• Short Summary


    The Sunday Times in London has published the first extracts of what it called the secret diaries of Adolf Hitler -- and sparked off an international furore over the authenticity of the documents.

  • Description

    1. MUTE: LONDON, UK, APRIL 24, 1983: GVs & CUs Sunday times articles on Hitler Diaries. (6 SHOTS) 0.17
    2. SOUND: HAMBURG, WEST GERMANY: GVs & CUs Record edition of Stern going to press; worker reads copy. CU Copies of Stern. (4 SHOTS) 0.46
    3. SV One of Stern's editors speaks. (SOT) 1.04
    4. MONO: PART SOUND: FILE: CU Hess shouting "Hell Hitler", Hess and Hitler together; wreckage of aircraft in which Hess flew to Scotland in 1941. (7 SHOTS) 1.25
    5. MUNICH; 1938: GVs & SVs Hitler signs Munich Agreement, Chamberlain signs followed by Dalardier and Mussolini. GV Chamberlain gets off plane and is greeted by crowd at Heston airport, he stands at podium and waves agreement in his hand. (7 SHOTS) 1.54
    6. FILE: 1940: GVs & SVs Smoke rising from Dunkirk beaches; British troops are evacuated in boats; troops packed on deck of ships. (10 SHOTS) 2.25
    7. BBC: PART SOUND; COLOUR; APRIL 25, 1983: GV & SV Lord Dacre speaks at news conference. (SOT) (2 SHOTS) 3.10
    8. MUTE: SVs Hitler diaries are held up at news conference by Stern editor. (2 SHOTS) 3.17
    9. SOUND: SCU British historian/author, David Irving, talks to reporters. (SOT) 3.25
    10. SV Scuffle between cameramen is broken up. 3.33
    11. VISLIB; MUTE: MONO: BERLIN; FILE 1939: SVs & SCU Nazi troops march in front of Hitler who salutes them. (4 SHOTS) 3.45
    12. SVs Mass rally in Berlin stadium; Hitler gives Nazi salute. (4 SHOTS) 3.55
    STERN EDITOR: (SEQ 3) "We don't have any doubt that it's genuine. We showed it to many experts in hand-writing and historical experts and they all were convinced ... they were totally convinced, that it's genuine. There were no doubts at all."
    LORD DACRE: (SEQ 7) "I think a final judgement cannot be given until the whole text of the document has been examined. In this respect, I must say that I, as a historian, I regret that the normal method of historical verification has perhaps, necessarily, been to some extent sacrificed to the requirements of a journalistic scoop."
    IRVING: (SEQ 9) "There is still an enormous gap between the diaries on that table and the plane crash which quite definitely happened on April 21, 1945."

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved


    The Sunday Times in London has published the first extracts of what it called the secret diaries of Adolf Hitler -- and sparked off an international furore over the authenticity of the documents. In feature articles on April 24, the newspaper said the previously-unknown private diaries in 60 hand-written volumes spanned the years 1932 to 1945 and made sensational disclosures about Hitler's rise to power, his close associates and the fall of the Third Reich. The discovery of the diaries was announced some days earlier by the influential West German magazine, Stern. It was the culmination of a long search by Hamburg journalist, Gerd Heidemann, involving secret journeys into East Germany and trips to South America to see former Nazis including the notorious "Butcher of Lyons" Klaus Barbie. Historians and commentators are sharply divided between those ready to hail the diaries as the greatest literary discovery since the Dead Sea Scrolls, and those who consider the collection to be a massive forgery. Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, now Lord Dacre, authenticated the documents after a brief visit to the Swiss bank vault where they were kept. A United States graphologists, Ordway Hilton, authenticated a portion of the diaries last year. Other experts remain skeptical, and one eminent British scholar, Lord Bullock, has warned that the diaries and their revelations could have an unsettling effect in Europe, and especially in West Germany. He has urged that scholars from Britain, France, West Germany and Jewish experts should be allowed to study the diaries in some detail, to prove -- or disprove their authenticity.

    SYNOPSIS: The Sunday Times bought the UK and Commonwealth publishing rights from Stern; estimates of the price paid range from GBP500,000 to GBP2-million. Lord Dacre's endorsement of the diaries was hastily published in the Times on April 23 after Stern brought forward its own publication date from May 10, originally to coincide with the anniversary of Rudolf Hess' ill-fated flight to Scotland in 1941.

    Stern has printed a record edition of more than two million copies of the issue -- the most controversial in its 30 years of publishing. Stern says its reporter, Gerd Heidemann, retrieved the diaries from an unnamed East German who had hidden them in a hayloft for 38 years, following the crash of one of Hitler's personal aircraft which had been carrying them.

    On two major historical points the diaries may prove a disappointment -- the case of Rudolph Hess and the Final Solution. Lord Dacre, who has seen a summary of the special volume on Hess, said ti seems Hitler took responsibility for Hess' 1941 trip to Scotland, in a futile attempt to present a peace plan to Britain. Hess' proposals were ignored and he was imprisoned there. There is no special file in the Hitler diaries about the Final Solution and Lord Dacre noted no mention of it in his brief inspection of the diaries. It is not surprising, since Hitler was determined that his name and authority should not be associated with the brutality of the Final Solution.

    The Munich Agreement in September, 1938, was signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany in an attempt to stave off the threat of war. It was not to be. After Munich, Hitler apparently wrote in the diaries, of the then British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain; "He nearly outsmarted me. This smoothy Englishman...I would have made quite different conditions for Mussolini or Dalardier but I couldn't do so with this cunning fox Chamberlain".

    From the beginning of World War Two in 1939, the daily notes in the diaries become more copious, concentrating on the military situation. Apparently, on May 20, 1940, Hitler was still interested in setting up peace negotiations with Britain. The entry refers to the British forces trapped at Dunkirk and says in part "The English are worrying me. Shall I let them go or not? How will Churchill react?"
    Lord Dacre attended a news conference in Hamburg on April 25 and here he said there was a possibility that the diaries may not be genuine:
    The black-bound diaries were on show at the news conference. One of the experts to question the authenticity of the diaries was British author/historian, David Irving:
    The experts were not the only ones to oppose each other. A scuffle broke out among camera crews at the news conference...

    The last entry in the Hitler diaries is undated but was apparently written in Hitler's bunker as the Allies encircled Berlin. Hitler wrote: "The long-awaited offensive has begun. May the Lord God stand by us". Ten days later, Hitler was dead. As the diary controversy rages and further doubts are raised, publishers can reflect on similar "scoops" of the past. In 1967 the Sunday Times made a down-payment of GBP30,000 on a GBP250,000 deal to buy Mussolini's diaries. This publishing coup was eventually uncovered as a forgery, the work of two women, despite the document being authenticated by several experts.


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