Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

Konrad Confesses

Although he voluntarily gave himself over to the authorities, Konrad did not intend his surrender to be construed as an admission of guilt. He suggested to police that he turned himself in merely because he wanted official protection from false accusations. To their disappointment, he claimed that he had nothing to do with the fraud surrounding the Hitler diaries. The authorities were forced to come up with more evidence to support their belief that he and Heidemann were involved in the forgery.

During an interview, Konrad informed the police that he bought the Hitler diaries from an East German man, which he then sold for approximately 1 million German marks to Heidemann and Stern magazine. Not surprisingly, the police were highly suspicious of his story. They knew that Stern paid out more in exchange for the diaries than Konrad was admitting to. Moreover, his story about the East German man did not check out.

Konrad taking a smoke break after police interviews
Konrad taking a smoke break after police interviews

It was becoming increasingly apparent to the authorities that Konrad was weaving a tale of mistruths. Harris stated that referring to Konrad as a compulsive liar would be to underrate him. It was obviously something he did habitually. Moreover, police files from Konrads previous convictions further supported their suspicions that he was not an honest person and probably lying about his involvement in the fraud.

Their suspicions proved accurate when on May 26, Konrad finally confessed to forging the Hitler diaries. It was the break in the case the police had been hoping for. Following Konrads admission of guilt, the authorities hoped that he would be able to provide them with further information concerning Heidemanns possible involvement or lack thereof in the hoax. They wouldnt have to wait long to get what they wanted.

According to Harris, after confessing he informed the police that Heidemann had known about the forgery all along. It was an exaggeration, but he knew it would serve his purpose of pulling Heidemann down with him. Konrad was enraged because he learned that Heidemann gave him only a small fraction of the total sum that Stern paid out in exchange for the diaries. Konrad believed that Heidemann pocketed the rest of the cash, likely to be used to his own advantage and personal gain.

Based on Konrads testimony, the police were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Heidemann and on May 26 he was arrested at his home in connection with the Hitler diaries fraud. Shortly thereafter, he was detained in a Hamburg jail where he was expected to remain until his trial, which was scheduled for the following year. Much to Heidemanns dismay, he was placed only a few cells from Konrad who was said to have incessantly teased and mocked him throughout their incarceration. As the weeks passed the arguing between the two men increased in intensity. In an effort to provoke one another, Heidemann and Konrad often tried to coax people into taking their side in the ongoing battle of truths and mistruths concerning their involvement in the Hitler diaries scam.

According to Hamilton, Konrad told a lie that eventually led to the early release of his adversary. During one of their quarrels, Konrad had accidentally revealed evidence concerning the construction of the diaries, letting slip information that only the guilty party would have known. The unintentional admission of responsibility for the crime was overheard by witnesses and eventually revealed to the judge involved in the case. Realizing that Konrad was the likely mastermind behind the hoax, the judge was forced to re-evaluate the case against Heidemann. As a result, he was temporarily freed in September 1983 pending the trial. He had spent a little less than half a year in jail.