Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Konrad Kujau's Hitler Diaries

The Big "Discovery"

In April 1983, the popular West German magazine Stern made a shocking announcement that sparked passionate debates throughout the world and temporarily challenged historical views concerning Germanys most notorious ex-chancellor. The periodical claimed that 62 handwritten volumes of secret diaries allegedly written by the founder of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, had been discovered in East Germany. According to Charles Hamiltons book, The Hitler Diaries, the volumes were reported to be one of the most-significant, historical discoveries in recent history. However, time proved the manuscripts instead were one of the biggest hoaxes of the century.

Stern's Hitler Diaries
Stern's Hitler Diaries
 

The priceless diaries were allegedly discovered several years earlier by an East German who had learned that the artifacts were in the possession of farmers living in the village of Boernersdorf. Apparently, they were rescued from a downed Nazi plane that had crashed and burned in April 1945. The documents were reported to have survived the inferno because they were supposedly protected in a metal-lined container. Following their discovery, it was alleged that the documents were kept in a secret location, then eventually smuggled out of the country and kept secured until they were publicly revealed to the world years later.

Historical accounts further supported the sensational story, which were based on the memoirs of Hitlers chief SS pilot, Lt. General Hans Baur. Baur purportedly claimed that the plane, piloted by Major Friedrich A. Gundlfinger was carrying Hitlers private archives when it was shot down en route from Berlin in April 1945. The evidence was enough for some to believe that the diaries were indeed genuine artifacts. However, Stern realized that they would need to provide more proof that the diaries were authentic. Especially if they were going to sell the story to other publishers, which they had planned to do.

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