German historian and blogger Marie Sophie Hingst, whose invention of a family Holocaust history was outed in a Spiegel Magazine article in June, has died in Dublin at the age of 31.
She was found dead in her apartment on July 17. Police have not confirmed the cause of death, but said no foul play is suspected.
In June, Hingst was stripped of a “Golden Blogger” award following revelations that she faked a family history of suffering in the Holocaust.
According to Der Spiegel magazine, which broke the story last month, Hingst sent 22 pages of testimony for nonexistent people to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and archive, in 2013. She reported about her “family” in her blog, titled “Read on my dear, read on.” She later took the blog offline, and her writings appear to be lost.
Hingst “sought to establish close ties to the Jewish community,” the popular magazine reported. “She moderated panel discussions for the Association for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, she works for the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and she became involved in the Jewish Society at Trinity College.”
“This kind of con job may not be a crime per se, but it is nevertheless scandalous,” Der Spiegel editor Martin Doerry wrote. “Inventing Holocaust victims is essentially a mockery of all those who really were tortured and killed by the Nazis.”
However, Dublin-based journalist Derek Scally, who interviewed Hingst for the Times of Ireland, said it was clear to him that she suffered from mental illness. Hingst’s mother told Scully her daughter had several personalities.
Hingst, who had earned a degree in history at Trinity College in Dublin and was working for the high-tech company Intel, had admitted to Doerry that she had invented the family history; she called her award-winning blog literature, but Doerry concluded that she sometimes seemed to believe what she had invented.
After Doerry’s article was published, Hingst told Scally that she felt she had been “skinned alive.”