Hitler Diaries : Fakes that fooled the world Hardcover – 1 Aug 1998
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"One of the postwar period's most flamboyant historical scandals was the forgery of the so-called "Hitler Diaries." The acceptance of these fakes as genuine by prominent journalists and historians, the publicity surrounding their publication in news magazines in West Germany and the United States, and the unraveling of the fraud perpetrated by their author, a sleazy dealer in pseudo-Nazi relics, rocked West Germany in the mid-1980s and resounded in journalistic and historical establishments elsewhere." -- "Library Journal"
"A lively chronicle of the 1983 sensation in which historians and the media, and their credulous public, were tricked by a petty German thief into temporarily rewriting the history of the Third Reich. Handwriting expert Hamilton details his role in exposing the hoax, and recounts the circus-like trial." -- "Book News" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Now for the first time, the complete expose of the most daring and successful forgery of all time. For seven days in April 1983, the sensational discovery of Hitler's sixty-two volumes of secret diaries dominated the news headlines of the world. Scholars hailed the diaries as the greatest find of the century, a historical bonanza that would entirely alter our views of Hitler and the Third Reich. Shocked readers followed daily installments showing that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust. Then, in an abrupt reversal, the diaries were proved to be bogus! --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Hilton's account of the backstabbing world of fakes and fakers cannot be improved. Kujau flimlammed Heidemann out of greed; Heidemann, desiring to become world-famous, lied to "Stern" about the origin of the diaries; "Stern", in turn, lied to Trevor-Roper and other experts it consulted in order to make sure they get a "genuine" verdict, and dishonestly tried to force Murdoch to raise the price he previously agreed to pay for publication rights; Murdoch, for his part, lied to everybody by claiming--after the diaries were exposed as fakes--that the reason he didn't buy the rights was that he suspected forgery. Hilton notes, for example, that Heidemann and Kujau once made a swap: one of Goering's greatcoats for a rare Hitler watercolor... both fake. (One wonders: when a cheater cheats a cheater as the other cheater cheats him back, is there a crime committed?)
This account is worth the price of the book all by itself, but, in addition, Hilton presents us with a crash course on evaluating the authenticity of historical documents in general, and Nazi memorabilia in particular, as well as an amusing account of historical fakers who preceded Kujau. He notes the gullbility of "experts" and proves his case with amusing anecdotes, such as the history professor who bought from Vrain Lucas (a 19th-century forger whose career mirrored that of Kujau in many ways) documents allegedly by Plato and Cleopatra signed "Platon" and "Cleopatra"--that is, the way their name is written in modern French.
If you have any interest in the Hitler diaries at all, this is the book to get.
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