Born in Lobau, Saxony in 1938, Konrad Kujau went on to gain infamy as the forger behind the ‘Hitler Diaries’.
Kujau’s early life was blighted by poverty following the death of his father when he was just 6 years old.
With five children, his mother was often placed in the position of having to send them to orphanages for lengthy periods of time in order to guarantee their survival.
Despite this, Konrad Kujau excelled at school, though finances forced him to leave and find employment at the age of 16.
He began work as a locksmith but soon left and drifted from one job to another for a few years.
After a warrant was issued for his arrest in 1957, for stealing a microphone from a youth club where he was working, he fled from East Germany and settled with his uncle in West Berlin.
After a few more years of drifting, and a couple of short prison terms for theft, Kujau settled down with Edith Lieblang and they opened a bar together.
The very next year though, he was arrested for forging luncheon vouchers in the name of ‘Peter Fisher’, a name that would surface again later as the source of the ‘Hitler Diaries’.
In the 1970s Kujau moved into the importation business, sourcing Nazi militaria from East Germany to sell on with a good profit in the West.
To add to the value of the items he bought he faked documents which would attest to their authenticity.
As his greed and ambition grew so did his forgeries.
He sold paintings that were allegedly signed by Adolf Hitler, even the gun that he said Hitler had committed suicide with and also a copy of Mein Kampf that he re-wrote himself and passed off as the original manuscript.
With possession of anything related to the Nazi regime being illegal, Kujau benefited from total secrecy.
In 1978 he managed to forge the first ‘Hitler Diary’ and sold it to an eager collector.
A couple of years later Gerd Heidemann, from the magazine Stern, heard of the diary and contacted Kujau who then made a deal for the remaining volumes.
In all, Kujau faked a further 61 volumes which he sold to Heidemann for 2,500,000 Deutschmarks. Heidemann then sold these onto Stern for 9,000,000 Deutschmarks.
Soon after the diaries were published however, they were discovered to be forgeries.
Kujau and Heidemann were arrested and sentenced to four and a half years for forgery and four years, eight months for fraud respectively.
Edith Lieblang received a sentence of one year in prison as an accomplice.
After serving three years of his sentence Kujau was released and went on to appear on television as a ‘forgery expert’ as well as becoming a business man, selling ‘Kujau fakes’ of famous paintings.
Konrad Kujau died of cancer in Stuttgart in 2000.