Wilkomirski the Victim61named Bruno. Today he claims that his parents forced this course of action on him to spare themselves the shame of having an illegitimategrandchild. In accordance with the law at the time, the unmarried mother was denied parental guardianship and her child became a ward of state.As a result of the accident Yvonne Grosjean was physically handi-capped and psychologically disturbed. She received no compensation,however, since the police and law courts handled the culprit, a promi-nent factory owner, with kid gloves. She moved from one rented roomto another, trying to support herself and the child on the pittance sheearned from work done from home. Finally, she was forced to giveBruno, still barely two years old, into care. After two foster homes,he was placed with the Aeberhard family in the neighboring village of Nidau. His foster mother was mentally disturbed, which made Bruno’slife unbearable for almost a year until, in February 1945, the family informed the legal guardian that they could no longer keep the child.While the biological mother was ghting for her life in hospital,after almost hemorrhaging to death due to a self-induced abortion, thelegal guardian sent her son to a children’s home in the Bernese Oberland. The guardian, always skeptical of the young woman’s life style and herability to rear her child, soon urged her to put the child up for adoption.She nally gave in to the pressure—including the threat of being certi-ed as incompetent. Her son, whom she would never see again, was sobewildered meanwhile that he identied a strange woman visitor to thechildren’s home as his mother.In October 1945 Bruno Grosjean was sent to Zurich to live withKurt and Martha Dössekker, a childless couple, both from respectable,established families, wealthy owners of a large villa in the best areaof town, the Zurichberg; the man had a ourishing doctor’s practice.Bruno’s schoolfriends of the time recall that, even as early as primary school, his stories were not always reliable.
He did not actually lie somuch as distort reality, relating strange tales—of scorpions or caves, forexample—in his desire to impress others. He once dedicated a poemto his girlfriend’s mother, whom he respected, claiming to have writtenit himself, whereas it was really by Bertolt Brecht. Even his epilepticattacks, which aroused the concern of his fellow pupils at secondary school, were probably simulated as well. He was already telling peoplethat he was a child refugee from the Baltics. However, he still celebrated