Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

History Rewritten

<em>Stern Magazine</em> cover with the Hitler Diaries
Stern Magazine cover with the Hitler Diaries

On April 25, 1983, news of the Hitler diaries dominated the headline on Stern magazines front page. It was quickly followed by similar headlines in magazines and newspapers throughout Europe and the United States. The news of the discovery sent a shockwave throughout the world. It was considered to be one of the biggest historical finds of the century.

As the news spread, many were shocked to learn that the diaries portrayed a much different Hitler than what was previously understood. The Hitler that filled the pages of the diary was much more affable than historical accounts depicted him to be. There were entries in the diary, which suggested that Hitler had little, if anything, to do with the 1938 Nazi riot against the Jews known as the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). Conversely, historical accounts suggested that Hitler actually orchestrated and commanded the vicious rampage that caused so much destruction and ended so many innocent lives.

Moreover, the diary entries further suggested that Hitler had little, if any, knowledge of the horrific events that took place in many of the concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. Instead, the diaries alleged that Hitler would have rather had the Jews deported to other countries instead of terminating them in the camps. In other words, the diaries led people to believe that Hitler was not the kind of man who would have ruthlessly murdered millions of people. However, historical accounts and testimony from survivors and those who actually bore witness to the atrocities in the concentration camps grossly conflicted with the writings in the diary.

Surprisingly, many historians and experts were so caught up in the fervor of the discovery that they inadvertently disregarded important inconsistencies within the diaries. Yet, there were those who werent so easily swayed by the ensuing enthusiasm and were surprised, even distressed by the diaries content. Skeptics wondered how anyone could have overlooked or fallen for such obvious nonsense. They refused to accept the new image of Hitler that was being exemplified in the diaries and in the media. Thus, the news of the discovery and the diaries content prompted as much disbelief and skepticism as it did credence.

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