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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Hitler diaries agent was 'communist spy'
Gerd Heidemann
Heidemann received a four year jail term for his role
The man who played a key role in the humiliating fake Hitler diaries scandal worked for the East German secret police, recently released files have revealed.

Rupert Murdoch
Murdoch and the Western press lapped up the story
Gerd Heidemann, who served a jail term for his go-between role in the sale of the fraudulent diaries, was recruited by the Stasi in 1953, a spokesman from Germany's centre for Stasi documents confirmed.

While he distanced himself from the Stasi just two years later, the file - extracts of which were published in this week's Der Spiegel - indicates that he was still active in the service between 1981 and 1986.

The diary scandal occurred in 1983.

It disgraced the German magazine Stern, which bought them, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose reputable Sunday Times also fell for them, and a top Hitler historian who vouched for their authenticity.

Tickets for Eva

The 62 volume epic, which covered the crucial years of 1932 to 1945, were sold to Stern for nearly nine million marks ($5m).

It was their star reporter Heidemann who acted as the intermediary between his employer and the man who had allegedly found the diaries, Konrad Kujau - later revealed to be the author of the works.

Kujau had mainly plagiarised a book called Hitler's Speeches and Proclamations compiled by a Nazi federal archivist, and had littered the text with banal comments such as "Must get tickets for the Olympic Games for Eva" to give the work a personal touch.

Despite the fact that the diaries were made of paper, ink and glue of post-war origin, and that the writing itself contained historical inaccuracies and anachronisms, Heidemann clinched the sale.

He came away from the deal with 1.7 million of the marks which were paid to Kujau.

In the 1985 trial, Heidemann said he had been duped by Kujau. But the author insisted that Heidemann knew they were fakes.

'Double agent'

According to Der Spiegel, Heidemann - whose codename was Gerhard - was initially engaged to watch the arrival of American nuclear weapons in West Germany.

But he said that the money he received - a substantial amount - was handed over to the West German authorities.

He said he was a double agent.

His file was archived by the Stasi in 1986, indicating that he was no longer deemed useful by the agency.

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16 Sep 00 | UK
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