BERLIN – A German poet and anti-Israel activist has acknowledged that she fabricated her supposed service in the IDF during the First Lebanon war.
“I said I was in the IDF,” but “it was a lie,” Irena Wachendorff, 51, told The Jerusalem Post, in a telephone interview on Friday. She has termed strong pro- Israel activists “the neo-Nazi troop among the Jews,” and expressed support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
As an 18-year-old, she said, she left Germany for Israel and wanted to serve in the army, adding that she was in Israel when the IDF went into Lebanon to stop cross-border terrorist attacks, in a preliminary to the First Lebanon War, and departed Israel after six weeks. Asked why she lied, she said she was “ashamed” of her failure. Wachendorff further claims that her father is Jewish and fled to England in 1936, and her mother survived Auschwitz.The Post and Jennifer Pyka, a dogged investigative journalist in Munich, obtained evidence that contradicted Wachendorff’s alleged Jewish identity.
According to Pyka’s investigative essay, Wachendorff’s father, Raymund, served in the German Army during the Third Reich and her mother, Barbara, denies being incarcerated in Auschwitz.
Wachendorff admitted to the Post on Friday that her father was an officer in the Wehrmacht. She asserted on Facebook that her father served as an “adviser to a rabbi and a tzadik.” She could offer no proof that the former army officer performed advisory work for rabbis.
Wachendorff wrote on Facebook that her mother was “four months in Auschwitz” and has a “tattooed number on her arm.”
Wachendorff, however, told the Post that she could not recall the name of the extermination camp where her mother was imprisoned and that there is “something” on her mother’s arm, but she cannot identify whether it is a number. After Friday’s Post interview, Wachendorff closed her Facebook account on Saturday.
In a telephone interview on Saturday, Pyka told the Post that she smelled a fraudulent history almost two years ago and unraveled a string of deceptions and contradiction in Wachendorff’s Facebook assertions. In a long essay that appeared late last month on the German website Die Achse des Guten (The Axis of Good), Pyka uncovered a series of alleged half-truths and lies. Spiegel Online and the cultural website Perlentaucher cited Pyka’s expose as one of the top blog entries of the week.
Wachendorff repeatedly told the Post, “I am Jewish. I am member of a liberal Jewish community and I am not anti- Semitic.” According to Pyka’s research, there is no documentation supporting Wachendorff’s assertions that she is Jewish or a member of a German Jewish community.
Pyka sharply criticized Wachendorff for having traded on the tragedy of the Holocaust for personal and commercial gain. It is “perverse and brazen that Wachendorff presents herself as a Jew and the daughter of Holocaust survivors and engages in educational work in schools about anti-Semitism and Jewish life in the Third Reich,” she said.“Six million dead Jews serve her own publicity and at the same time she undertakes a perfidious victim-perpetrator inversion to damage Israel and all Jews,” the journalist said. Pyka summed up the growing scandal: “The entire thing is a Grusical [comic horror musical] that is made in Germany and only those who are themselves fake Jews or anti- Semites can stage and applaud the Grusical.” Ruprecht Polenz, a senior deputy in the Bundestag, vehemently defends the anti- Israel activist’s work.Polenz, the head of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed a group of Iranian lawmakers to Berlin last year. He has served as Wachendorff’s main advocate. In an email to the Post, he declined to provide specific comments on the string of alleged lies from Wachendorff. In addition to being under fire for defending Wachendorff, critics accuse the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) deputy of allowing his Facebook site to be turned into a magnet for jihadists, raging anti-Semites, haters of Israel and extremist leftists. In a number of entries examined by the Post, which appeared on Polenz’s Facebook, writers posted “that rich, industrial Jews planned the genocide on the Jewish people in order to create Israel.” In another entry, Darwisch Salman Khorassani wrote that if “USREAL [Israel and the US] attack, I will register as a suicide bomber. Not from Islamic motives but from pure humanistic motives.”