Lynda La Plante is prime suspect in memoir row
Australian reader notices 'similarities' between one of the thriller writer's novels and a harrowing account of Auschwitz from a Holocaust survivor
Sunday 07 September 2008
Lynda La Plante has murdered people in a thousand brutal ways, on the page at least. But the author of many best-selling crime novels and hit television series now faces criticism from Holocaust survivors over a novel she published in 1993 and its alleged similarities in part to a memoir by an Auschwitz survivor, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
La Plante, best known for creating the ITV series Prime Suspect, strongly denies copying from the 1947 book Five Chimneys by Olga Lengyel.
While an inmate at the Auschwitz death camp, Lengyel was forced to work as a medical aide to the notorious Nazi war criminal Dr Josef Mengele. He conducted experiments on sick prisoners, including injecting them with unknown fluids and carrying out tests on their reproductive organs. Lengyel risked her life to collect details of conditions in the camp, which were published in her memoirs after the war.
An Australian reader noticed that parts of the survivor's memoir were very similar to La Plante's 1993 novel Entwined. Its main characters are Auschwitz survivors. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that lawyers for La Plante had said a research assistant she no longer uses may have used the passages on her behalf.
Yesterday The Independent on Sunday was told by a lawyer for Olswang Solicitors, on behalf of the author: "Lynda La Plante has not read Five Chimneys. She did use a research assistant in this case but not in other books." La Plante is due in Australia next month for a publicity tour, and may face questions there from Holocaust survivors concerned about the similarities.
There was anger yesterday from British survivors who feared that, in the future, accounts of the death camps could be hijacked. "Holocaust survivors are extremely concerned that their testimony will be taken out of context, used, abused and manipulated for purposes that they have no knowledge of," said Stephen Smith of the Holocaust Centre.
"This is potentially an example of how easy it could be to use testimony purely because of its moral power, without taking into consideration the feelings of those who survived the horror of the Holocaust. Authors need to remember that the Holocaust is not their friend and that they should not treat it lightly, but approach it with the greatest of care."
OLGA LENGYEL – 'FIVE CHIMNEYS'
What conception could Dr Mengele have had of the medical work he did in the camp? His experiments, lacking scientific value, were no more than foolish playing, and all his activities were full of contradictions. I saw him take every precaution during an accouchement, watching to see that all aseptic principles were rigorously observed and that the umbilical cord was cut with care. Half an hour later he sent the mother and child to the crematory oven.
LYNDA LA PLANTE – 'ENTWINED'
Whatever concept lay behind Mengele's work in the camp, his experiments lacked any scientific value, all his actions full of contradictions. He would take every precaution during a childbirth, noting and observing that all aseptic principles were rigorously observed and that the umbilical cord was cut with care. Half an hour later mother and new-born infant would be sent to the gas chambers.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Wireless 2015: Nicki Minaj 2 hours late to main stage due to 'travel issues'
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender hints showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Amy: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' Amy Winehouse film as it scores the highest ever UK opening for a British documentary
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture