Perth, Western Australia, Sunday, October 31, 2004
Holocaust man's claims
By Catherine Madden and Jim
A WA author who wrote a book allegedly
based on his harrowing life as a Holocaust survivor is at
the centre of a row over his credibility.
UWA Press has pulled copies of Stolen Soul from
bookshops after a private investigator was called in to
probe the author's background.
The book, written by Secret Harbour man Bernard
Holstein -- whose real name is Bernard
Brougham -- claims to be "the amazing true story of
survival and mateship in Auschwitz".
The publisher describes the book as "an epic read full
of stories of how Bernard underwent experiments, assisted
the Underground and even escaped, only to be recaptured
and subjected to even greater torture".
But this week a UWA Press
spokeswoman admitted the publishing house removed the
book because of doubts about the author's
A fake Auschwitz
Initially, it was convinced of the authenticity of the
memoirs of Brougham, who sports a tattoo of the number
111404 on the inside of his left arm, similar to those
given to Jews by the Nazis.
Brougham, 69, a mining camp cook, says his story is
true -- but concedes he may never be able to prove
"It is true, it did happen," he said, acknowledging he
had little to support his claims and might never convince
his detractors that his death camp experiences were
He has no immigration papers, no German birth
certificate and no living witnesses who could verify his
arrival in Sydney from a post-war holding camp in
"All I have is what is in my memory," he said. "But I
have got nothing to hide. This book is an account of what
happened in my life.
"I am not a liar, what I have written is
true. People might ask how a boy who was only nine at
the time can remember what happened in so much detail
but I can tell you, once you step through the gates
into the barracks at Auschwitz, you instantly grow up.
I remember everything. I still have nightmares about
On the strength of the book Brougham was
invited to talk to
schoolchildren at the Holocaust Institute in
His story was questioned when his NSW foster family
called UWA Press claiming that not only was he not born
in Holstein, Germany, as he said, but he was not
By this stage the book had sold out its first print
run and Brougham was already at work on a sequel,
revealing how he fled to Australia after Auschwitz was
A private investigator
employed by UWA Press claims that Brougham was born in
Wales, Australia], baptised
a Roman Catholic in 1942, made his Confirmation in
1952 and even spent time in a seminary training to
become a priest.
Brougham says he was raised as a Catholic in Australia
and his step-parents never discussed his Jewish
He said he would take a DNA test to prove he was not
related to his five step-siblings in a bid to
authenticate his story and convince UWA Press that it was
"I remember that three doctors who were members of the
Underground (resistance fighters) told me that 'one or
two or three of you boys are going to get out of this
hell hole and you must tell the world what happened
here'," he said.
In the book he claims that a tearful exchange with a
German tourist several years ago convinced him to write
his memoirs, which cost him about $70,000 to have
ghost-written and published.
The book has been selling on the Angus & Robertson
website for $26.95 and Brougham has made several
Publicity for the book said Bernard Holstein "endured
two years of hell" at Auschwitz. Despite his ordeal,
"Bernard survived and has now fulfilled his promise to
tell the story the world needs to know. Stolen
Soul is Bernard's story. His memories, his tears, his
belief in the human spirit are all contained within its