Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree

Until I end my ink-on-the-fingers daily newspaper subscription in favor of purely online news (save Sunday, which calls for feet on ottoman, cat asleep on ankles, chocolate chip bagel from Einstein’s and hours spent perusing), my morning ritual is to scan page one while coffee percolates. An AP piece made the front page of my Denver daily.

A girl tossed an apple a day to a prisoner of Nazis. Years after the war, they met again.

In the few paragraphs I skimmed, a story unfolded of a teenage boy held in a concentration camp in Nazi-controlled Germany. A somewhat younger girl, living outside the camp with family, hiding true identities, would throw an apple to him each day over the barb-wire fence. This went on for months. They never spoke, only said quick goodbyes, but would meet again.

Just aches Spielberg project with Dakota Fanning in the lead, yes?

I pulled the section and set it aside to finish the article later, but the gist stayed with me through a full work day, hour of spinning and late dinner. That apple. That simple act. How often does someone throw you an apple over the fence? How often do you throw first? When Molly Ringwald’s Claire asked basket case Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), “What do your parents do to you?” and she replied “They ignore me,” she got an apple. The apple analogy I couldn’t shake all day.

After dinner, I returned to the story to flesh out details. I believed the tale would find that teenage boy and somewhat younger girl connecting years later, perhaps found online or via archives, now cherished friends bound by a story of survival and human kindness. Turns out that boy meet up with that girl a decade later and a continent away, on a blind date no less. Neither realized they’d meet before. During casual dinner conversation it was revealed.

She spoke of a boy she would visit, of the apples she would bring, how he was sent away. And then, the words that would change their lives forever: "That was me," he said.

Marriage was proposed that night. Two months later she accepted. Herman and Roma Rosenblat have been married 50 years and their story has inspired a children's book and film plans (hope Fanning hasn’t budded into wondrous female adulthood just yet).

It all seems too remarkable to be believed. Rosenblat insists it is all true.

I want to believe it’s 100%, solidly, love is a many splendored thing true. Epic, sometimes seemingly unbelievable stories are often born as quiet folklore to soften hard blows and allow us to believe good endures under the shroud of bad.

Michael Berenbaum, Holocaust scholar, has read Rosenblatt's memoir and sees no reason to question it; "I wasn't born then so I can't say I was an eyewitness. But it's credible. Crazier things have happened."

I guess.

And you know, true or imagined or embellished by time, the apple analogy I couldn’t shake all day.

6 comments:

Lisa said...

Wow, what a story! Does make you wonder if one of them is lying...

But it's still a cool story.

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

Great story. We all get the apple sometime.

JodieKash said...

...and sometimes, sadly, just the core ;(

Miz UV said...

Lovely story.

Don said...

I believe it. Coincidences even stranger happen. That they met, however, is not so strange as that they were so compatible, fifty years of marriage couldn't drive them apart.

Tracy said...

This hoax is a tragedy. The Rosenblats have hurt Jews all over and given support to those who deny the holocaust. I don't understand why Atlantic Pictures is still proceeding to make a film based on a lie. I also don't understand how Oprah could have publicized this story, especially after James Frey and given that many bloggers like Deborah Lipstadt said in 2007 that the Rosenblat's story couldn't be true.
There are so many other worthwhile projects based on genuine love stories from the Holocaust. My favorite is the one about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt - the beautiful young art student who painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on the children's barracks at Auschwitz. This painting became the reason Dina and her Mother survived Auschwitz. After the end of the war, Dina applied for an art job in Paris. Unbeknownst to Dina, her interviewer was the lead animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They fell in love and got married. Now that's a romantic love story! I also admire Dina for her tremendous courage to paint the mural in the first place. Painting the mural for the children caused her to be taken to Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but bravely she stood up to Mengele and he made her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

Also, Dina's story has been verified as true. Some of the paintings she did for Mengele in Auschwitz survived the war and are at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. The story of her painting the mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the children's barrack has been corroborated by many other Auschwitz prisoners, and of course her love and marriage to the animator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney movie after the war in Paris is also documented.

Why wasn't the Rosenblatt's story checked out before it was published and picked up to have the movie made?? I would like to see true and wonderful stories like Dina's be publicized, not these hoax tales that destroy credibility and trust.

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