'Auschwitz Survivor' Admits It Was All a Lie Feb 15, 2019 3:22:08 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Feb 15, 2019 3:22:08 GMT -5
'Auschwitz Survivor' Admits It Was All a Lie
Joseph Hirt claimed for years he escaped Auschwitz and met Dr. Josef Mengele, Eleanor Roosevelt and track and field star Jesse Owens. Now the Pennsylvania man is admitting it was all a lie:
“I am writing today to apologize publicly for harm caused to anyone because of my inserting myself into the descriptions of life in Auschwitz,” he wrote in a letter sent to his local paper, LNP, in June 2016. “I was not a prisoner there. I did not intend to lessen or overshadow the events which truly happened there by falsely claiming to have been personally involved. I was wrong. I ask forgiveness. I determined at that moment to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of the truth about wartime life (and death) at Auschwitz.”
For years, Hirt, who was 91 when he admitted the truth, spoke publicly at schools around the US about his experiences during World War II, which included his Jewish family’s flight from Poland to Belgrade. He claimed he was arrested by the Nazis, sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and met Josef Mengele, the SS physician who allegedly tortured prisoners. He told people he escaped by crawling under a wire fence. He also added an extraordinary prologue and epilogue to his story, alleging he saw Adolf Hitler turn his back on Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and met Eleanor Roosevelt and Owens following his arrival in the United States.
Earlier this year, Andrew Reid, a New York history teacher, became suspicious of Hirt’s story and wrote a refutation of many of Hirt’s points. The names of concentration camp victims and survivors are publicly available and there is no record of Hirt at Auschwitz or elsewhere.
Hirt (showing his fake tattoo in the photo above) admitted in his letter that he tattooed the camp number of Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, the acclaimed author and chemist, on his left forearm: “In no way an attempt to take on his identity, but in an effort to incorporate his symbol as a way of remembering him.”
Reid also found that Hirt’s escape story did not fit with camp records, that Mengele did not arrive at the camp until after the alleged escape and there were other errors and far-fetched claims in Hirt’s account. For example, at the time he claimed to have seen Hitler turn his back on Owens, Hirt was a 6-year-old Polish boy and it was unlikely he would have been anywhere near Hitler at the Olympics. Additionally, according to Jesse Owens’ biographer, the “snub” was likely fabricated and possibly conflated with the story of another black sprinter.
Hirt is not the first to fabricate or exaggerate a Holocaust story. Herman Rosenblat, a Polish survivor, embellished his 1993 memoir and made up some parts entirely. At the time, historian Ken Waltzer wrote in the New Republic that he was alarmed by how quickly people accepted Rosenblat’s claims.
Source: Humans Are Free, February 14, 2019.
See also “Author of Fake Holocaust Memoir Ordered to Return $22.5m to Publisher.”