Hoaxes Throughout History
Middle AgesEarly Modern1700s1800-1840s1850-1890s
1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s21st Century

Diary Hoaxes

In 1957, Rosa Panvini and her daughter Amalia offered to sell the diaries of dictator Benito Mussolini to Life magazine and the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. The two women claimed the diaries had been given to their late father after the war for safekeeping, by a friend of a friend of Mussolini. Before the sale could be completed, Italian police arrested the Panvinis and charged them with forgery and fraud. In 1968, more of the same forged volumes resurfaced, at which time the London Sunday Times paid close to $300,000 for them, before realizing they were fake. [Life - May 3, 1968]
The announcement by the German news magazine Stern that it had discovered the personal diaries of Adolf Hitler generated a media frenzy. Magazines bid for the right to serialize them. Historians anticipated what revelations they would contain. Skeptics, however, insisted they had to be a fake, since Hitler had never been known to keep a diary. The skeptics turned out to be right. Less than two weeks after the initial announcement, forensics experts denounced the diaries as a "crude forgery." When all the dust settled, the diaries turned out to be one of the most expensive fakes in history. By some accounts, the debacle cost Stern as much as 19 million marks. More…