The book in contention is Victor von Koerber's "Adolf Hitler: His Life and his Speeches." Photograph: (Getty)
Historian Thomas Weber says he has unearthed documents in a South African archive which indicate the book was written by Hitler himself
A Scottish historian claims that he has found documents which prove that Adolf Hitler's first biography was written by the dictator himself as a "shameless but clever act of self-promotion."
Authored by Victor von Koerber, "Adolf Hitler: Sein Leben und seine Reden (Adolf Hitler: His Life and his Speeches)," was the first major biography of Hitler and appeared in 1923. It presented him as "Germany's saviour" and compared him to Jesus.
Historian Thomas Weber, a professor of history and international affairs at the Aberdeen University, says he has unearthed documents in a South African archive which indicate the book was "almost certainly" written by Hitler himself, international news agency, the AFP reported.
Weber says that while reviewing von Koerber's papers at the Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand, he found a signed testimony by the wife of the book's publisher stating that Koerber had not written the book and that Hitler had asked an ally to find a conservative writer to "put his name" to it. The historian, also a visiting professor at the University of Harvard, was researching for his new book about how Hitler became a Nazi.
"I found a signed testimony given under oath by the wife of the book's publisher stating that Victor von Koerber had not written the book and that Hitler had asked General Ludendorff (an ally in the failed putsch of 1923) if he could find a conservative writer without any connection to the Nazi party to put his name to it," he said.
"I also found a statement by Koerber as well as a letter he wrote to a man with whom he had been incarcerated in a concentration camp that gave details about Hitler's authorship of the book.
Subsequently, in Germany, I found a document from 1938 in which von Koerber alludes to Hitler writing the book, stating that it was written 'on the initiative of and with the active participation of Adolf Hitler'," he added.
As per Weber, the book, which also includes a collection of Hitler’s speeches, compares Hitler to Jesus, "likening his moment of politicalisation to Jesus' resurrection," asking for it to be 'the new bible of today' and using terms like 'holy' and 'deliverance'.
"To find it was actually written by Hitler himself...demonstrates that he was a conniving political operator with a masterful understanding of political processes and narratives long before he drafted what is regarded as his first autobiography, 'Mein Kampf'," AFP quotes Weber as having said.
The book also contains the first reference to Hitler's "political awakening" in a military hospital which "would later be repeated in almost identical language in Mein Kampf".
Weber says that the evidence points to the fact that the book was an autobiography written to "boost Hitler's profile as the German saviour."
"Taken together, the pieces of evidence now available to us build a compelling picture that this was indeed an autobiography written to boost Hitler's profile as the 'German saviour' and that even at this early stage of his career he was an astute and manipulative political operator," Weber said.
The historian believes von Koerber was selected to front the biography due to his aristocratic lineage and reputation as a war hero.
(WION with inputs from AFP)