Fake ‘Hitler diaries’, one of world’s biggest hoaxes, head for German archive

BERLIN – The forged diaries of Adolf Hitler, whose publication in the 1980s was one of the world’s greatest hoaxes, are to be handed over to Germany’s national archive, the Bertelsmann media group said on Monday.

The diaries, first published by Stern magazine for 9.3 million marks, are to be handed over to the archive in 2023 following an inventory, Bertelsmann said.

Stern, whose publisher Gruner + Jahr belongs to Bertelsmann, published excerpts of the counterfeit series in 1983, even as doubts mounted over their authenticity. It sold serialisation rights to newspapers, including Britain’s Sunday Times.

The diaries were found to be fake following inspection of their content and the paper and ink used, prompting an embarrassing climb-down one week after Stern’s bombastic announcement of their discovery.

“The forged Hitler diaries are in good hands in the Federal Archives as peculiar testimonies to contemporary German history,” said Mr Michael Hollmann, president of the archives, which first revealed the diaries to be fake 40 years ago.

“They show a brazen attempt to give the brutal crimes of national socialism a human veneer,” Mr Hollmann added.

Konrad Kujau was jailed for forging the diaries. His handwriting had a strong resemblance to Hitler’s but historical inaccuracies were among the clues that gave him away.

Bertelsmann has commissioned a review into Stern magazine under founder Henri Nannen from 1948 until his departure in 1983 by the Institute of Contemporary History.

It has extended the researchers’ mandate to include the Hitler diaries fiasco in order to investigate “how and why it was possible for the fakes to be published”, the statement said. REUTERS

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