“She’s both a victim and a villain. She’s both. She is both in this story.”
Evelyne Haendel, Belgian Genealogist, Holocaust Survivor
Directed by Sam Hobkinson, Misha and the Wolves is a finely produced documentary about a lifetime falsifier who named herself ‘Misha Defonseca’. The ruse began as a young child. She feigned a connection with wolves, and constructed a story about being a Holocaust survivor. She did secure a friendship with the proprietor of a wolf sanctuary, but her story of walking in the woods of World War II Germany alone except for the wolves by her side… that simply added some adventure to this story.
Defonseca’s book, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, was wildly popular, and was translated into 20 languages. A French language film of Misha’s story as a little girl, Surviving with Wolves (Survivre avec les loups), also became popular.
After decades of pretense and money-raising for herself as a Holocaust survivor, a few people became suspicious about Misha’s story. They began asking questions and seeking answers. The above mentioned Evelyne Haendel spent countless hours meticulously seeking and finding the archival information that finally ended this sham.
Hobkinson also added a much-needed coda—we learn what really happened to Defonseca’s parents.
I have viewed this film three times so far. The story is utterly fascinating, and the production quality is outstanding.
Misha and the Wolves is a Netflix film. If you don’t have Netflix, find a friend, relative, or neighbor who does!
Music by Nick Foster
(Photo courtesy of Netflix / Misha and the Wolves)