Rosemarie is a survivor.
Jean Goodwin Messinger lives not far from me in Longmont, Colorado.
In 2005, she published a book by her friend, called "Hannah: From Dachau to the
Olympics and Beyond".
In her book, she wrote about the amazing perseverance of Rosemarie Pence, who had once been called Hannah but changed it because it sounded too Jewish.
A young girl in Dauchau
When Ms. Pence was three years old, she was placed in the Dachau concentration camp. Her arm still bears a scar from the tattoo.
Years later, in 1956, she competed as an athlete in skiing for the German Olympic team.
The book explains how she met her husband Wayne Pence and had a son, Brian. When he was 4, her husband went missing in Vietnam. His name is on a headstone in Loveland, Colorado.
Her son died in an airplane crash in 1993.
Ms. Pence remained upbeat, and spoke to groups about her life, and her stories earned her friends who cared about her and were moved by her triumph over adversity.
However, there were some problems in Ms. Pence’s life.
When she was living in a house with Mark Robertson, who she said was like a son to her, she told him there was going to be a ceremony in Boulder where she was going to get an honorary degree from a university in Oklahoma, presented by an old friend of hers, the queen of the Netherlands.
She said they were going to make a movie about her life, with Stephen Spielberg filming.
The night before the ceremony, she cancelled because she was in the hospital with chest pains.
Mr. Robertson got suspicious about these facts, and in the hospital asked Ms. Pence to tell the truth, to come clean about what she’d been telling him, because it didn’t sound like it was all true. She said there was nothing to tell the truth about.
She moved out.
Ms. Pence asked a local Christian bookstore to carry the book written about her, and became close friends with the owner, Deena Kicera. She moved into a room in a house with Ms. Kicera and her husband.
She attended a religious event, called Living Proof Ministries with Beth Moore. Ms. Pence decided she wanted to be baptized, and later Ms. Moore spoke about her during a conference. Another TV-based ministry called Ms. Moore and said they had heard her talk about Ms. Pence and were interested in talking with her, but had anyone ever verified the claims in her book?
Turns out, nobody had.
David Kicera, the husband of Ms. Kicera, a Boulder police officer, began investigating.
He found out that Ms. Pence’s husband, Wayne Pence, who supposedly went missing and was presumed dead in Vietnam, was alive and on Facebook. They began corresponding.
At first, Mr. Pence was suspicious and had his daughter talk for him. That’s because his former wife had fled and taken their son.
He and his current wife had been searching for him, and were upset when Mr. Kicera told them that his son had died.
It turns out, Ms. Pence’s marriage and the death of her son were some of the only truths about her.
Besides the lies about her still-living husband, she was never an athlete on the Olympic ski team.
And she was never in a concentration camp.
And she wasn’t Jewish.
In 1992, she had been convicted of felony theft.
Years before, she had been hospitalized for schizophrenia.
Ms. Pence left Colorado before all this information was revealed.
Said Ms. Messinger, who wrote the book of her life which turned out to be a book of lies:
"I regarded this woman as a sister for the years I have known her… This revelation is shocking and disappointing to all of us who knew her and loved her, and counted her as a trusted friend… I’ve always found history more exciting than fiction, and I regret that Hannah’s remarkable journey is not what it claimed to be in fact…
I felt she was sick. I just don’t believe anyone could be that evil."
– Longmont author, duped by Holocaust huckster for one book, focuses on other lives and stories –
– Author recants Holocaust tale, The European Union Times>>
– Colorado woman’s inspirational life story a lie, Fox 31>>