wilkomirski. No, now you need to have been led across Europe by wolves, or have a chance encounter years later that results in your marriage to the hidden Jewish girl who saved you. Bad enough that these assorted frauds and lunatics should spew this nonsense, but do they have to do such a bad job of it? Have they no shame?After receiving numerous indignant comments as to the insensitivity of the competition, Heeb's humor editor countered with this:
The answer, of course, is that they don’t. And so while the rest of the world may turn away or offer the occasional book deal, we cannot remain silent (much less offer a book deal). What we can — no, must — do, is confront this dangerous trend the only way we know how — with a self-aggrandizing and somewhat offensive publicity stunt.
And thus, we unveil the Heeb Magazine Fake Holocaust Memoir Competition. Simply write a fake Holocaust Memoir recounting your tale of Holocaust survival, get it to us by April 1, and let us do the rest ...
... Now, I can understand why people would be upset if we were holding a competition that mocked Holocaust memoirs. But — and the competition rules make this pretty explicit to anyone with 3rd grade reading skills and a 10th grade sense of humor — we are making fun of fake Holocaust memoirs. So will somebody please explain to me why this would be so offensive? Did your grandfather survive the fake Holocaust? Did your fake family members perish in fake concentration camps? Were you inspired as a child by stories of fake bravery in the fake ghetto uprising? Perhaps the haters aren’t really haters — maybe they’re just faking it?He asks how the contest jeopardizes the Jewish people and how the memory of millions of murdered Jews will be lessened by ridiculing the frauds who did write fake memoirs. The Holocaust is part of history and we should remember what happened, he writes, adding that remembering is not the same as reverence.
If somebody wrote a memoir saying that on D-Day, he had invaded Normandy on the back of a dolphin, people would think he was a lunatic. But Misha Defonseca writes deranged nonsense about traveling halfway across Europe with a pack of wolves to find her parents in the Warsaw Ghetto, and it’s translated into 18 languages. And she wasn’t able to do this because of Heeb Magazine going too far with its "irreverence"; she was able to do this because of all the people out there who — well intentioned as they may be (and I’m certainly more generous to them than they are to me) — are so monomaniacal that as soon as they hear the word "Holocaust" immediately shut off those parts of their brain that function critically, and begin to emotionally genuflect.Read the complete pieces at the links above, and peruse the reader comments. The contest rules (scroll down on this page) sound like Chris Dunham of The Genealogue had a hand in writing them. (see rules 4, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 15).
What do you think?
And, if you are planning to enter the contest, the deadline is April 1, which seems a good day for something like this.