A 91-year-old Pennsylvania man has admitted to lying for years about being an Auschwitz survivor, even going so far as to have an actual prisoner's number tattooed on his arm, the AP reports. Joseph Hirt has lectured to numerous school groups and organizations about his experience escaping from Auschwitz. But Hirt's story drew the suspicions of New York teacher Andrew Reid, who questioned his timeline of events, during a lecture in April, according to Penn Live. Reid's investigation into Hirt turned into a 25-page report sent to any media outlet that had written about him and any organization that had hosted him. Hirt's own nephew confirmed that Hirt made the whole thing up. He said Hirt's family left Poland before Germany invaded.
While Hirt originally fought back against Reid's claims, he delivered a letter of apology to Lancaster Online this week, asking for forgiveness. “I did not intend to lessen or overshadow the events which truly happened there by falsely claiming to have been personally involved," Hirt writes. He says he only lied about escaping Auschwitz as a "60-pound skeleton with skin" to “enhance the important truth of the suffering and death of so many.” “I used poor judgment and faulty reasoning," Hirt writes. Hirt says he was inspired by a visit to Auschwitz years after the end of WWII. "I determined at that moment to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of the truth about wartime life (and death) at Auschwitz," he writes.