An Irish blogger made up various facts about her family’s suffering during the Holocaust, according to a report from the German investigative magazine Der Spiegel.
Sophie Marie Hingst began blogging several years ago about her family’s persecution and murders by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. The blog, called “Read on my dear, read on,” won Ireland’s Golden Blogger award in 2017.
On the blog, Hingst appeared to be documenting her efforts at tracing her family’s genealogy and their fates. She found that multiple family members were killed at Auschwitz, and even traveled to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, to register the names of 22 relatives who she said died during the Holocaust with their database of Holocaust victims. Hingst became a celebrated historian of the Holocaust, writing for the German paper Die Zeit and lectured about her historical odyssey in front of Jewish communities in Europe. Her blog had over 240,000 readers.
But the Der Spiegel investigation found that not only were there no pieces of evidence to suggest that any of those relatives existed, but that she was not of Jewish descent: her German family was Protestant, and the grandfather who she claimed was an Auschwitz inmate was actually a Protestant pastor.
Yad Vashem has admitted that there are few ways of fact-checking victim registrations submitted to their database.
A spokesman for the databse told a German press agency that “often memorial sites are the only evidence of the existence of a Holocaust victim.”
“The process is not 100% fail-safe,” he added.
Through a lawyer, Hingst told Der Spiegel that her blog was “literature, not journalism or history.” She said that when she started the blog, she was lonely in her life in Dublin. She hoped that the blog would make her “more interesting than other non-Jewish Germans.” She admitted that she had not reviewed the biographical data for the 22 people whose names she submitted to Yad Vashem.
Hingst’s blog has been unaccessible since the release of the Der Spiegel report.