Lying is part of human nature, as it has been imprinted in our subconscious minds (or maybe I should say superconscious minds.) One proof of it was the long practice of forgery in human history. If we are going to look back, the tales of the past are full of literary forgery, literary hoaxes, fake documents, and historical claims that were later on proved to be far from true.
It’s amusing how literal pieces of paper could possibly change the course of where the world is heading, be it in the government, literature, or maybe law and order, and how they could affect the perceptions and decisions of human beings. Here are stories about forgeries that almost changed the course of history had they not been exposed.
Fake WWII Documents
Martin Allen was a British researcher and author who specialized in World War II. He published three books containing the histories of the Second World War that had revelations about the conduct of the British government. There, he claimed that both the British government and the royal family had their own covert agenda. For instance, in his book Hidden Agenda, he claimed that Edward VIII, who was the Duke of Windsor and known to be a Nazi sympathizer, handed out information to the officials of Nazi Germany that played a great role in the capture of France. His other book, titled Himmler’s Secret War, published in 2002, claimed that the head of SS Heinrich Himmler’s death was not through suicide but an assassination. The person behind it was Winston Churchill’s government.
According to Allen, all his claims were based on 29 documents he supposedly uncovered in Britain’s National Archives. In 2005, however, journalist Ben Fenton took a close look at the documents and ruled they were fake. This prompted a Scotland Yard investigation that resulted in the discovery that Allen himself created the documents. For instance, one of the documents was printed through a laser printer. Allen was not prosecuted due to his deteriorating health, but if his lies were not exposed, his works could have forever changed how history would be seen not only by the people of the past but also by those in the future.
Most of the time, forgery happens because somebody else tries to change or completely make up valuable documents from other people.
Italian fascist and dictator Benito Mussolini’s case was different, as the document he forged was his own, his diary to be exact. Before 1962, multiple fake “Mussolini diaries” had already been exposed. However, in 1962, there was one compilation that multiple scholars agreed to be written by Mussolini himself, or at least someone close to him. These diaries were found among the personal items of one of the partisan fighters from the troops who executed him.
There, the insomniac dictator shared his view on the factors that led to World War II. Multiple times, he claimed that he was forced to side with Germany without his will. These entries were dated from 1935 up to 1939, but as it turned out, it appeared that he wrote them anytime between 1943 and 1945, after he was kicked from his position and placed under house arrest. What Mussolini was attempting to do was to try to create a paper trail that would prove his innocence, knowing that he would soon be prosecuted for his war crimes.
We, humans, have a thing for personal items that were once owned by famous people that we are willing to shell out huge sums of money just to display in our libraries or maybe bedrooms. That was the case in 1983. The German magazine Stern paid 5 million dollars to a reporter named Gerd Heidemann for a collection of 60 small black notebooks that were said to be the personal diaries of the one and only Adolf Hitler. The original diaries were believed to have been lost in a plane crash in 1945. According to Heidemann, he found the diaries and got them from a Stuttgart art dealer named Konrad Kujau.
The documents were thoroughly inspected, and Hugh Trevor-Roper, a prominent British historian, said the diaries were legit. That same year, Stern began publishing excerpts of the diaries. Some of the entries included a wide variety of topics, from flatulence and halitosis, “Eva says I have bad breath,” to more serious claims like how Hitler was not really aware of the atrocities happening to the Jews.
However, through later inspections just two weeks later, it was found that they were forged as the materials used were made after 1950, plus modern words were used in the entries. After finding out the fakery that was going on, Heidemann claimed that Kujau tricked him. Both of them were convicted due to fraud. Imagine what could have happened if people actually bought the claims that Hitler was unaware of the sufferings of the Jews.
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