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Selling Hitler
 400 Seiten

Dieses Buch habe ich direkt auf meine Wunschliste gepackt, als Florian seine Rezension veröffentlichte. Durch eine glückliche Wendung des Schicksals habe ich es dann tatsächlich zu Weihnachten bekommen, und es ist so gut.

Dass es mal gefälschte Hitler-Tagebücher im Stern gab, hatte ich natürlich durch kulturelle Osmose aufgenommen. Aber der volle Umfang, so detailliert und interessant aufbereitet wie hier, war mir bei weitem nicht klar. Die Geschichte ist spannend, haarsträubend, lustig und schockierend. Das Buch ist allerdings von 1986, darum bin ich sehr gespannt, demnächst auch noch den (deutlich aktuelleren) Podcast dazu zu hören – der mir auch bereits von Florian als „sekundäre Quelle“ empfohlen wurde.

Selling Hitler
 400 Seiten

Wow, what a story.

I was only vaguely aware of the publishing scandal surrounding the "Hitler diaries" in 1983. The Hamburg-based magazine Stern had spent millions to fetch them through one of their journalists who in turn received them from a dealer that managed to acquire them from East Germany. Except: None of this was true and honest. The Stern management had committed to the deal behind their editors' back, the journalist kept half the money for himself (and spent lavishly on Hitler memorabilia) and the dealer in fact did not acquire the "diaries", but obediently forged them one by one as more money kept pouring in.

I couldn't stop reading. This story has everything and raises some interesting questions aside from the story itself: To what lengths do we go to deceive ourselves if we desire for something to be true? How easy do we calm our inquisitory and skeptic nature if an authority we trust has provided us with enough plausible explanations, even if they themselves have been deceived due to a series of mistakes and oversights?

Robert Harris wrote this book in 1986, briefly after the whole story had collapsed. I do not know what additional information has come to light in the 30+ years since, so this book may in fact be a little out of date. Also, I would have wished for a little transparency on how Harris was able to reconstruct the series of events, down to individual conversations. If the book has shown me one thing, it is to be skeptical of someone's narration of events, as long as the source isn't validated completely. What remains is a little uncertainty as to which assumptions Harris had to make to be able to tell it in such a cohesive and compelling manner. In any case, a book well worth reading if the story interests you.