Photo of the Day

Gerd Heidemann poses with the diaries. Image from Stern Magazine – Apr 22, 1983. Gerd Heidemann, a reporter for Stern, stood at the centre of the hoax. He was both its primary instigator and, paradoxically, one of its main dupes.

The Fake Hitler Diaries

Media organisations competed to buy the rights to Hitler’s diaries, which turned out to be one of the most outrageous fakes in the history of journalism. It would have been one of the greatest historical buys of the 20th century: Sixty-two handwritten volumes of a secret diary kept by Adolf Hitler. Der Stern Magazine thought they had the exclusive rights into one of the darkest minds of all time. Instead, they paid millions of dollars for a hoax.

In 1983, German newsweekly Stern came out with an exclusive report on what seemed to be the most explosive diaries in history: the collected thoughts of Adolf Hitler. The diaries, allegedly written between 1932 and 1945, were found in East Germany, apparently in the wreckage of a plane crash where they had been hidden since that time.

Stern paid an estimated $6 million for the diaries, and the plan was to publish them in partnership with The Sunday Times of London. The Times (along with Newsweek) brought in experts to confirm the document’s authenticity — to historian Hugh Trevor-Roper the diaries appeared genuine, at least the handwriting. But as Stern began to share the documents, it became clear they were not authentic — in fact, they were a modern forgery containing historical mistakes, written in tea-stained composition books — and as it turns out, Trevor-Roper, who reviewed the documents for their authenticity, couldn’t read German. While the documents had come from Germany, they had not come from Hitler; Heidemann had bought the faked diaries from an art dealer (and forger) named Konrad Kajau.

The documents had apparently been hidden away in East Germany by a mysterious Dr Fischer after being recovered from an aircraft crash near Dresden in April 1945. The diaries passed three handwriting tests; the Times of London and Newsweek engaged historians, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Gerhard Weinberg, to examine the papers, with Trevor-Roper, convinced of their authenticity.

But Stern, which bought the documents, made a critical error: fearing the sensational story would leak, they refused to allow any German experts on World War II to examine the diaries. Within two weeks of publication, the West German Bundesarchiv had exposed the Hitler diaries as “grotesquely superficial fakes” made on modern paper using 1980s-era ink and riddled with historical inaccuracies. The fallout ruined Trevor-Roper’s reputation and cost editors at Stern, the Sunday Times and Newsweek their jobs. As for the diaries themselves, they turned out to be the work of notorious Stuttgart forger Konrad Kujau. Both Heidemann and Kujau went to trial and were each sentenced to 42 months in prison for forgery and embezzlement.

The last known copy of the fake Hitler diaries was sold at auction in 2004 to an anonymous bidder for 6,500 euros. © MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Gerd Heidemann, a reporter for Stern, stood at the center of the hoax. He was both its primary instigator and, paradoxically, one of its main dupes. In the autumn of 1979 an investigative reporter for the German magazine Der Stern, Gerd Heidemann, was invited to the house of a man named Fritz Stiefel, a collector of Nazi memorabilia. Stiefel had paintings and letters created by Hitler laid out in a glass case like a museum display. Heidemann, a Nazi enthusiast, studied each of them carefully. Finally, he noticed something else in the case: A black book. When he asked about it he was told that it was a secret diary kept by the Nazi leader. One of supposedly six volumes.

Heidemann had been a full-time reporter for Stern since 1955. He was known by his colleagues for being an enthusiastic, though overly gullible, researcher. He was also an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia. The crown jewel of his collection was a boat, the Carin II, originally owned by the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering. Heidemann bought the boat in 1973, planning to fix it up and resell it for a profit, but the repairs proved far more costly and time-consuming than he had anticipated. After seven years he was deeply in debt and needed to sell the boat. It was while trying to find a buyer that he stumbled upon the existence of the Hitler diary.

In January 1980 Heidemann visited the Stuttgart home of Fritz Steifel, a wealthy collector of Nazi memorabilia, hoping to persuade him to buy the Carin II. Steifel wasn’t interested, but while Heidemann was there, Steifel showed him an unusual and very rare item he had recently acquired. It was a single, black-bound volume of Hitler’s diary, covering the period from January to June 1935. Heidemann was immediately intrigued. He hadn’t been aware that Hitler had kept a diary. This was not surprising, Steifel assured him since almost no one knew of its existence. Steifel then proceeded to explain where the diary had come from, and why its existence had remained unknown for so long.

Heidemann was shocked. He’d been fascinated by the life of Hitler for years but never heard that the man had kept a diary. The inner thinking of the Nazi leader had always been a mystery even to other leading members of the Third Reich. A true diary would give historians insight into the thinking of a man who had, for evil, changed the face of the world. Heidemann realised that if the diaries were authentic and if he could get a hold of them, he would have one of the biggest journalistic scoops of the 20th century. To buy the diaries Heidemann knew he would have to have the economic backing of his magazine Stern, but before they would give him the money he would have to make a case for the diaries being authentic.

One of Heidemenn’s first steps was to try and determine how the Stiefel’s volume of the diary had gotten into his hands. Stiefel had been told the diary had been aboard a plane carrying some of the Fuehrer’s belongings that had crashed in the village of Boernersdorf at the end of the war. The first thing that Heidemann did was to travel to Boernersdorf to confirm the story. There he found that indeed there had been a plane crash in April of 1945. Records indicated that a Junkers 352 transport went down carrying some of Hitler’s personal effects. When he heard of the crash Hitler had stated, “In that plane were all my private archives that I had intended as a testament to posterity. It is a catastrophe!”

Heidemann also found that a chest of papers had supposedly been recovered from the wreck and this was rumoured to be the source of the diaries. He also learned there were 27 more volumes of the diaries in the hands of a man named Konrad Fischer.

Equipped with this information, Heidemann made a proposal to his bosses at Stern that they purchase the diaries. Stern said it would pay as much as 2 million marks (approximately $800,000) to obtain the diaries. With this money behind him, Heidemann went searching for Fischer. Fischer turned out to be hard to find. Eventually, Heidemann contacted him through intermediaries. Fischer seemed reluctant to sell the diaries, but the amount of money involved won him over. He did insist that Heidemann promise to keep his identity a secret.

The first diary was delivered to Stern editorial offices in January of 1981. Surprisingly more and more diaries kept showing up. Heidemann told his bosses that after the plane crash the diaries had come into the possession of an East German general and were being smuggled out of that country one by one (supposedly inside pianos). With each new volume, Stern paid more money and stood to make more money when they resold the story to other news media. The final tally was 62 volumes (covering the period from 1932 to 1945) for which Stern paid 9.9 million marks (almost $4 million).

Before Stern could resell the story they needed to make sure the diaries were authentic. To do this they had handwriting experts compare the diaries with copies of material found by Heidemann in the German Federal Archives at Koblenz. Without question the handwriting was identical and Stern’s editor’s enthusiasm for the project soared, perhaps blinding them to the need for additional authentication checks.

On April 25th, 1983, Stern magazine broke the story. The cover, showing one of the black-bound volumes, proclaimed “Hitlers Tagebucher Entdeckt” or “Hitler’s Diary Discovered.” The news media around the world jumped on the story. Newsweek, ParisMatch and London’s Sunday Times and Times newspapers all made bids to get the rights to reprint all or part of the diaries.Stern stood to make a fortune on the reprint rights.

What the diaries showed was surprising. If one were to believe the diaries, Hitler was a much more kinder and gentler man than the historical record showed. In particular, the diary entries suggested that he had little knowledge of what was happening in the concentration camps scattered around Europe. He also expressed a desire to deport the Jews to other countries rather than put them to death.

Even before sceptics got a look at the material they expressed doubts that the diaries were real. Historians familiar with Hitler pointed out that he loathed writing and that none of his intimates in the Nazi organisation, including his secretary, had believed he had kept a diary. When the critics actually got to look at the material their objections to its authenticity only increased. Historian David Irving pointed out that what was recorded in the diaries did not correspond to known historical events and the materials that the books were composed of appeared to be too modern for the era. Most damaging of all was the claim by experts of Hitler’s writing that the script in the diaries did not resemble his at all, especially since the handwriting had been at the heart of Stern’s authentication procedure.

West Germany’s Federal Archives decided to get involved and ran several scientific tests on the books. On May 6, 1983, they released their findings: the paper, ink and glue of the diaries was undoubtedly manufactured after the end of World War II and Hitler’s death. The volumes for which Stern had paid millions of dollars were worthless forgeries.

Hitler in Paris: Did he keep a diary?

“Stern” magazine’s discovery of the Hitler diaries was a media sensation — and a spectacular hoax. Insiders illuminate the pitfalls of publishers influencing editorial policy.

“All the ingredients for a programmed catastrophe were there from Day One,” said Michael Seufert.

Seufert was Stern’s domestic editor on April 25, 1983, when the weekly newsmagazine publicised its sensational scoop: 62 volumes of Adolf Hitler’s journal entries from 1932 to 1945 bound in black imitation leather had been unearthed.

The fanfare over the Stern exclusive was, however, short-lived. Two weeks later, the diaries were exposed as complete forgeries. It had turned out that Stern’s source in obtaining the alleged diaries was a con artist and petty thief named Konrad Kujau, who made a small fortune in fabricating and selling old Nazi memorabilia.

Kujau found a taker for his forgeries in Stern reporter Gerd Heidemann, and that’s where the disaster began, according to Seufert.

“Heidemann had such a morbid fascination with Nazi collectables that he even wound up befriending war criminals and was ready to believe in anything,” Seufert said.

 Stern realised that it had been taken and heads began to roll. Several members of the staff (including Heidemann) were fired. In addition, Stern’s founder, Henri Nannen, filed fraud charges against Heidemann several days later and the police began to investigate. It quickly became clear that Heidemann had not forged the diaries himself. Heidemann gave up Fischer’s name and the investigation soon focused on him. The police soon discovered that Fischer’s real name was Konrad Kujau. Kujau was a petty criminal who specialised in forgery. He had started by taking legitimate Nazi memorabilia and adding the names of important Nazis to increase the value. Later on he started forging entire works including letters, documents and even paintings and sketches were allegedly done by Hitler. In a 1983 book by Billy Price called Adolf Hitler: The Unknown Artist a quarter of the works pictured were actually forgeries by Kujau.

Kujau’s prolific forgery solved the mystery of how the Stern handwriting experts had been fooled. When they had compared the handwriting in the diaries to the handwriting found in letters by Hitler, they pronounced it identical. Indeed it was. The letters that they had used for comparison turned out to be previous forgeries by Kujau, not actually letters written by Hitler.

Kujau, Heidemann and Kujau’s wife, Edith, were brought to trial. Kujau claimed that Heidemann was completely aware that the documents were forgeries but bought them anyway paying 1 million marks. Heidemann claimed he hadn’t known they were forgeries but admitted that he had seen the possibility of some historical discrepancies. Kujau and Heidemann were given four and one-half years in prison and Edith eight months. The judge stated that while there were only three defendants, the Stern’s publishing firm should be the fourth. He said that Stern had “acted with such naiveté and negligence that it was virtually an accomplice in the fraud.”

A German transport plane similar to the one that crashed in Boernersdorf.

The story that Steifel told Heidemann about where the diaries had come from was a central element in the hoax — and, as it turned out, some details of the story were true. This provided a veneer of historical credibility, and is important for understanding why so many people would believe the diaries were authentic.

During the last days of the war, the Nazis had attempted to keep valuable documents from falling into the hands of the occupying forces by removing boxes full of official archives from the Berlin bunker and flying them down to southern Germany. They called this removal project “Operation Seraglio.” One of the transport planes crashed in East Germany, near the Czech border. Hans Baur, Hitler’s personal pilot who was present in the bunker, later recalled that when Hitler heard of this crash he became visibly upset and exclaimed, “In that plane were all my private archives, that I had intended as a testament to posterity. It is a catastrophe.” Days later the third reich dissolved and Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.

It was plausible that the loss of a personal diary — even though Hitler had never been known to keep one — could have provoked such a reaction from Hitler. Before attempting to contact “Herr Fischer,” Walde and Heidemann traveled to East Germany, to try to locate the crashed plane. They succeeded in doing so, and in their minds, this confirmed the entire story about the source of the diary. They could imagine that local villagers must indeed have rescued it from the plane, and that it then came into the possession of an East German military official.

In actuality, there was no evidence that any documents, let alone Hitler’s Diary, had survived the crash. The forger had simply stumbled upon Baur’s account of the plane crash (Baur had been telling it to whomever would listen for years), and he had then built a fantasy of Hitler’s lost diary around the reality of the crashed plane.

Gerd Heidemann in East Germany, posing beside the graves of the victims of the plane crash from which the diary was supposedly recovered. November 1980.

If Heidemann’s gullibility were the only issue, the fake Hitler diaries would have never seen the light of day. The downfall was that the top brass at Stern’s publisher, Gruener + Jahr, had also been blind-sided and were so eager for an exclusive scoop that they not only forked over a colossal sum in cash to obtain the diaries but had even guaranteed that only Heidemann and one other editor could review its contents. The project was shrouded in secrecy in order to protect alleged sources in the former East Germany dictatorship, according to Seufert, who described the collision of reporter and publisher with a counterfeiter and the Cold War as a backdrop, as fatal.

“We editors were completely kept out of the loop, so all the normal checks and balances to authenticate stories were brushed aside,” said Seufert. Both had served over four years of prison time each on fraud charges, while Stern’s two top editors had resigned. Since most of the key players in the whole saga, including Kujau, are either dead now or refuse to discuss the scandal publicly, corroborating Seufert’s version of the events is difficult.

However, Magnus Linklater, who had been features editor of the Sunday Times of London, which had serial rights to publish extracts of the diaries in English, shared Seufert’s frustrations at the time. Linklater had smelled a rat when he read the material.

“It didn’t sound right,” he said.

Purchased sight unseen

“But the deal was that Rupert Murdoch, whose company owns the Times, bought the diaries from Stern, and the condition of purchase was that we were not allowed to conduct our own independent investigation,” Linklater added. “This was a clear case of the editorial and business side of newspapers clashing. We had to take the pig in a poke so to say.”

Before publication, Linklater did, however, talk to the eminent Hitler historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who assured him the diaries were genuine. “His word was good enough for me, but it goes to show how gullible we can all be,” Linklater said. “The point is if you are offered a scoop, you can keep it secret, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do internal checks.”

As it turned out, the Hitler documents were so technically flawed that forensic experts were able to easily determine that the paper, ink and glue that held the book bindings together were manufactured with post-war materials. Even Hitler’s handwriting had not been subject to analysis.

Importance of internal checks and controls

“You need outside experts to look at the handwriting or paper, so it is understandable that Stern, which was so paranoid about secrecy, was afraid of leaks,” said Gerhard Weinberg, a World War II historian, whom Newsweek had hired as a consultant to examine the authenticity of the diaries. “But what is unfathomable is why they did no internal checks.

Weinberg pointed out that the diaries were full of mistakes that would have been recognised had Stern allowed experts to examine even typed versions of the diaries. “Someone in-house could have then read the diary and would have discovered things that were so preposterous that Hitler couldn’t have possibly written them,” Weinberg said. “Hitler, for instance, would never have gotten the colour of his own uniform wrong.”

Hendrik Zoerner, spokesman for the German Journalists’ Association (DJV) said Stern normally does subject its stories to internal control mechanisms. The fake Hitler diaries were an exceptional case of gross negligence that would never be repeated again by Stern or any other media outlet, he said.

“But we in the media will be making other kinds of mistakes that are less spectacular than what happened at Stern,” Zoerner said. “Nowadays journalists are under such time pressure that they spend less time doing sound research and fact-checking, so they wind up slipping up and making smaller mistakes on a daily basis.”

Zoerner added that mistakes, even big ones are inevitable, but responsible journalists need to own up to them.

” Stern admitted its mistakes and worked through its crisis in public,” he said. “By doing so, it restored some credibility to its image.”

The contents page of the issue in which Stern made the announcement.

Stern announced the existence of the diaries in a press release issued on Friday, April 22. Three days later it devoted a special issue of its magazine to the diaries. It was the biggest issue in the magazine’s history, with a 48-page supplement devoted to the diaries. It had a print run of 2.3 million. The cover showed a picture of one of the diaries with the headline, “Hitler Diary Discovered.”

The announcement generated worldwide coverage. Newsweek devoted thirteen pages to the diaries, even though its deal with Stern had fallen through, and the New York Times ran articles about the diaries on its front page for four days in a row.

On Monday, April 25, in conjunction with the release of the special issue of the magazine, Stern held a press conference in which it displayed volumes of the diaries for the media.Stern intended the press conference to be an opportunity to boast about its scoop. It had prepared a film about the diaries and had prepared to have Trevor-Roper answer questions. But the press conference proved to be a disaster, giving an indication of things to come.

Instead of congratulating Stern for its scoop, the reporters proved extremely sceptical, insistently raising questions about the authenticity of the diaries. Peter Koch, editor ofStern, asked Trevor-Roper to address these concerns.

Unfortunately, during the previous week, Trevor-Roper had grown increasingly uncertain about whether the diaries were, in fact, real. His doubts were reinforced when he learned that Stern had lied to him about knowing the identity of the source of the diaries in East Germany. His response to the concerns of the reporters made the editorial staff of Stern cringe:

“As a historian, I regret that the, er, normal method of historical verification, er, has, perhaps necessarily, been to some extent sacrificed to the requirements of a journalistic scoop.”

Front cover of Stern’s special issue, announcing the discovery of Hitler’s diaries. The debunking of the diaries proved just as sensational as their discovery. Careers were ruined, and people went to jail. When all the dust settled, the diaries turned out to be one of the most expensive fakes in history. By some accounts, the entire debacle cost Stern as much as 19 million marks.

David John Cawdell Irving is an English Holocaust denier and author who has written on the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany. Irving played the main role in exposing the Hitler Diaries as a hoax. In October 1982, Irving purchased, from the same source as Stern’s 1983 purchase, 800 pages of documents relating to Hitler, only to conclude that many of the documents were forgeries. Irving was amongst the first to identify the diaries as forgeries and to draw media attention. He went so far as to crash the press conference held by Hugh Trevor-Roper at the Hamburg offices of Stern magazine on 25 April 1983 to denounce the diaries as a forgery and Trevor-Roper for endorsing the diaries as genuine.

Irving’s performance at the Stern press conference where he violently harangued Trevor-Roper until ejected by security led him to be featured prominently on the news; the next day, Irving appeared on the Today television show as a featured guest. Irving had concluded that the alleged Hitler diaries were a forgery because they had come from the same dealer in Nazi memorabilia from whom Irving had purchased his collection in 1982. At the press conference in Hamburg, Irving announced, “I know the collection from which these diaries come. It is an old collection, full of forgeries. I have some here”. Irving was proud to have detected and announced the hoax material and of the “trail of chaos” he had created at the Hamburg press conference and the attendant publicity it had brought him, and took pride in his humiliation of Trevor-Roper, whom Irving strongly disliked for his sloppy work (not detecting the hoax) and criticism of Irving’s methods and conclusions. Irving also noted internal inconsistencies in the supposed Hitler diaries, such as a diary entry for July 20, 1944, which would have been unlikely given that Hitler’s right hand had been badly burned by the bomb planted in his headquarters by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg earlier that day.

A week later on 2 May, Irving asserted that many of the diary documents appear to be genuine; at the same press conference, Irving took the opportunity to promote his translation of the memoirs of Hitler’s physician Dr Theodor Morell. Robert Harris, in his book Selling Hitler, suggested that an additional reason for Irving’s change of mind over the authenticity of the alleged Hitler diaries was that the fake diaries contain no reference to the Holocaust, thereby buttressing Irving’s claim in Hitler’s War that Hitler had no knowledge of it. Subsequently, Irving confirmed when the diaries were declared as a forgery by consensus. At a press conference held to withdraw his endorsement of the diaries, Irving proudly claimed that he was the first to call them a forgery, to which a reporter replied that he was also the last to call them genuine.

Media organisations competed to buy the rights to Hitler’s diaries, which turned out to be one of the most outrageous fakes in the history of journalism.

7 May 1983: The Sunday Times paid some of the £250,000 for publishing rights, and was about to begin serialising the diaries. The Bonn Minister of the interior, Mr Friedrich Zimmermann, said that three volumes of the alleged diaries sent to the Federal Archive, in Koblenz, for checking had been shown to be forgeries, made with post-war materials. The archive had called in federal forensic and standard institute experts to test the papers.

A Sunday Times spokesman said: “The Sunday Times accepts the report of the German archivists that the volumes they have examined contain materials that demonstrate the diaries are not authentic. In view of this, the Sunday Times will not go ahead with publication.”

The journalist jailed for his part in one of the 20th century’s great hoaxes was an agent of East Germany’s intelligence service, the Stasi.

Heidemann had been a full-time reporter for Stern since 1955. He was known by his colleagues for being enthusiastic, though overly gullible, researcher. He was also an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia. The crown jewel of his collection was a boat, the Carin II, originally owned by the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering. Heidemann bought the boat in 1973, planning to fix it up and resell it for a profit, but the repairs proved far more costly and time-consuming than he had anticipated. After seven years he was deeply in debt and needed to sell the boat. It was while trying to find a buyer that he stumbled upon the existence of the Hitler diary.

Gerd Heidemann, who acted as the intermediary between the forger of the diaries and his employers at Stern magazine, was quoted as saying he had, in fact, been a double agent. The news weekly Der Spiegel, which published an extract from Mr Heidemann’s Stasi file, said he claimed to have handed over his payments from the East Germans to West Germany’s counter-intelligence service.

The revelation of his links to the Stasi that the theory that the 1983 Hitler diaries affair was not just a vintage bungle but a communist plot. Its unmasking did lasting damage not only to Stern but also to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the reputation of a leading conservative historian.

The Sunday Times was about to begin serialising the diaries and the Times had already carried an article by Lord Dacre (formerly Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper) endorsing their authenticity. Supposedly covering the entire history of the Third Reich, from 1933 to 1945, they were, in fact, the invention of a Stuttgart forger, Konrad Kujau. Heidemann claimed to have been duped by him. But the forger insisted that he had told Heidemann they were fakes.

The document said that Heidemann was recruited by the East German intelligence service in 1953 when he was a young photo-journalist. He was given the code-name Gerhard. His mission was to provide information mainly on “military targets and secret service premises, in particular, those of the English secret service”.

Der Spiegel said other documents in his file showed that he photographed secret sites in several parts of Germany. He was well paid but constantly demanded more. On one occasion his case officer noted dryly that “the money issue for him always plays the leading role”. Der Spiegel said Heidemann wrote to the Stasi in 1955, withdrawing his services. But the files also revealed that in 1978, agent Gerhad was handed over by the department that had recruited him to the Stasi’s foreign espionage department under Markus Wolf. His file was archived – a sign that he was no longer considered useful – in 1986.

Nobody ever found out what happened to the bulk of the money paid out by Stern. According to Kujau, Heidemann skimmed much of it before paying him. Clearly, both Kajau and Heidemann’s lifestyle took a turn for the better at the time of the fraud and most of the money never made it back into Stern’s hands.

Could Stern really have avoided the loss of millions of dollars and its international reputation? It seems clear in retrospect that the publishing firm could have found out the truth if they had simply subjected the diaries to a few scientific tests. Examination of the books themselves showed that they contained whiteners and threads not manufactured until the 1950’s. Chemical tests revealed that the ink was modern and only recently applied to the paper.

A careful reading of the text would have also revealed historical inaccuracies that might not have proved the diaries fake by themselves but should have raised suspicions. Much of the material Kujau stole from a book called Hitler’s Speeches and Proclamations written by Max Domarus. This also should have raised a red flag to anyone carefully trying to authenticate the diaries.

As the judge indicated, the owners and editors of Der Stern may have been as much to blame as Kujau and Heidemann. They were too ready to believe that they had scooped every news organisation in the world on the story of the Hitler diaries, and much too ready to profit from it.

After being released from prison in 1988, Kujau opened a gallery in Stuttgart. There he sold “authentic fakes.” These included not only forgeries of Hitler’s paintings, but also reproductions of Dalis, Monets, Rembrandts, and Van Goghs. He signed each painting with both his own name and that of the original artist. Many of these “authentic fakes” sold for tens of thousands of marks. In fact, his work became so popular that other forgers began to create forged copies of Kujau’s forgeries.

Kujau tried to use his celebrity status to pursue a political career. In 1994 he ran for mayor of his home of Löbau. Two years later he ran for mayor of Stuttgart. Both campaigns were unsuccessful. When he was released from prison, Kujau had indicated his intention to write a memoir of his role in the Hitler Diary hoax, to be titled I Was Hitler. However, he never found the time to write this. In 1998 a book appeared in print under his name titled Die Originalität der Fälschung (“The Originality of Forgery”). But Kujau denounced this book as a fraud, stating, “I did not write one line of this book.”

Kujau died in 2000. His great-niece, Petra Kujau, was subsequently charged with selling hundreds of fakes of his fakes. She would buy oil paintings from art schools in Asia, usually for as little as 10 euros apiece, write Kujau’s signature on them, and resell them for up to 3,500 euros.

Deception can be such a rich thing – especially against the skilled yet majestically gullible. All that is left now is to see whether a forgery of the forgery will take place – for those diaries in the Federal archives have now become “authentic” works of history, genuine subjects of research.

Diary of the Hitler Diary Hoax | The New Yorker

‘Hitler Diaries’ proved to be forged – archive, 7 May 1983 | World news …

Hitler Diaries – Wikipedia

25 years ago today… the Sunday Times published Hitler’s diaries …

Hitler diary hoax victim Lord Dacre dies at 89 | The Times & The …

Hitler’s Diaries – Top 10 Shocking Hoaxes – TIME

Hitler diaries scandal: ‘We’d printed the scoop of the century, then it …

The Hitler Diaries – David Irving

BBC World Service – Witness, The Hitler diaries hoax

The UnMuseum: The Hitler Diaries – Museum of Unnatural Mystery

Impact of the Fake Hitler Diaries Press Scandal 25 Years Later – dw

Flashback: The Fake Hitler Diaries | All media content | DW | 22.04.2013

Hoax: From the Hitler diaries to gay girl in Damascus – BBC News

Authentic Fakes: The Hitler Diaries and History

Hitler Diaries | diaries attributed to Hitler | Britannica.com

Diary Hoaxes – The Museum of Hoaxes

The Hitler Diaries – The Forensics Library

Reporter Who Found Forged Hitler Diaries Wants Them Back – Spiegel


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