18th February
It was on this day...
1981 Hitler Diaries Hoax Revealed

Writer Gerd Heidemann tells German publishing conglomerate Gruner + Jahr that he has discovered Adolph Hitler's diaries. The price was a mere $2mn.

Gruner + Jahr hired handwriting experts who declared that the diaries were genuine, however these experts used a sample of forged handwriting as a reference for the writing in the diaries.

Rupert Murdoch's company bought the rights for $3.75mn in April 1983. Murdoch hired Hugh Trevor-Roper, the world's foremost Hitler historian, to examine the diaries.

West German police were also investigating and their analysis of the paper and ink rather than the handwriting revealed the hoax.

It was discovered that the diaries were obvious forgeries. The diary contained paper made which included a whitening agent (blankophor) that was not available until after WW2. Threads attached to the fake seals were made out of polyester, a substance not used before Hitler's death and ink tests confirmed the ink was only a few years old.

Heidemann identified the forger as Konrad Kujau. In 1985 Heidemann and Kujau received a 4 year prison sentence.

It was on this day...
1856 The 'Know-Nothing' Party Nominates It's First Presidential Candidate

Philadelphia, USA: The Know-Nothing Party was named by the press because when asked about their political platform they said they knew nothing.

The party was made up of a number of secret 'nativist' groups such as "Order of the Star-Spangled Banner" and the "Order of United Americans" who attempted to prevent immigrants from holding public office.

By 1855 support for the Know-Nothings was rising and they became The American Party. The party split over slavery, with southern members seeking protection for the practice. Many left the party to join the newly formed Republican Party.

The American Party chose former president Millard Fillmore of New York as its presidential candidate, Andrew Donelson of Tennessee was his running mate.

After the party failed to make significant gains, the Know-Nothing party effectively disbanded.

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Birthdays
1968
Molly Ringwald
1965
Dr Dre
1964
Matt Dillon
1954
John Travolta
1950
Cybill Shepherd
1950
John Hughes
1933
Yoko Ono
1920
Jack Palance
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1885 Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

1929 The first Academy Awards are announced

1930 Pluto, 'the ninth planet', is discovered by astronomer Clyde W Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona

1967 J. Robert Oppenheimer "father of the atomic bomb," dies in Princeton, New Jersey, age 62

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