In this age of the internet and PhotoShop the world is a wash with fakes, with a few clicks of a mouse you put yourself on the moon, at the bottom of the sea, remove and repair anything you like, and we had train our brains to question everything we see.
So we all think that we can spot a fake or when someone is putting one over on us, but yet even the best of people don’t always see until its to late
In the next two blog post I am going talk about two of worlds biggest con and fakes which were carried out without the aid of a computer and how a very simple lie can change the whole world.
We shall start The Hitler Diary’s
On 22 April 1983, the German news magazine clamed to have discovered the diaries have the diary of Adolf Hitler was going to publish them if true, the diaries would give the whole world a huge inside the mind of Nazi Leader.
Journalist Gerd Heidemann claimed to have received a diary from East Germany, smuggled out by a “Dr. Fischer”. The diaries were supposed to be part of a consignment of documents recovered from an aircraft crash in Börnersdorf near Dresden in April 1945, and were put on the aircraft just Hitler was about leave Germany at the end of the war.
Stern’s parent company, Gruner + Jahr worked with Gerd Heidemann for over two years on behalf Dr Fischer collected and paid a further 61 volumes.
Dr Fischer sold them to Heidemann for DM 2.5 million. Heidemann in turn received DM 9 million from his employers at Stern
In great secrecy over the course of three separate handwriting analyses were arranged, in Europe and the USA, of one page from one of the diaries; all the tests identified the writing as Hitler’s.
But, Gruner + Jahr delayed forensic analysis and with fear of leaks meant that no experts in World War II history were allowed more than cursory access to the diaries before publication.
Yet the two historians who did briefly see them, Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Baron Dacre of Glanton) and Gerhard Weinberg, were ask too look at the diary and authenticate the diaries for by Times Newspapers and Newsweek before bidding for the serialisation rights.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, flew to Switzerland to see the diaries. Stern showed him not only the diary volumes, but a large archive of additional Hitler material, said to have been salvaged from the Börnersdorf crash along with the diaries.
Yet doubts quickly emerged, and a press conference held to launch publication of the diaries on 25 April 1983 was a fiasco for Stern,
Within two weeks, the West German Bundesarchiv revealed that the Hitler Diaries were “grotesquely superficial fakes” made on modern paper using modern ink and full of historical inaccuracies. The content had been largely copied from a book of Hitler’s speeches, Max Domarus’ Hitler: Speeches and Proclamations, with additional “personal” comments
the fallout saw Stern editors Peter Koch and Felix Schmidt resigned from the magazine, while Frank Giles stood down as editor of The Sunday Times, William Broyles resigned from Newsweek, and the episode was much ridiculed in the worlds media.
The diaries were actually written by Konrad Kujau possessing as Dr. Fischer who had just started out forging luncheon vouchers under the name “Peter Fischer”
Kujau began to illegally import Nazi militaria from East Germany. In order to increase their value, he began to forge documents to give them false provenance. He also began to forge paintings—something that had been a mere hobby until then—signing them “Adolf Hitler” and finding the people would not question his started on the diaries
In August 1984 Kujau was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for forgery, Heidemann was convicted of fraud and also received a four-and-half year prison sentence the following year
On his release from prison after three years he became something of a minor celebrity appearing on TV as a “forgery expert”, and set up a business selling “genuine Kujau fakes” in the style of various major artists and died of cancer in 2000.