A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Hamburg Mule and the Hoax of the Century

This week back in 1983, a German magazine spent millions on what they thought were the genuine wartime diaries of Adolf Hitler. They were wrong.

The Booze

The Hamburg Mule

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Crafted by Uwe Christiansen, owner of Christiansen’s Fine Drinks and Cocktails in Hamburg, where Stern Magazine is still headquartered.


Muddle some fresh sliced ginger. Add 2 kumquats and muddle, along with two big slices of fresh lime. Add Korn. Add crushed ice to a Collins glass, fill with Thomas Henry German ginger beer, and stir.

The History Lesson

In 1983, the scoop of the century turned out to be the dupe of the century.

It all began at the German news magazine, “Stern,” when their reporter, Gerd Heidemann, announced he’d met a guy who had in his possession… the wartime diaries of Adolf Hitler. And they were for sale! For a mere several million German Marks.

Once experts authenticated the handwriting, Stern paid up. Then offered the syndication rights to news outlets like London’s “Sunday Times,” which sent its own expert, who also said the diaries were for real. How could they not be? After all, no one would fake 62 handwritten notebooks, right?

Well — as some pointed out — a couple of Italian ladies faked 80 volumes of Mussolini’s diaries, back in 1957. But despite such doubts, Stern and the Times published excerpts from the Hitler diaries anyway.

Many cried fraud. The events in the diaries didn’t jive with documented history. Hitler came off as an almost genial guy. Historians and scientists demanded a closer look at the diaries. And as a British historian later told BBC host Sue MacGregor, forensics quickly proved they were forged. Written on modern paper with modern ink.

Turns out when Stern’s experts first examined the diaries, they had checked the handwriting against what they thought were original documents. But those had also been forged — by the same guy who forged the diaries: a man named Konrad Kujau. He served two years in prison for fraud, after which he made a living making replicas of famous paintings, which he admitted up front were fakes.