Posted Sunday, August 4, 2002

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The Guardian

London, Monday July 29, 2002

'Hitler diaries' man was a spy

John Hooper
in Berlin

THE journalist jailed for his part in one of the 20th century's great hoaxes - the publication of the 'Hitler diaries' - was an agent of East Germany's intelligence service, the Stasi, according to new evidence published yesterday.

Gerd Heidemann, who acted as the intermediary between the forger of the diaries and his employers at Stern magazine, was quoted as saying he had, in fact, been a double agent.

The news weekly Der Spiegel, which published an extract from Mr Heidemann's Stasi file, said he claimed to have handed over his payments from the East Germans to West Germany's counter-intelligence service.

The revelation of his links to the Stasi will breathe new life into the theory that the 1983 Hitler diaries affair was not just a vintage bungle but a communist plot.

Its unmasking did lasting damage not only to Stern but also to Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the reputation of a leading conservative historian.

The Sunday Times was about to begin serialising the diaries and the Times had already carried an article by Lord Dacre (formerly Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper) endorsing their authenticity.

Supposedly covering the entire history of the Third Reich, from 1933 to 1945, they were in fact the invention of a Stuttgart forger, Konrad Kujau.

Heidemann claimed to have been duped by him. But the forger insisted that he had told Heidemann they were fakes.

The document says that Heidemann was recruited by the East German intelligence service in 1953 when he was a young photo-journalist. He was given the code-name Gerhard.

His mission was to provide information mainly on "military targets and secret service premises, in particular those of the English [sic] secret service".

Der Spiegel said other documents in his file showed that he photographed secret sites in several parts of Germany.

He was well paid but constantly demanded more. On one occasion his case officer noted dryly that "the money issue for him always plays the leading role".

Der Spiegel said Heidemann wrote to the Stasi in 1955, withdrawing his services.

But the files also revealed that in 1978, agent Gerhad was handed over by the department that had recruited him to the Stasi's foreign espionage department under Markus Wolf.

His file was archived - a sign that he was no longer considered useful - in 1986.

Related items on this website:

David Irving's telephone log during the diaries scandal
How the scholar, Professor Eberhard Jäckel, tried to conceal that he had fallen for Kujau and published his Hitler poems as the real thing
David Irving: "Torpedo Running"
Trial of Konrad Kujau and Gerd Heidemann for forgery | Obituary of forger Konrad Kujau
Moderner "Till Eulenspiegel" Konrad Kujau erlag einem Magenkrebsleiden
 Death of Hitler Diaries forger Kujau. Mr Irving's role in exposing the fraud
  Wiener Kurier: Hitler-Tagebuch-Fälscher gestorben
  The Times obituary of Konrad Kujau, forger of Hitler Diaries
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