Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

The Skeptics Organize

David Irving refutes diary
David Irving refutes diary
 

Some disbelievers went so far as to publicly denounce the diaries as fakes, sparking a debate amongst historians, publishers and experts worldwide. Historian David Irving was the most vocal critic of the diaries authenticity. He, like many others, maintained that there were aspects of the journals that were inconsistent. The handwriting in the journals did not resemble Hitlers, the content often did not correspond with known historical accounts, the language used lacked Hitlers force, and the material on which the diaries were written was suspected of being modern.

Adolph Hitler's signature (authentic)
Adolph Hitler's signature (authentic)
 

The executives of Stern magazine were angered by the mounting suspicion concerning the diaries authenticity and vehemently maintained that they were indeed genuine. Besides, their panel of experts proved the documents were legitimate. Moreover, one of the leading experts on the Nazi era, Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper, claimed after viewing the journals that they were undoubtedly the genuine articles. It never occurred to Stern that the experts could have been mistaken.  

Adolph Hitler's signature (forged)
Adolph Hitler's signature (forged)
 

The debate propelled West Germanys Federal Archives to run their own series of tests to determine whether the diaries were the real thing. Scientists were employed to chemically test several of the volumes to see if the paper, glue, ink and bindings were relevant to the period, which they were purported to have been from. Finally, on May 6, 1983 the Federal Archive held a press conference to announce their findings.

WGFA president declares diary a forgery
WGFA president declares diary a forgery
 

The Federal Archive officially announced that the Hitler diaries were flagrant and worthless forgeries and by no means the work of Adolf Hitler. Tests proved that the paper, ink and glue of the diaries was undoubtedly manufactured post World War II. Thus, the diaries had been made sometime after Hitlers death. Handwriting analysis further verified that the diaries were fakes.

Henri Nannen
Henri Nannen

  Stern executives initially handled the news of the forgery with disbelief. They could no longer escape the painful truth that they had been swindled. Almost immediately after the news of the bogus diaries had become public, several people in Sterns editorial department resigned or were fired from their positions, including Heidemann. In fact, the founder and publisher of Stern, Henri Nannen, filed fraud charges against Heidemann in Hamburg, Germany, three days after the news that the diaries were forgeries.

   Although it was speculated that Heidemann was one of the primary perpetrators of the scam, few believed he acted alone. The publishing company and the police immediately began an investigation to find out who else may have been involved in the hoax. At the time, Konrad Kujaus identity had not yet been discovered. However, he knew his time of anonymity was quickly coming to an end.

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