'Blogger-of-the-Year' spreads fake news about family perishing in the Holocaust

Published by carolyn on Tue, 2019-06-04 19:00

Marie Sophie Hingst holds the trophy she won after being named Female German Blogger of the Year 2017.

By Carolyn Yeager

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. False stories of relatives dying in the “gas chambers” or “ovens” of Auschwitz. Who will ever contradict them? In the case of Marie Sophie Hingst, a German woman with a doctorate in history living in Ireland, it was a part of her desire to make friends and escape her feeling of isolation living in a new country, according to a recent investigative report by the news magazine Der Spiegel.

Sophie started blogging—and pretty soon she was writing about relatives who were killed in the Holocaust. In 2017, she filled out forms provided by the website of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum located in Jerusalem for 22 of her relatives on her grandmother's side of the family. Anyone can do it. One almost can't blame Sophie because Yad Vashem makes it so easy to lie to them. It becomes a temptation for many.

A Yad Vashem spokesperson explained to Spiegel, without apology, that "often memorial sites are the only evidence of the existence of a Holocaust victim." So they don't ask for any evidence of any kind. It is assumed that the memorial pages [called Pages of Testimony] are filled out honestly. Ultimately, the person submitting the form is responsible for the content. "The process is not 100% fail-safe," he admitted.

Yad Vashem victimology display

His is an admittance that the “testimonies” at Yad Vashem are entirely unreliable, even if only for reasons of poor memory and/or confusion rather than intentional deceit. There's also the likelihood of several relatives or friends filling out forms for the same person unawares. This is very common. I once did a study of this and found several unique pages of testimony for the same person from different relatives.

Thus, 21 of Hingst's relatives were added to the Yad Vashem total of Auschwitz deaths, which made the museum happy since it is trying to get as close to the official death numbers as possible with these individual pages of testimony.

When Hingst began blogging about her relatives' lives before they met their terrible fate in Auschwitz, her readership began to take off, eventually reaching 240,000 (!) and she became well known in the blogger scene. In 2017, she was awarded the "Golden Blogger" prize as German "Blogger of the Year." She has since been stripped of that award. She also published a book called "Kunstgeschichte als Brotbelag" ("Art History as Bread topping"). The Financial Times awarded her the "Future of Europe" prize in an essay contest in which she wrote of her alleged Jewish family and compared their fate with that of the refugees who are now 'stranded' on Europe's shores.

Today, Hingst is unapologetic, no different from the majority of holocaust frauds. She said through an attorney that the texts in her blog "claimed a significant degree of artistic freedom. […] This is literature, not journalism or history," she added. She additionally claimed that she had never spread untruths based on actual biographical details [meaning what she wrote about her relatives lives was true as far as she knew, but just not their manner of death]. She admitted that she had not personally reviewed the history of the 22 people she had registered at Yad Vashem herself.

Hingst's hoax was discovered by Spiegel Online, not by Yad Vashem, by researching the municipal archives of the city of Stralsund. It was discovered her family was Protestant, not Jewish, and rather than being an inmate at Auschwitz, her grandfather was a Protestant pastor. None of her relatives were found in the Digital Collections of the International Tracing Service, the Auschwitz Memorial Archive or the Memorial Book of the Federal Archives for the Victims of the Persecution of Jews in Germany, either.

It was recently revealed that the longtime chairman of the Jewish community of Pinneberg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, Wolfgang Seibert, was revealed to have lied about his background: His foster parents were Jewish, but his biological parents weren't.

As I said, this is much more common than most folks think. People desire to get into the privileged groups. Think of presidential hopeful Elisabeth Warren and race activist Rachel Dolezal. But Holocaust fakery is way more predominant than those groups, mainly because people are hesitant to exhibit any doubt at all toward Holocaust stories. This kind of political correctness, and laws against doubt itself as in Germany, lead into this kind of fantasizing fraud and the cheapening of our national characters.


What a shame, Sophie.
Sophie´s Bad Choice.

Sophie has actually done a good thing by exposing the ease with which fake holocaust stories are spun. And, very important, how Yad Vashem's archive of victims is similarly largely invented.

The fact that, when caught, she and others don't have any remorse but think they are justified in their "creative writing" -- well, that is probably because they don't face any legal consequences. In Europe, you can be prosecuted, fined and even jailed for saying you don't believe fake holocaust tales, but if you create belief by inventing your own fake holocaust tales, there are no consequences.

This is what Sophie has done for us and we should make the most of it by discussing it from all angles. There is lots of good education that can come from this.

So thanks for your comment, Valdemir, which brought this out. Always good to hear from you.

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