Real Fakes 'Hitler Diaries' Reporter Wants Them Back

In 1983, Stern magazine stunned the world by saying it had found Adolf Hitler's diaries. Unfortunately, they were fake. Now Gerd Heidemann, the reporter who discovered them, wants the diaries back, citing a clause in his original contract.

Gerd Heidemann presenting a volume of 'Hitler's diaries' at a news conference in Hamburg in April 1983.
AP

Gerd Heidemann presenting a volume of 'Hitler's diaries' at a news conference in Hamburg in April 1983.


It has been 30 years since Germany's Stern magazine ran what it thought was the scoop of the century, stunning the world with the claim that it had found Adolf Hitler's diaries. Lots of them, in fact. The reporter who unearthed them, Gerd Heidemann, acquired 62 volumes for 9.3 million deutsche marks ($6.1 million) from Konrad Kujau, an antiques dealer and painter.

What happened next is history. The diaries turned out to have been penned not by Hitler but by Kujau, Stern took years to recover from the embarrassment, Heidemann spent time in jail for embezzlement and Kujua was jailed for fraud.

But now Heidemann wants the diaries back, citing a clause in his original contract with Stern's publisher, Gruner & Jahr, that states that the original manuscripts would be handed back to him 10 years after they had been published.

"If I had the financial means, I would sue the publisher for their release. I can only hope that the publisher will honor the contract," Heidemann told Bild newspaper on Tuesday.

Heidemann could not be reached for comment.

An Amusing Read

Gruner & Jahr said it still has most of the volumes, and that some are on display in a history museum in Bonn and will go on show at Hamburg's police museum, Bild reported.

Heidemann said that if he got the diaries, he would make them available to Germany's national archive.

It is unclear what price the forged diaries could fetch if they were sold. Some of them make for entertaining reading. Kujau's Hitler wrote this passage about his girlfriend Eva Braun, for example:

"I've really got to have a serious talk with Eva. She thinks that a man who leads Germany can take as much time as he wants for private matters." An entry dated June 1935 reads: "Eva now has two dogs, so she won't get bored."

One entry during the 1936 Berlin Olympics reads: "Eva wants to come to the Games in Berlin, have had tickets delivered to her and her girlfriends. Hope my stomach cramps don't return during the Games."

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