In 1997, an unbelievable story turned out to be a complete hit worldwide. But after a bitter quarrel with the publisher on her memoir, there were claims which were investigated by another Holocaust survivor and the truths were shocking.
Sam Hobkinson, director of the new Netflix documentary, “Misha and the Wolves” was instantly interested in Misha Defonsca’s tale and the layers of a narrative story surrounding it which looks hard to believe for someone’s gain.
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Joni Soffron, co-founder of a wolf sanctuary in Ipswich, Massachusetts, when she heard the story of Misha Defonseca’s tale of finding protection with a pack of wolves while walking through Nazi Germany for her parents who were deported.
She observed Misha’s affection for animals at her sanctuary which created a bond for their friendship. In this documentary “Misha and the Wolves,” the way the situations are played well is fascinating and sometimes it’s irritating too.
You can see the trailer here to get a glimpse of the documentary:-
Castings of the film:-
- Misha Defonseca – Self
- Candy O’ Terry – Self
About the documentary:
Misha Defonseca or Monique De Wael, A Belgian woman’s story of trekking through the wilderness as a child of the holocaust in search of her parents who were deported in Germany.
The Netflix documentary, “Misha and the Wolves”, reveals the truth of her childhood which is far different from the book which was quite the best-selling “Misha: A Memoire of Holocaust Years” which was turned out to be a French movie in 2007 called “Survivre avec les Loups”, or “Surviving with Wolves”
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She was born in Etterbeek, Belgium in 1937, according to the documents shown in the documentary that was discovered by Belgian genealogist and Holocaust survivor Evelyne Haendel.
Defonseca told the publisher Jane Daniel and several other locals while living in the ’90s in a small town of Millis, Massachusetts that she had evaded the Nazis as a Jewish child by hiding alone in the wilderness, living off with scraps of meat with her friendly wolves.
Daniel found a bank statement in which Defonseca had written her birthplace and her mother’s maiden name and information that focuses that the story of losing her parents in the war was false.
What is the truth?
Sam Hobkinson, the director of “Misha and the Wolves” had said that six years ago he came across this matter in a small article in a British newspaper.
He also mentioned that it was about the ongoing court case in Massachusetts, when he was trailing to the end of this story, and it struck him that how we look and believe things that seem to be so true.
“Misha and the Wolves” draws the attention of the audience into the intersection webs of narration. While many of you do not believe it at first it encourages during the first hour of the film with enactments that how a little girl was struggling alone in the snowy woods, news footage of concentration camps, and Misha’s delivery speech in the previous interviews as archive footage that twisted everything.
Gradually the documentary takes a turn into a traditional investigation as genealogists and wolf experts and Holocaust historians putting different pieces together to attempt that what is the actual truth in Misha’s tale.
Nobody was daring to question Misha’s story into questions as counter, or doubting the living experience of a Holocaust survivor especially when the story she struck with a powerful chord.
Misha wrote a book named “Surviving with Wolves” in 1997 by a small local publisher. The sales were initially slow but when Oprah Winfrey shows her interest in this through her show and her Book Club.
The book was translated into several languages and the French director Vera Belmont had directed it into a film in 2007 which was mentioned earlier.
Misha was in a constant presence in the media like film festivals, talk shows, and conferences.
It explains that the journalist obtained documents that proved Robert De Wael had secretly fought in the resistance in Belgium but he was captured
and jailed by the Nazis with his wife.
According to the documentary, he bargained for the safety of his wife and daughter in exchange for the names of his fellow resistance fighters but he was claimed as a traitor and young Misha, was also branded a traitor’s daughter.
The documentary was released proving her story to be a hoax.
About the Film
The film doubles the tension by reporting the tracing of a trail of genealogists, and other self-appointed detectives as they sniff out the facts. He reveals critical facts at the same pace as it was uncovered at the same time leading into natural suspense that Misha would invent.
He said that he wanted to unfold the untruths of this story. He wanted the film-making to reflect with cleverness and sought out devices that can affect that.
He just does it with the help of some investigators who are self-appointed who searched file cabinets and library shelves for searching the proof of Defonseca’s claims or proof of their falsehood.
It now acts as a less factual tribute to her memory, she died of lung cancer a few months after recording some segments in the film having shown Hobkinson how a journalist is determined to find out the truth.
Jane Daniel, who got the ball rolling, shares her experience of encountering her story. Her publishing operations were small but her wolf pack had made it to the top.
Daniel doesn’t seem reliable and Hobkinson making her a villain or a victim. But the choices were going in misdirection.
The painstaking work and the sentimental enactments maybe not be visually impressive, but the detective work takes the story a different turn as the individuals have crossed the facts of the truth.
What Do We Learn? What have We Understood?
As we are going along, I have thought a lot that the Holocaust narratives have created so many hoaxes. I hope this comes through the film what Misha has created in her story and what is the actual truth.
The way she tells it through her own experiences as a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust was difficult to question. The only thing that protected her from the place of authority in which way she was telling it was hard to question it.
The internet is a super-highway of information and anyone can look up anything, libraries available to all.
These all are essential points, but they came late in the film as they are an afterthought.
Unfortunately, gaps in Defonseca’s story between Belgium and Millis cause the ending to arrive with parts of her story missing which is frustrating.
“ Misha and the Wolves” streaming on Netflix.