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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK


World: Europe

Publisher withdraws Holocaust book

Binjamin Wilkomirski's book recalls a childhood in Auschwitz

The German publisher of a prize-winning book of childhood concentration camp memories has withdrawn the work from sale after doubts were raised about its authenticity.

The Suhrkamp publishing house brought out Binjamin Wilkomirski's 'Fragments' in 1995. His recollections of a childhood in Auschwitz and Majdanek were translated into more than a dozen languages and received international prizes from Jewish organisations.

Public debate about Mr Wilkomirski's true identity began last year.

"Wilkomirski is accused of not being a survivor of the Holocaust, but rather one Bruno Grosjean, born in Switzerland in 1941," Suhrkamp said.


[ image: Suhrkamp published Wilkomirski's book in 1995]
Suhrkamp published Wilkomirski's book in 1995
An independent historian has been commissioned by Mr Wilkomirski's Swiss agents to determine his real identity.

Suhrkamp has said it will decide whether to resume distribution of 'Fragments' once the historian's report has been examined.

Swiss journalist Daniel Ganzfried interviewed Mr Wilkomirski and wrote in 1998 that he was unsatisfied with his explanation of his origins.

"Wilkomirski appears as a disciple of a school of therapy [which] treats people without secure identities by bringing to light fragments of memory, adding facts and locations which fit.

"The patient thereby regains his life story, including his identity," Ganzfried wrote in the Swiss paper 'Weltwoche'.

He said the author believed anti-Semitic Swiss officials and his adoptive parents had tried to obscure his Jewish identity when he came to Switzerland as a child.

But Mr Wilkomirski had tried to restrict access to documents concerning his birth and identity, Mr Ganzfried wrote.

"His book could be treated as a novel. It does not do away with the need for historical rigour," he added.

Mr Wilkomirski's UK publishers, Picador, told BBC News Online that they too would wait to see the historian's report before making any decision on the future of the book.



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Internet Links


Suhrkamp publishing house (in German)

Daniel Ganzfried's 'Weltwoche' article (in German)

Picador


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