There have been many stories that have surfaced over the years that we have all wanted to believe but more often than not they turn out to be nothing more than elaborate hoax’s designed to gain media attention and, in many cases, money.
Here we a take a look at 5 of the biggest hoax’s that you wish were true and genuine.
The Hitler Diaries.
Back in April of 1983 the West German magazine, Stern, announced the discovery of and published exerts from the diaries of Adolf Hitler. According to a journalist, Gerd Heidemann, the diaries had been smuggled out from East Germany by a man named, Dr Fischer. He claimed that the diaries were part of a consignment of several documents that were recovered from plane crash sometime during 1945 in Börnersdorf which is near Dresden.
Having paid 9 million German marks for the Hitler diaries (sixty small books plus a special volume) Stern magazine had a huge and obvious interest in proving that the diaries were genuine. Over a period of 18 months the sixty books underwent detailed investigation and analyses. Although hand writing analysis were arranged on the diaries both in Europe and the USA Stern magazine’s parent company, Gruner and Jahr, made every effort to delay forensic analysis claiming that they were fearful of leaks to other publications. This meant that no experts in World War II history were allowed proper access to the diaries prior to their publication. Various publications, one of which was The Times newspaper, claimed that they had authenticated the diaries prior to bidding for the serialisation rights. The idea that the diaries of Adolf Hitler had been discovered obviously generated a huge amount of interest from around the world as such books were likely to give an insight to World War II from an unknown point of view.
Although the Hitler Diaries had supposedly been authenticated there were still many people who doubted that the books were genuine. While many of the doubters did not believe the diaries to be genuine they also could not believe that one single person could have forged 60 volumes. Many people actually believed that East Germany and the Soviet Union governments may have forged the diaries to divide West Germany from its allies or to earn Western currency.
By the end of April doubts about the authenticity of the Hitler diaries had intensified and photocopies of a fake Hitler diary turned up and was said to be of the same source as the supposed genuine diaries. Further investigation proved that the diaries were indeed fake, printed on modern day paper using modern day ink. To make matters even worse the diaries were full of historical inaccuracies and much of the content had been copied from a book of Hitler’s speeches. The sections of the diaries that were authenticated by various people were also discovered to be forged.
The final nail in the coffin for the Hitler Diaries was wen Dr Julius Grant confirmed that forensic analysis proved that the diaries were 100% fake and not particular good fakes at that. He said “the diaries are bad forgeries but a great hoax.”
The publication of the Hitler diaries and the subsequent discovery that they were fake cost several high profile newspaper editors their jobs not to mention the damaged reputation of any publication which touched the diaries.
It later transpired that the diaries had been written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. He was sent to trial in 1984 for the forgeries and sentenced to 42 months in jail. What happened to the money that was paid for the diaries was never properly discovered.
Surgeon’s Photograph of the Loch Ness Monster.
The “Surgeon’s photo” is arguably the best know and probably the very first photograph of the Loch Ness monster. The photo was taken back in 1934 by Dr. Wilson who claimed that he was looking at the loch when he saw the monster and grabbed his camera to snap the now famous picture. Dr Wilson took several photos of the monster, which showed its head and neck, but once the film was developed only two exposures were clear. One photo was slightly blurred and the second photo went on to become one of the most famous Nessie pictures after it was published in the Daily Mail.
It was not until many years later in 1975 that The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the photo was actually a fake taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson who was a gynaecologist. It was revealed that the object in the photo was not the Loch Ness monster but essentially a toy submarine which was bought from Woolworths with a head and neck attached to it. The model was reportedly built by Christian Spurling, the son-in-law of Marmaduke Wetherell, a big game hunter who had been publicly ridiculed in the Daily Mail, the newspaper that employed him. The photograph was hoaxed so that Wetherell could take revenge on the Daily Mail.
Although the photograph of Nessie has been proven as a fake there is still a group of people who believe that the photo is actually genuine and the story of revenge is actually the hoax.
The Cottingley Fairies.
The Cottingley Fairies are a series of five photos that were taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths who were two cousins living in Cottingley, near Bradford, England, showing the two in various activities with supposed fairies.
Elsie Wright was the daughter of one of the earliest qualified electrical engineers, Arthur Wright. She borrowed her father’s quarter plate camera and went about taking the photographs behind the family house. Upon developing the plates, Arthur Wright noticed the fairies in the photos but considered that they were fake. Elsie’s mother, Polly, however genuinely believed that the photos were genuine. The believe that the photos were authentic was further fuelled when in the summer of 1919 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (he wrote Sherlock Holmes) published an article for a popular magazine claiming that the photos were real.
Of course not everyone was sucked in to believing the photos were authentic but the young girls avoided publicity for the next 50 years and the hoax gathered traction with more and more people believing that the photos were genuine and showed something supernatural.
It was not until late 1981 and mid 1982 that Frances Way (née Griffiths) and Elsie Hill (née Wright), the girls who took the photos came forward and admitted that the four pictures were indeed faked. Speaking of the first photograph in particular, Frances has said: “I don’t see how people could believe they’re real fairies. I could see the backs of them and the hatpins when the photo was being taken.” Both of the girls claimed, right up to their deaths, that the fifth photo was, in fact, authentic.
Back in 1995, Ray Santilli started off a very wide reaching “alien autopsy” controversy by claiming to own footage taken in a U.S. military tend shortly after the famous 1947 Roswell UFO incident.
The video footage was first presented to a specially selected and invited audience of media representatives, UFOlogists and various other dignitaries at the Museum of London but the footage that was shown did not actually show any of the alien autopsy. It was said that there was also unedited footage which showed the autopsy itself along with extensive footage of the alien’s spaceship and the wreckage of the craft in Roswell. The video footage also featured various interviews with experts who were verified the authenticity of the film.
The existence of such video footage obviously captured the attention of the world media as potentially one of the biggest discoveries that mankind had ever seen but on April 4th of 2006 Ray Santilli made the announcement that only part of the film was actually real. In fact he claimed that only a few frames of the footage were real and the rest was all a reconstruction.
It turned out that the alien body in the film footage was cleverly constructed by an artists and sculptor using various techniques.
Since the release of the completely unedited footage there have been various inconsistencies with the film that have also proven that it is fake. One of which is a shot which clearly shows a touch pad telephone in the background. Of course such telephones did not exist in 1947.
The Catholic Pope That Turned Out to be a Woman.
John Anglicus, a ninth century Englishman, travelled to Rome, became a Cardinal, and when Pope Leo IV died in 853 A.D., he was unanimously elected to be pope. He went by the name, Pope John VIII, and ruled for two entire years until 855 A.D. While there may seem nothing strange or wrong with this you can imagine the shock and astonishment of everyone when one day while riding from St. Peter’s to the Lateran, he stopped at the side of the road and actually gave birth to a baby. It transpired that Pope John VIII was not a man but a woman.
According to the legend of this tale once the Pope’s real gender was discovered the people of Rome tied her feet together and had her dragged behind a horse while throwing stones at her until she died.
The State with a Made Up Name.
You are probably not aware but the state of Idaho is probably the only state to be given its name because of a hoax. The eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name Idaho as he claimed that it was a Native American term meaning “gem of the mountains”.
Many years after the state was named Idaho, it was discovered that Willing had made up the name himself and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado as a result. Over time the controversy was forgotten and the modern day state of Idaho was officially named this back in 1863.