Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

Relic Manufacturing

Some of the relics Konrad sold included helmets, uniforms, flags, medals, forged letters and documents allegedly by former SS officials. Yet, of all the items he sold, his most popular were paintings purportedly created by Hitler. Konrad made enormous profits from the forged artworks. Surprisingly, unsuspecting buyers often purchased the items without any question of their authenticity. The buyers ignorance was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why Konrads scam became such a success.

Selling Hitler
Selling Hitler

To make the supposed artifacts more interesting, Konrad often invented stories about them. He knew enough about the artifacts and history to make the falsified stories quite convincing. He realized that his clients were often more attracted to the story surrounding the object then the object itself. Therefore, Konrad was a spectacular salesman who was able to appeal to the buyers emotional, as well as their material, interests.

By the late 1970s, Konrad decided to take on an even more elaborate project. The scheme involved the forging of Mein Kampf, a biographical account of Hitlers struggle against the establishment and his incarceration in Landsberg prison during the 1920s. By the time he finished, he had produced two handwritten volumes and a preface to a third book, which was totally fabricated from Konrads rich imagination.

Konrad Kujau
Konrad Kujau
 

Aside from the fact that the preface to the third volume was totally fictitious, Konrad added several other personal touches to his forgeries. According to Hamilton, he wrote the books by hand even though it was well known by Hitler experts that the original two volumes had been typewritten. Moreover, he stated that he wrote on the first page an inscription, allegedly by Hitler, marked with various possible titles for the book.

<em>Mein Kamfp</em> by Hitler
Mein Kamfp by Hitler

Konrad did not stop after the completion of the Mein Kampf forgeries. Instead, he continued to produce more counterfeit documents allegedly created by Hitler. Some of these included forged poems that were quickly sold off to enthusiastic and wealthy buyers.

Sometime after his Mein Kampf forgery, Konrad decided to attempt his most ambitious project. He undertook the task of creating more extensive handwritten biographical volumes of Hitlers most personal experiences. To Konrads surprise, his fictional Hitler diaries became a source of fascination to his most prized clients and were believed to be authentic works by the Fuehrer himself. It wasnt long before the mystique surrounding the diaries took on a life of their own.

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