Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

Aftermath

The amazing thing throughout the entire trial was that it was never determined where the missing money went. More than 5 million marks allegedly paid out by Stern for the diaries had simply vanished. It wasnt even entirely clear who was in possession of the money at the time of the trial.

Some believe Konrad had actually received more money than he was admitting too. His abrupt change in lifestyle from modest to extravagant during the time the forgery was discovered certainly supports the theory. After all, many wondered how else would he have been able to afford the two apartments and a house with the money he claimed to have received.

However, it is also likely that Heidemann pocketed a vast majority of the money. At the time the fraud was being investigated, the authorities learned that Heidemann purchased two villas in Spain, two luxury sports cars, expensive jewelry, rare WWII memorabilia for his collection and extravagant vacations, amongst other things. All of the items, totaling well over 1.5 million marks, were allegedly paid for out of Heidemanns monthly salary of 5,400. Although evidence suggests that Heidemann was likely guilty of taking the money, it remained unclear where the majority of it was.

In 1988, Konrad was released from prison after hospital physicians diagnosed him with stomach cancer. According to a September 14, 2000 article in The Times, after Konrads release he claimed to be in debt for approximately £160,000. To make money, he produced and sold replica paintings of artists such as Hitler, Klimt, Monet, Rembrandt and Dali, being sure to tell buyers that the paintings were not original so as to stay out of legal trouble. The Times stated that Konrad was so successful that some of his paintings, fetched up to £42,000.

Apart from painting, Konrad also decided to embark on a political career. In 1994 he ran in an election for mayor of his hometown in Löbau, Germany. Although he was not elected, he decided to run again for mayor in 1996, but this time for the city of Stuttgart. Once again, he was not elected but he did manage to secure a large number of votes.

Following his brief stint in politics, Konrad went back to what he knew best, painting forgeries. However, no matter how hard he tried to stay on the up-and-up, he continued to get into trouble. According to The New York Times, a Stuttgart court fined Konrad in 1999 for falsifying his and other drivers licenses and being in possession of firearms. Yet, Konrad did not receive any jail time, only probation. The offenses were his last in a long series of crimes that lasted throughout his lifetime.

On September 12, 2000, Konrad passed away in a Stuttgart hospital from cancer. He was 62 years old at the time of his death. He left behind a son and his wife. Konrad would be forever known as the man who managed to fool millions by recreating history with his Hitler diary forgeries. His crime would go down in history as one of the most audacious and successful hoaxes of the century, next to that of Clifford Irving, who forged Howard Hughes biography, and Elmyr de Hory, who forged famous masterpieces.

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