In the 24 July 1998 issue of the U.S. newspaper Forward, a case of a possible Holocaust forgery was reported. The “hero” in this bizarre tale was Salomón Isacovici, a Romanian Jew who settled in Ecuador at the end of the Second World War. The account of his alleged wartime fate in Europe under German rule was published in Mexico in 1990 in the book Man of Ashes (Hombre de Cenizas). The book describes Isacovici’s life, but its core consists of many typical, well-known clichés about the camps Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Javorsno, etc., where Isacovici served or claims to have served time. What sets this book apart from the others is not so much the content but the fact that it was written by a Jew residing in Latin America, which has hardly ever happened before. The publication of the book’s English edition was delayed because, when big money was at stake, the Jesuit priest Juan Manuel Rodríguez claimed that he was actually the co-author of the book, and that this story was not Isacovici’s autobiography but a novel that he wrote all by himself on the basis of events reported by Isacovici. Isacovici himself could no longer be questioned about this, as he died in 1995.
However, in a letter shortly before his death, Isacovici claimed that he was the legitimate author of this book, and that Rodriguez had merely helped him with structure and writing issues. The English edition book was published in 1999 with Rodríguez listed as the co-author.
Rodriguez claimed that Isacovici had only completed 40 pages of his book when he joined the project. Isacovici had instructed him to put his transcript into good Spanish, which he refused to do because he was not an editor. He then borrowed the first pages and produced the first complete chapter from them that same night. When he showed the result to Isacovici, the latter agreed with the procedure. Thus, based on Isacovici’s manuscripts and oral reports, the book was completely written by Rodriguez, including the title. Rodriguez stated verbatim:
“I used my memories of the Iberian countryside as inspiration. […] When I showed the result to Salomón, he was thrilled at how much I knew about his past. This went so far that I invented passages and details, and he subsequently believed that he had really experienced it. For him, the book is an autobiography. For me, it’s a lovely novel.”
Rodriguez repeatedly referred to this book as a novel, even though this designation is not found in the book itself. Instead, it states that it is a horrific and true testimony about the German concentration camp.
This case proves how easily “Holocaust survivors” can be talked into believing that they have genuinely experienced all sorts of events, whenever they are confronted with a trusted source and when events follow typical, well-trodden paths.