Sophie Hingst, a German blogger and historian who had studied at Trinity College Dublin, was found dead in her Dublin apartment on July 17. 

Marie Sophie Hingst, 31, had run a popular blog detailing what appeared to be the stories of her ancestors who had been victims of the Holocaust. She faced public backlash and was stripped of a Golden Blogger award when German magazine Der Spiegel published a story revealing she had allegedly fabricated her Jewish ancestry and Holocaust history. 

The cause of her death has not been released, but Garda (police) said no foul play was suspected. 

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Since receiving her history doctoral degree from Trinity College Dublin, Hingst had been working for Intel in Ireland. She had run her blog, “Read on My Dear, Read On,” for years, detailing the struggles of her ancestors during Kristallnacht and in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Beginning in 2013, she submitted 22 pages of testimony to Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. 

Yad Vashem Hall of Names. Photo: Creative Commons/David Shankbone

Yad Vashem Hall of Names. Photo: Creative Commons/David Shankbone

Most of the paperwork was filled in by hand and, as Der Spiegel revealed, concerned people who had never existed. A historian the publication worked with deduced that three of the 22 were real ancestors of Hingst's, but that they had been Protestant. 

Hingst, they reported, had "moderated panel discussions for the Association for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, [worked] for the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and she became involved in the Jewish Society at Trinity College." In 2018, she had won a writing prize from Ireland's Financial Times. 

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“This kind of con job may not be a crime per se, but it is nevertheless scandalous. Inventing Holocaust victims is essentially a mockery of all those who really were tortured and killed by the Nazis," Der Spiegel reporter Martin Doerry wrote. 

In response, Hingst argued that the blog had been intended as a literary exercise, not to be interpreted as fact. 

Der Spiegel offices. Photo: Getty Images

Der Spiegel offices. Photo: Getty Images

Irish Times reporter Derek Scally met with Hingst in Berlin a few weeks prior to her death. In a story published August 1, he recalled Hingst telling him that she felt persecuted by Der Spiegel, suggesting that someone had been impersonating her, and handing him Holocaust artifacts as proof of her family's history. 

"This was no news story. This was a very agitated woman who needed help – and, knowing we were parting company soon, I was afraid that I might be the last person to see her alive," he wrote. 

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Later, Hingst's mother told him that “'My daughter has many realities and I only have access to one,' she said. She told of her daughter’s years of struggle with mental illness, repeated attempts at therapy and a new stability she found in Ireland."

Hingst was buried in her hometown of Wittenburg on July 31.  

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In America, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Sophie HingstYouTube/JTA