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Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments Book Report Essay

Fragments, a short Holocaust memoir, was published in Germany in 1995. Binjamin Wilkomirski, the author who is also a Swiss musician, claimed that he was a Holocaust survivor. He described the book as a memoir of his early childhood experience in concentration camps. The book became very popular and was soon translated into nine languages. After three years, it was published, and the public began to question the authenticity of the book. They found that Binjamin Wikomirski was a liar, and that he developed his fiction story on purpose.

Stefan Maechler, a Swiss historian, proved that the book was fiction by examining specific details in his book that shows why it was considered fiction. Since that time, critics began to argue that Fragments has literary value. However, I would argue that the authenticity of the book matters, therefore, Wilkomirski’s lying undercuts the value of the book and it prevents the readers from knowing the real history of the Holocaust. As we all know, Wilkomirski’s story was fake and the experiences that he talked about in the book were questioned.

We might still think he knows some facts about the Holocaust, but Stefan Maechler denied this assumption. “Meacher was given unrestricted access to hundreds of government and personal documents, interviewed eyewitnesses and family members in seven countries, and discovered facts that completely refute Wilkomirski’s book” (Cover page) It is obvious that Meachler has more trustworthy information and updated sources than Wilkomirski does. Therefore, we could make the statement that Wilkomirski’s book is doubtable, and confuses the reader because it conflicts with the real history of Holocaust.

There are a variety of aspects to indicate that Wilkomirski didn’t have enough research about the real history of the Holocaust. “Wilkomirski has conducted virtually no serious research into his past in Switzerland— which is indeed amazing in light of his claim of an exchange of children on Swiss soil” (*author’s last name267). Everyone has a rough sense of what happened during the Holocaust. From a normal reader’s perspective, the most interesting parts of the book are the details of life and mental activity of the survivor during the Holocaust period.

However, Wilkomirski didn’t give us reliable facts, and he does not even have basic research, which hurts the reader’s feelings significantly and lowers the value of the book. Wilkomirski’s lying was another important reason that the value of the book is undercut. He wanted to appear to the public that he was a real Holocaust survivor, and he tried to hide the life that he had. “He lived—presumably down to the most intimate parts of his private life— the life of the person whose biography he has described. (282)

His appearance was especially convincing and successful before he was discovered as a liar. If Maechler didn’t doubt his book, Wilkomirski would never have admitted that his memoir was fake. His action made me very angry, because he had become famous after the book was published and got the benefit for being a Holocaust survivor. The behavior of Wilkomirski’s fake performance was truly disrespectful to the real Holocaust survivors, and the readers of his book. Wiljomirstk had been living comfortably as a normal child, and he was taken care of by his adoptive parents.

His own personal story was not as interesting as the story of a Holocaust-survivor child, which he was pretending to be. He completely knew what the media wanted, which was a indistinguishable Jewish childsurvivor’s memoir that would be successful in the Western world. “Wilkomirski’s case has raised intriguing questions of identity based on authentic or inauthentic memory in current Western culture where authority is easily granted to claims of identity on the basis of memories of persecution or extreme adversity”(Barnouw) His book Fragments’s success was based on is character identity.

He was trying to prove that he was a real survivor, because he knew the importance of identity. However, once Wikomirski lost the identity, his book’s value was limited. The Holocaust is a solemn tragedy in our human history because six million Jews were killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. Even when Wikomirski wrote the book, he didn’t have enough research on the real history; the readers’ doubted the significant facts of his book. Wikomirski’s fake fiction story.

He just wanted to personally profit from being a Holocaust survivor, which is why he still claimed that he was survivor even everyone knew that he was a liar. Fragments has no literary value, because as a personal memoir the most important trait is its authenticity. We can easily access Holocaust information, however, the most attractive part of Holocaust history for readers is the survivor’s mental activities and the sense of pressure during the historical event. Unfortunately, Mr. Wikomirski could not prove to us those details, which undercuts the value of the book.

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